Click here to listen to Episode 54 of The Welcome To Your Life Podcast: Four Ways to Help Your Adult Children Process Your Parenting Style
Let me begin by saying this is not an indictment of anyone’s parenting history or parenting style. Whether you decided to become a full-time, part-time, or no time parent is not the issue. This post is only meant to help you to prepare for the when your adult child comes to you and ask you why? Why were you so strict? Why didn’t you come to more of my games? Why didn’t you protect me? Why didn’t you raise me? Why did you have me so late in life? Why did you give me up? These are just some of the questions, I have helped my clients process over the years as they make peace with the mistakes they made as parents.
To be clear, regardless of all the parenting books, magazines, and programs you might have listened to while you were in the parenting trenches, you probably made some mistakes. We all do, no matter how hard we try to change, many of us fall back on the parenting style of our moms. This topic came to me as I processed my own parents parenting style and how it did not prepare me for life. My parents have passed away so I cannot ask them any of the “why” questions. But I was also not prepared to answer my children when they asked me why I parented the way I did.
I must admit at first I was angry and hurt at the thought or suggestion that I was anything but a model parent. I volunteered at their school, carpooled to all the after-school activities, introduced them to Jesus-that alone should have earned me a gold star. 😊 I cooked dinner and made sure they had desert each night. And I worked two jobs after their dad, and I divorced to take care of them.
I debated the merits of my parenting voraciously. Then I realized that my trying to argue and defend myself was futile. Children as you know grow into adults with thoughts and opinions of their own. The last thing I wanted to do was to create an irrevocable rift between us and I am guessing you probably feel the same way. So instead of angrily defending your parenting record try these tips instead.
- Listen Actively: Give them your full attention, get rid of distractions, and focus on what they are saying. Do not try to over talk them or defend yourself to the point that you miss exactly what they are asking or saying.
- Correct inaccuracies with love- please do not tell your child that they are lying, perhaps the way they remember an event is not entirely accurate. Just correct them gently with just the facts and refer them to someone who can collaborate your version of events if possible.
- Show yourself some compassion: as mom’s we do not need anyone telling us we made mistakes or missed the mark; we do that quite well on our own. But this is not the time to beat yourself up for all the things you did not do, this is the time to acknowledge that you loved your children, and you did the best you could with the tools you had.
- Beware of guilt: your child may try their best to make you feel guilty about missing their little league game or sleeping through their eight-grade graduation (that was me, sorry John). Feeling guilty serves no one and could hinder your ability to mend fences and create a better relationship with your child. You cannot go back and fix your parenting mistakes, but you can be the best parent to them now as adults.
Adult children are trying to figure out who they are, and why they are the way they are, this is the work all humans must do if they want to take their life to the next level. So even if you were the best mom in the world. They will need to take this journey of self-discovery. Their questions are probably not meant to hurt you but help them to process some angst they may be experiencing in their own lives. This is your time to help them navigate this part life’s journey and help them to prepare to become better people and better parents. Parenting never ends, no matter how old your children are, create a relationship with them as adults where you are not only their mom but their friend.
With Peace and Love,
Hi guys, my name is Renee. I am a Certified Coach and Yoga teacher host of the award-winning Welcome to Your Life Podcast, and the founder of the Courageous Woman’s Book Club. Thank you so much for checking out today’s post.
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