Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Happily Ever After


We all want our kids to live happily ever after, don't we? Right now, all four of my (grown) children are working hard to achieve four separate but equally critical life goals that are of the utmost importance to them, and I am trying my best to cheer them on from the sidelines without getting in their way. I am not always good at this.

Sometimes a parent cares so much that it becomes hard to respect an adult child's boundaries. I've been stepping over too many of those lately, and I know better. I'm fortunate that my children are unusually kind and understanding when I do this, but that doesn't mean I should take advantage of their good nature.

Parents of grown children must learn to walk a rather fine line if they want to be effective, nurturing, and welcomed supporters. A level of stewardship is and always will be there, but its nature changes with the onset of maturity in a manner that's hard to define because it isn't really set in stone. In fact, it is the fluidity of this evolving arrangement that makes it so confusing, and mistakes do happen.

I hope, when I make a mistake, that my four very competent adult children will feel comfortable telling me about it. Their happily ever afters are up to them, and my job is to cheer them on from the sidelines...unless and until they invite me to step over that line and give them a hand.

I love to help. I'm ready to help. I want to help. But I don't need to help. And I'm going to try just a little bit harder to remember that.

=)

23 comments:

RNSANE said...

I do know, sometimes, it's hard to sit back and let our adult children make their own mistakes, without adding our own two cents. All in all, though, I am so pleased with my three sons and they have done very well, without my help. In fact, sometimes they bail me out!!!

Jackie said...

Our Stake Pres always says (about mothers), "Your job is to put yourself out of a job"

I think you are doing a great job!

karen said...

I can completely understand. How amazing that our lives go parallel so often! I have a really hard time keeping on my side of the boundary line - I just want to help so badly, and make a difference for the good. But twice in the past week, I've gotten a definite "butt out" from two different kids, and it's hurt my feelings. Not really their fault I guess - but I seem to have two gears. I'm in the trenches with them, or I'm completely withdrawn. I'm trying really hard to find something in the middle.
Your kids seem to adore you - I think you've probably taught them to communicate with you very well.

Katie Blacker said...

You are a great mom. I know that for sure.

Momza said...

Enjoyed this so much because it's so RIGHT! I worry when my friends do so much for their grown children that they don't learn the lessons they should've learned years ago.
Let them grow up, I say! Let them learn to make decisions and live with consequences! Here, Here!
And always always always have your pom-poms ready for a great big cheer!

Dixie Mom said...

I'm only barely getting to that point right now in life with my oldest. It is so hard. I do think parents have the right to receive revelation for their children....even their adult children. But at what point and how is the message to be delivered. Raising adult children is way harder then raising small children...I never thought that possible.
But I also know that it's hard raising your parents too. They aren't perfect and they will make mistakes. I'm sure your children know that and appreciate all that you do.

My name is PJ. said...

This is often an issue with parents of grown children. My husband is a bit older than I am. I followed his example with his daughter and learned to wait until I'm invited to weigh in on what's going on in my own children's lives.

Of course, I bite my nails and my tongue an awful lot.

Caroline of Salsa Pie said...

Sue, the fact that you are introspective enough about the relationships you have with them to write this makes you #1 in my book! :)
As a 33 year old with a loving mom who does her best to help but not interfere, I can tell you that I understand that it's not always easy from your side (being a parent to an adult). I can't imagine, just looking at my toddlers now, allowing them to go through things in life "on their own". Letting go will be the hardest thing for me.
From that perspective, if I ever get frustrated with Mom about crossing the line, I always understand that it's not intentional and out of the best of intentions. Plus she's got about 30 years more of life experience for me to learn from, so I try to listen!

:)

Lisalulu said...

AMEN, to what you said and what Jackie said about "your job is to put yourself out of a job". I'm forwarding this to my girls.

Amy said...

Can you email my mother about this? :)
But really, I am sure it is a fine line, difficult to maneuver. Especially since mothers spend so many years teaching and helping their children, taking a back seat in their lives is most likely a difficult thing to do.
Good luck with it all.

thefamilynichols.com said...

That post was wonderful. I was just talking to my mother in law about that exact thing while visitng them earlier this month. I think it must be hard and always a learning experience. I think just as much as it is something for you to learn its something us kids need to learn and be patient with

Karen Sue said...

I needed this as #1 will take at least 5 yrs for his 4 yr degree and the only girl is off for her first year. Hard not to step in and fix it...

Jill said...

Oh i like this.
It's a constant dance I am doing also...wanting to be there for them, but not be in the way. I try to remind myself often that they are on a journey, just like I was at their age. And they will learn and grow and find their way. I can't do it for them, as much as I would sometimes like to.

Stef said...

Adult children...such a hard thing to imagine.

Sue said...

It's the best thing ever, Stef.

=)

Karen said...

Our children are always teaching us how to be good mothers. Whether they are 2 or 20!

I am sure you are the BEST support ever!!
Chin up!

Serene is my name, not my life! said...

When I say you sound like my mom, I mean that as the greatest of compliments, because i love my mom.

She has said this very thing to me before. She's great.

And so are you!

Ryan said...

Interesting...what inspired this post? :)

jen said...

I'm just starting out on this journey, and your post couldn't have been more timely.
While Heidi was home we discussed what she expects of me as "Grown-up Mom." All she really said was "support us in our decisions." Easier said than done, I'm sure, but at least I know what do to now.
Do you think Momza would lend me some pom poms?

Cherie said...

Sue I can very much relate to this. It is hard to take a step back after the years you put in helping, nurturing, doing, explaining, etc...as a mother you are always there from the day they are born and then all of a sudden you lose your rights. It is a hard thing.
But it is so beautiful to watch them fly!

Jess said...

That's why you're such a good mom- the fact that you are aware of and respectful to that boundary is proof of it.

michelle said...

I appreciate you sharing candid thoughts like this, Sue. It just helps me realize that the growth that comes from motherhood really never ends, because the challenges and questions of 'how do I do this?' are always there.

And I also have seen parenting go too far the other direction, where kids have actually wanted a little more involvement -- not in unhealthy ways, but just to have parents plugged in a bit more. Hard balancing act! ;)

I agree with Jackie, though, that I think you are doing a great job. They are blessed to have a mom who cares enough to think about these things in the first place -- and who is even humble enough about it to write on her blog. ;)

You rocketh.

BECKY said...

I just posted a comment on Robert Brault's blog last night, that you and I are kindred spirits, Sue! I think I can say I know (exactly) how you feel!

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