There’s a parenting book I’ve been searching for lately that I can’t seem to find. When I was first pregnant, I read every book out there. I wanted to get it right. Like you could really get pregnancy wrong. Unless you did something really stupid, these babies were going to come and could care less about how many books you read. In fact, those kicks we felt laying in bed reading our books? Yeah, probably them having a good laugh or two.
Once they arrived, we found other books. Sleeping through the night, feeding schedules, temper tantrums, potty training, discipline and more. I had a lot of friends in this with me and, of course, we talked about the books.
When school started, we added new friends. We laughed and cried and shared stories of what worked. And what didn’t. School functions, sporting events, and extracurricular activities put us with people who were going through the same things. Plus there were books.
But now. After the teenage years. Why didn’t anyone tell us that parenting still happens after the teenage years? And that it looks a LOT different than the other years. No one mentioned that support systems and camaraderie were going to drop off the planet when school years end. Just like those early years, we want books. We want to know how to do this.
I would consider writing a book if I could get even one chapter figured out. When there’s a chance, I get together with the friends from those earlier years. We talk about our season of unknowing and try to see if anyone has figured anything out. It helps to know we are not alone.
One day maybe I’ll find the books. But until then, I’ll tell you what I have learned–most of it the hard way and all of it imperfectly. So imperfectly.
- Love them even more. Our job at this point isn’t to train and correct, but to model and influence. I want them to know I love them unconditionally, and learning how to do that isn’t always easy. Because mostly it means letting go. It’s about giving them freedom to be who they were created to be. And loving them even when that doesn’t look like what we maybe thought it would.
- Trust the process of life in them. From birth, we are training them for who they will be. But as they become adults, we have to trust that training. Most of us wish for more time to do it better, to get it righter, to correct all the wrongs along the way. But wherever we are at the end, we let go and trust that they’ll learn and grow and become who they were created to be.
- Find ways to get a bigger life. Our kids don’t want to think that our lives lose meaning when they move on. Our lives have meaning because we all have inherent value. Getting a bigger life doesn’t have to look big. It just needs to look like we are interested in something beyond our own small world.
Parenting adult children is about releasing, trusting, and celebrating. I want to cheer more and stress less. I want to encourage when challenges come and celebrate when they get a win, either quietly in my heart or with a big old glass of champagne.
If I’m being honest, those books didn’t really help that much. I never really had a terrible two and all five eventually got potty trained. Just never by the same method. I think keeping our hearts at peace by listening to what we know to be right will always be the best guide to doing anything.
And when we are at peace, everyone around us is influenced by that. Newborns and adult children alike.