Saturday, January 21, 2012

Drawing a Line in the Adult Sand

"I'm 21; I'm an adult now!" he protested to his mom.

What makes an adult? Is it age? Hardly! Being an adult means maturity in decision-making, considering sound opinions, accepting accountability for behavior, becoming emotionally graceful and patient with others, accepting your own fallibility and mortality, plus a realism about life. While I've seen 18-year-olds who are (or have been forced to be) adults; I've met 30-year-olds who are not!

So, as a parent, when do you back off and let your child be an adult? And what does that "backing off" look like? What if you see the oncoming train wreck? Do you remain mum? It's not easy knowing when your child is an adult because it is a character issue. It takes time to ripen into adulthood and, for parents, it takes time to see this growth and arrival. Hopefully, during the young years we've taught our child to gradually accept responsibilities, and have opportunities to fail so he/she learns.

Any loving, responsible parent will nurture an involvement and show interest, in his/her children regardless of age. The opposite of love is not hate - it's indifference. So, this blog is for those who get the condescending, critical, and disapproving comments from other people who think parents are stifling their kids because they continue to ask questions and show interest later in life.

I recently had conversation with a young gal - probably 25-years-old - who made repeated references to me that my daughter "was an adult" when I inquired about her situation. Well, let's look at it this way, I've invested time, energy, support, finances, prayer, and tears for many years over my daughter. I love her and care what happens. We enjoy honest communication and a relationship. And frankly, I resent an outsider - someone who has no investment to lose - making innuendos that I'm not accepting my daughter as an adult because I'm curious about a situation in her life. It's easy for people to raise eyebrows and criticize parents. I'd really like to ask this young lady - who couldn't understand since she isn't a mom - if my apathy would prove I recognize my daughter as an adult? She probably thinks emotional distance translates to a healthy parent/child relationship.

Gradually we must back off and let our kids grow up; give them wings. But that doesn't mean completely withdrawing from their life. You don't withdraw from your friends to prove you accept them as adults, do you? You still care, question, have opinions, and look out for their welfare (if you're a true friend). I'd love to know your thoughts. Where do you draw a line in the adult sand? Or what comments have you withstood when you questioned, wondered, worried, or had an opinion about your grown-up offspring?

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