By author and channel, Jodie Helm. (Ignore the “by Pete” line above. All I did was post Jodie’s article to save her the trouble. – Pete)
Sunday was usually a family day when I was growing up. My mother made a big dinner, such as a pot roast or fried chicken, and we all sat down at the table together to eat. Do families still do that? If not, I’m sure they have modified things to fit their own family, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
The parent/child bond has to be the strongest human bond there is, don’t you think? My youngest is almost twenty-eight now, but my kids will always be my babies, even as I admire and accept that they are adults now. Raising our kids is the hardest, most rewarding, scariest, most loving time of our lives, and it’s not easy for anyone involved. I asked the Angels for some guidance in how to navigate not just raising our kids, but accepting them as our equals. Below is their response.
Parents and children have so many challenges. Some they face together, and some individually. Do you have any guidance for us on how to make our time together easier?
This is a good, important topic to discuss, as it involves the majority of people, and you are right that it is challenging. Usually people think of how hard a job parenting is, but growing up has its own hurdles, and for people in the same family, living together, it is often difficult to find common ground. We do not wish to tell you how to parent, but we can offer some things to keep in mind over the years.
Most parents love their children and vice-versa. There is usually an increase in tension between the generations as the child begins growing into adulthood, which is common and understandable. While the child is dealing with hormonal overloads and trying to figure out who they want to be, the parents are trying to make their own adjustments, which usually includes balancing support and encouragement with guidance and protection. Neither role is easy or comfortable.
Most parents want their children to grow up to be responsible adults, good people, and self-sufficient, and they take their parental responsibilities very seriously. Most parents give their very best efforts to raising their children, although all parents make mistakes they regret later.
When children are young, the parents are usually the most important and impactful people in their lives. It rarely occurs to them that their parents are vulnerable in any way. Parents are all powerful and all knowing, and they see them as their own super heroes. When anyone is put on such a high pedestal, he or she inevitably has a long way to fall and usually does at some point. This often happens during the teens and twenties as the child goes from idolizing their parents and wanting to be like them to resenting them and not wanting to be like them at all. The parents often feel hurt and unappreciated, while their children feel the same invincibility they previously applied to their parents. This is a very temporary state in most cases, but it is often disturbing for all involved.
As the child grows into adulthood and starts out on their own, most begin to become more aware of the everyday challenges their parents have faced and overcome that, as children, they never noticed. The more responsible they become over their own lives, the more they begin to find a new respect for the strength their parents have shown and the sacrifices they made for their children. Any leftover resentment is usually cast aside.
This renewed appreciation for their parents is magnified if and when they begin starting families of their own and learn first hand how strong parental love can be and the awesome responsibility that comes with it.
As their children go through these phases, the parents are trying to make their own adjustments, trying to accept that, not only have their children grown up, but their role as parent has changed as well. It is often difficult for parents to accept that they are no longer in charge of or responsible for their children. This is often a bitter pill to swallow after devoting so many years to raising their children. Some feel a keen loss and experience a time of uncertainty, and wonder what to do with themselves.
Healthy people in healthy families usually adjust beautifully eventually, especially when the parent/child bond remains intact. Parents rediscover a sense of freedom to pursue their own interests and put their own needs above those of their children again. Grown children continue to find their own way, so they can lead their own children, and once again, they often envy their parents and look forward to a future when they can again live for themselves. And the cycle continues.
If the person or the family is not healthy, it is a very different story that can affect generations. We are not talking about abusive people or families, we are talking about angry people and families that have fixable issues and where love is present, along with the anger. It is to these family members we address next.
Humans are imperfect by nature. To expect perfection from someone is unfair and impossible to achieve. Children who harbor resentment for what they consider to be failings on their parents’ part should remember that no one is born an excellent parent, and that parenting does not come with an instructions manual.
Each child is different, and parents are not mind readers. Many parents find that what works for one child may not work for another, and that is often perceived as special treatment, favoritism, and unfair. On the other hand, parents that try to raise all children in the same way are often criticized by their children for not listening or fulfilling their unique needs. Parents often find themselves at a loss while raising their children, and that is normal. Children need to remember that all people, including their parents make mistakes, and they do the best they can.
Parents who still think they should be able to tell their grown children what to do and how to live their lives as adults need to realize that they are no longer in that role. They raised their children and now it is time for them to give their children the same respect they want from them in return. If their children’s choices differ from their own, they should accept this, knowing that their children are and should be living their own lives independently of their parents. This is reason to rejoice that their children are strong and have minds of their own. Parents do not need to agree with their choices, but they do need to respect them.
Once children become adults, they should be treated as such. Parents should realize that they are at the same level now. Parents should no longer be put on a pedestal, and their children should no longer be looked down to or be under their control. Offer guidance when asked, otherwise observe and support your children’s choices. Understand that neither of you are the center of each other’s worlds any longer, nor should you be. This is a good thing.
If the day should ever come that there is a role reversal, and the children become caretakers of their parents, do so with grace, love, and gratitude on all sides. Parents, accept help with gratitude, and children should offer help with patience and dignity. Respect should be practiced on all sides. Parents need to remember that, although they cared for their children for many years, their children do not owe them a debt. That was a choice they made that should not have strings attached.
Children should remember that, although their parents may need their help, they are still adults and deserve respect. If it becomes overwhelming, discuss the situation calmly and with love and find a solution together if possible. Whatever you do, do so with a loving heart. If it becomes overwhelming, that is alright, also. Not everyone makes a good caregiver, even to people they love. This is a gift only some possess, and if it is not your gift, there should be no shame or guilt. All parties need to be aware of this.
Treasure the time you have together. Make memories at every stage to savor after one of you transitions. Know that you will one day be reunited and that love never dies.
We send you Love and Light.
Changing roles as parents and children is difficult for everyone involved. Parents are losing control that they are used to having, and children are assuming more responsibility on top of everything that is already on their plate. It feels awkward for everyone at first, but with patience and open communication, things can work out in a way that everyone can handle.
We shouldn’t judge strangers, much less the people in our lives. My parents made mistakes, and so have I, as have my children. We’re all likely to continue making mistakes. There are some things I’d do differently, but I have the peace of mind of knowing I did my absolute best for my kids, and they know that, too. We’ve forgiven each other for any slights we carried, and I’m so very proud of the people they’ve turned out to be. I don’t take all the credit, but I do feel like I contributed to their success.
And when I say success, I’m including but not focusing on their careers. My kids have good hearts, and they’re good people who, like all of us, sometimes make mistakes but try their best to do the right thing and make good choices. That’s all we can ask of ourselves as well as each other.
Blessing to everyone.
Copyright © 2022, Jodie Helm. Republished with Jodie’s permission. You can also read her articles on Medium.com with a paid subscription.