Have you ever noticed that there are rarely any articles written about parenting teens or adult children? It seems as if the internet and social media are almost silent on the subject. I will admit that I haven’t shared much in this arena either. It’s difficult to tackle many of the issues that our teens and young adult children face and yet we need advice, guidance, and support so that we can help them deal with these complex issues.
Part of the problem lies in the fact that as our kids grow up we become aware that they no longer want us to share their lives like we did before. My little boys don’t care if I write about their shenanigans and they would gladly (and proudly!) show off their man bits regardless of who is at the house; the younger girls love to know that something they said made it as the quote of the day; and my middle schoolers love to hear that others think a video they have created is awesome or that a picture I have taken of them has received numerous likes on Facebook. But as they hit high school (and sometimes sooner) suddenly something changes. They don’t want us to share their lives as much. And as parents who love our children, we respect that wish.
But I think there is something more going on here.
Parenting is hard work. It’s easy to recognize this fact when we are up all night with a teething baby who simply won’t stop crying. It’s also easy to recognize when we have toddlers who flush anything and everything down the toilet. We can see it when our elementary age kids are being bullied or scared to start a new school. There are so many resources out there to help us face these problems and to assure us that we are indeed good parents.
When we begin parenting teens, young adults, and adult children those worries don’t go away. Sure, some of them may no longer exist (like not needing to change diaper after diaper or fish your toothbrush out of the toilet) but in their place are other issues… some that are far more worrisome than if we are allowing our precious little ones too much screen time or whether or not they had too many gummy bears for snack time.
No one wants to talk about those complex and scary issues that our older kids face today. We don’t want to say that our kids may be pulling away from the faith we have always held so dear; we don’t want to talk about their struggles with school or the fact that maybe our child has no college aspirations or didn’t get into college; we don’t want to share that our child may be sexually active; we don’t want to talk about the fact that our adult child has lost a job; we don’t think anyone will understand that our child has made poor decisions and is suffering the consequences of those decisions; we don’t want to talk about the depression that has taken over our once bubbly child and now affects every aspect of his life; we don’t want to talk about the emotional distance that is growing each day between us and the child who once loved being glued to our side.
We don’t want to talk about them because we feel like no one will understand. We think we will be judged… and perhaps, by some, we will be. We worry that others will see us as a failure. But it is important to talk about all the issues we face when parenting teens and adult children. It is imperative, even more so now than when our children were young, that we have advice, guidance, and support. It is crucial to hear that we are still good parents and that yes our children are going to be ok!
We never look at our babies when they are first laid in our arms and think, “One day I will kick this little one out of my house”, “one day this sweet baby will be addicted to drugs”, “one day he will be failing math”, or “one day this sweet child is going to turn her back on God and all that we have worked to pass on to her”. Without support or guidance it would be easy to feel like there is no hope.
I believe that many parents often feel overwhelmed and a sense of despair because it is nearly taboo to speak of any of the problems we are having with our kids. While we need to provide our children with the respect they deserve and we must always protect their privacy, as parents we have to reach out to connect with others so that we will know how to effectively and lovingly parent these children whom God blessed us with.
It is wonderful to share the beautiful aspects of parenting (and we should!), but let’s be honest… parenting is hard work. It is demanding work. It is dirty work. It is exhausting work. It is work that, without the love and support of those around us, could easily break us.
I am the worst at sharing what I am going through. I worry that people will look at me and deem me a failure when they see the struggles that our children have encountered or are encountering. I keep my worries and my problems bottled up inside. The advice I share here is every bit as much for me as it is for anyone reading. We have to get past this fear of judgment and share our daily battles, worries, and struggles as we parent our teens and our adult children. When we put our pride aside we stand to gain wisdom, strength, courage, and love- all things we can then pass on to our children.
Everyone, no matter who they are, needs love and support. There are no perfect children and there are no perfect parents. We are each struggling to do the best we can. But imagine if we were to put our pride aside and reach out to one another in our most difficult times… our lives and that of our children would be so much better.
Let’s not do this alone.