This is a re-post of one of my most popular bits of writing in recent years. As I listen to parents of adult children talk honestly about their struggles, their confusion, pain and longing, I thought it might be good for all of us (me, too!) to revisit this series of posts today.
In 2018 I taught a message at my church about navigating the sometimes choppy waters of the relationship between parents and their adult children - Friends and Family: We're All Grown Up.
It came out of my ignorance, not my knowledge.
It flowed from my failure, not my success.
It stemmed from my pain, not my progress.
And it really resonated with people.
So, for the next few weeks or so, I am going to write more about this topic.
I created a Top 10 list of suggestions for healthy ways to navigate the waters of parents and adult children.
I will start with suggestion #10 (Make the Transition) for my next post and will write about that until everything I know about it (or think I know) is tapped out. Then I'll move to #9 and so we will proceed. I don't really know where this will go, but I am anxious to see.
The one thing I want to start with is this thought, however.
Just because I taught about this topic, just because I am writing about this topic, just because I am in the middle of the reality of this topic with my own incredible adults (who are still my kids, of course) don't think that I don't struggle, and struggle alot.
I do. I struggle. A lot.
I loved this quote from Rilke, for it describes what I so often feel and can't quite find the words to say:
“Do not assume that [s]he who seeks to comfort you now, lives untroubled among the simple and quiet words that sometimes do you good. His [her] life may also have much sadness and difficulty, that remains far beyond yours. Were it otherwise, [s]he would never have been able to find these words.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke
Do you get that? Do not assume that because I seek to comfort and to encourage, I live an untroubled life.
That is what I most want you to know.
I am in it with you. I share your joys, and I know your pain.
We're all in this together …
I am so glad you are writing on this topic! I question and ponder and worry and fear over how to deal with our adult kids. I am not their bio-mom, and that often makes the relationships even more delicate. I feel like I’ve been invited to the ball but haven’t been taught the intricate steps to the dances. I long to dance with our kids without stepping on their toes or getting out of sync. I know I can’t be the only woman to face this, but it’s not anything I’ve ever talked about. Reading about what you’re learning and any comments others share will help end a bit of the isolation.
Lisa, I don't think there is any role more potentially isolating than being a parent, or step-parent, of adult kids. It is hard. Many of us don't talk to each other about our struggles, or pain, or questions ... unlike we did when we had babies or toddlers! So, I am hopeful we can create a little community here where we can pull back the curtain a bit on this difficult, but also deeply rewarding, role. Thanks for joining in!
I am finally taking time to read this. One of the hardest things I am dealing with is seeing my adult child in pain. I know he has his own pain and suffering I hurt for him so much and trying to find a way to start a discussion with him that is loving, kind and with arms wide open is challenging. One has to acknowledge there is pain and be vulnerable that is difficult for men.