I am working my way through the Top 10 List I created for a sermon I gave on parenting adult kids.
Last week, I spent a few days working through point #10 which was "Make The Transition," and now I am going to ponder #9 for a bit, which is "Be Honest."
By "Be honest" I mean: Parents, at a certain point in our relationship with our young adult kids we might start to share our own struggles, failures, mishaps and mistakes that we experienced when we were their age.
Of course, there are all kinds of cautions with this!
No young adult wants to hear stuff that is TOO personal from their parents, because … well, just yuk.
So, make sure you are not using your kids as therapists. Share stuff that you believe will be helpful to them. Not advice, of course … because, um, see Point #10.
Let me offer a couple examples of the kind of honesty I am talking about:
- When our kids were teenage athletes and faced the inevitable failures inherent in high school sports, they loved to hear about how their dad dropped a punt during a very famous college football game and about how I swallowed what felt like half a swimming pool's worth of water in the 3rd lap of the 100 butterfly at a district swim meet which caused me to lose all oxygen to my muscles and drop from the lead to dead last.
These stories from our past helped them process their own failures and keep them in perspective. Their dad and I survived, and so would they.
- As I mentioned in my teaching, our adult kids have relished knowing that their dad and I did not skate through our 20's easily, always knowing what path we should take, never stumbling, never doubting our choices, never feeling despair over our lives. They love the story of their dad staring up into the night sky as he pondered what the heck he was supposed to do with his life (he was 23 years old at the time). They take comfort in the fact that I did not figure out what I was good at until I was 35. These stories of our confusion help them realize they are not alone when they feel confused. They make them feel normal which, of course, they are.
Parents, don't be afraid to be honest with your adult kids about times in your life when things were less than stellar.
As my son said when he told me how important this was (and still is!) to him: "Knowing that you guys struggled makes me feel a lot less angst when I face hard times. I look at you and think, 'I can make it.'"