Thursday, March 15, 2012

When Your Child Asks for Help

When you adult child asks for your advice, what should you do? When they specifically ask for your help, they really want it. Letting them know that you understand is key. Common sense, listening, and avoiding hysterical outbursts are essential. Calm is in order.

Hard as it is to do, try to separate your pain from your child's. When those you love are in pain, it is difficult not to worry. As much as we want to help, there are times when they must resolve it on their own. It is really tough to keep the right balance and stay sane and helpful. If you say something unhelpful, you will know it fast enough since you will be cut off. If you are on the phone they might say, "okay mom, gotta go now."

It is often true that you don't hear from your adult child when things are going well, but you can be sure the phone will ring when trouble arises. We strive to be a safe harbor for our children when they need our help and support. If our children are more concerned about our reaction to their problem they will not come to us. The goal as parents should be to "hold them close with open hands."

Monday, March 5, 2012

We Are the Product of Our Own Upbringing

At our last grandparents meeting, the topic was “Letting Go of Our Adult Children.” This led us to a spirited discussion of our own parents and how they parented us. We felt that it was very much a part of the topic, because not only do we have to let our children grow up in their own way, we also have to let go of our own parents to become the realized people that we are.

Our grandparents’ generation was a product of the Depression. Their goal was to see that their children “had it better” – food, clothing, and job security. After World War II, parents wanted their children to have a better life than they had, and thought they could achieve this through higher education and acquiring material things. This generation wants their children to be safe and accomplished; they move at a much faster pace due to new technologies. The stress level is much higher today due to economic pressures and social and world insecurities.

Our generation had to let go of what we sometimes thought of as petty tyranny and parental control of our every action. Some of us were never really able to do that. We have a friend in her eighties who constantly blames her mother for her own faults. Amazing but true. What do we need to become fully formed adults and to be our best selves? We need to let go. We need to have the ability to see ourselves realistically and not be a pastiche of what others want us to be; not our parents’ vision nor our own childrens’ vision. We just need to be us!