5-Phrases Every Parent of Adult Children Should Recite To Themselves
Becoming a parent opens up a new dimension of love. It is a capacity that many of us never knew existed. We get a hint of it upon the arrival of a baby. As our baby grew, the love in our heart expanded. Although there were days that were long and times that were tough, our heart for our children increases to the point it feels like we may burst. When they accomplish something, or they pass a milestone, we feel we may burst. That is why it isn’t always easy when our kids leave the nest and start their own families. Our role in their lives suddenly changes, and it can leave us disoriented, hurt, and lost. For the sake of our own sanity and the continued health of our adult children, we must address our feelings.
Here are a few things to remind yourself: How I feel is natural. I want my son/daughter to thrive in their newfound responsibility and relationships. Nothing will ever change the fact that I am their parent.
1. IT IS NOT MY RESPONSIBILITY. You did your job of raising them and now they are adults. It is not easy to step back when you have spent all your energy to bring them up, and get them to this point. You did a good job. Pat yourself on the back! But now it is time to focus on yourself again. You might not even remember what that is like, but it is time to shift your focus and make the adjustment.
2. IT IS NONE OF MY BUSINESS… if they aren’t asking. I know this sounds harsh, but this is an important phrase to recite. Think of it as an overstatement if that is what you need to do. Even if you don’t feel this way, you need to “get your head in the game”, and reciting this to yourself is one way to help you make the necessary shift in your thinking. Of course you care deeply, and as family, you are ready to fight for them, but they are adults now and need the independence that comes with it. Think of it as a gift you are giving them of your trust and respect.
3. I HAVE NO OPINION. You may have known your child better than anyone, and remember when your opinion was the only one that mattered to them. But at this point in their life, they no longer need to ask your opinion when making decisions. As a parent, you hope they would want to include you in the large and small issues they face. But when they don’t, the opinion you have of what they are doing needs somewhere to go. If they are not open to hearing, then you must let your opinion go, the same way you would release a helium balloon into the sky. The last thing you want to do as a parent is focus on being critical, and judge everything they do.
4. I RELEASE THEM TO LIVE THEIR LIFE. Your duty as a parent is in a new season. You nurtured, protected and taught your child everything you could, and now that they have reached maturity, it is time to cut the strings. Can you imagine a mama bird pushing her baby bird out of the nest to fly but only giving them false freedom by having strings attached to them? They would only get so far and then they would fail. Let your son or daughter go, it’s what they need. They have to experience things on their own. Instead of holding their hand to keep them safe, you are being the parent they need by holding them in your heart, releasing them to God, and watching them soar.
5. IF THEY NEED MY HELP THEY WILL ASK FOR IT. Letting go does not mean you won’t be there for them. It just means you acknowledge the change of season in their life, and want to show them you respect them as an adult. Continued concern for their health and welfare is normal, but use wisdom to know when to help. Helping when it is unwanted is not received well, no matter how innocent your intention is. A good rule to help you determine if you’re trying to help too often is the 80-20 rule. If you are initiating more than 20% of the help you offer, you need to step back, get a life, and wait for them to ask for your help. If they never ask for your help? Try to keep around 80% of the help you give, come from them asking for your assistance. Otherwise, determine to only act on 10-20% of the ideas you have to help them, and then be sure to ask if they would like help. Release the rest.
God has grace and peace available for you in this season, and is able to heal your heart.
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