Jun 20, 2009

PARENTING, Especially for Parents of Adults

What does it mean to be a parent once the kids are grown and gone? How do you do it? I heard someone say you have to woo ‘em or lose ‘em. True or False? For I've also witnessed scenes that seem to say, "Keep right on bossing. Guilt 'em, spy on 'em, keep 'em guessing."

Step-by-step accounts or actual instructions in a specific situation would be great, but general ideas might be helpful too.

In case you want to know who’s asking, and for context, let’s say my own daughter and son are in their late twenties, each with a kid or two, and we all get along. That’s close enough to the factual for me to feel comfortable presenting these issues.

1. Define “adult.” I read somewhere that professionals (I guess that means shrinks) now define adolescence as roughly the ages of 11 – 32. I hear more and more commentary, including groans from all involved, about children in their twenties still living in or returning to their parents' homes—for reasons that might be only partially financial.

2. Do you ever see grey-haired people (say, your friends or your siblings) still parenting their adult children?—that is, giving orders, or pressuring, doling out more than enough unsolicited advice and instruction? Does it work? I ask because I try hard to avoid sticking around as the boss (as if I ever was), but I’ve seen it appear to work for others with offspring in their twenties, thirties and up. I don’t trust that to be healthy; I wonder what goes on behind the scenes and within the skulls of all involved.

3. If you’re too young for this question, feel free to turn it around. How have your parents succeeded and failed in being a helpful presence, more than a meddlesome boss or an indifferent absentee? Give examples of when they sensed the right time and right ways to step in to help or back off and allow you to struggle through an important situation or life lesson on your own.


Kitty said...

Interesting questions. I often wonder about how people think, and whether they think at all about what they do.

I think in terms of parenting adults and exerting yourself on adults...it depends a great deal on who the parent is. If you're opinionated and have a strong personality, you cannot help but assert your opinions.

Some people just can't help it. Others are driven by a need to be liked or accepted, or naturally accept other points of view.

I'm the latter type, thankfully, though I sometimes wish I were the former!

Banjo52 said...

Thanks for the first full comment on Banjo52, Kitty. I hope this gets some other visitors out of their silent corners.

Maybe you're right--maybe some of my questions imply that we have more choice in such matters than we do. On the other hand, I hope we all keep trying to get it right, whatever "it" is.

Lovers' Lane