You’d think parenting would get simpler or easier when your kid is technically an adult. In reality? Not so much.
Over the years, Chris and I have tried not to be helicopter parents. Partly this was a deliberate choice. Partly, it was a result of us not having the emotional bandwidth (or organizational competence) to micromanage our own lives, much less our kids’.
We’ve let our kids make mistakes, fail and experience consequences. There are parents our age who probably have a minor panic attack at the thought of just letting their kid fail. “But, but but! What if their entire future is ruined and they end up living in a van down by the river?”
I admit, those fears and anxieties creep up for me, too.
Chris and I both had a difficult transition to adulthood. Neither of our parents quite knew how to make the shift from telling us what to do to advising us based on their experiences. That’s not a slam on our parents – we grew up in an age where that’s just what you did. And to be totally fair, I’m not sure we would have listened to advice anyway.
The point being, we each had a tough time exercising our own judgment because we didn’t really need to growing up in fairly strict households. When you’ve always been told exactly what to do and not to do, you literally have no practice running your own life.
But we figured it out eventually. Yeah, we made some terrible decisions. We dealt with the fallout. But we learned pretty fast that real life isn’t like bumper bowling. There’s no padded rail keeping that ball in the lane, ensuring you always hit at least one pin. You’re not guaranteed a good outcome when you give it your best – much less when you’re at your worst.
The rubber is meeting the road on this particular parenting choice with our eldest. I don’t like sharing details about my kids’ lives here, because it’s their story, not mine. But lets just say that adulthood is not getting off to an ideal start for Eldest Kid. I am pretty confident that nothing has happened he can’t rise above – eventually. I’m pretty confident he’s going to have a great life – eventually. But he’s going to have to make that climb himself.
We’re happy to give him advice. We’re happy to give him room to make his own Plan B after his Plan A didn’t work out – but we’re pretty firm about his need to have a Plan B, and follow it.
I guess what I’m saying is, parenting is hard – especially when your kid is technically an adult. Adulting is hard – especially when you’re new to it. We’re navigating this new territory as best we can, like our own parents did before us.