Adult Children - Adults? Children?

So, you know they're adults, but they're also still your children.  One of the most confusing transitions I'm dealing with (and I know I'm not alone) is being the parent of adult children.  Of  my four children only one is still under 18, but that will change in just a few weeks.

The first question is, how did these babies get to be grown-ups so quickly?  The second question is, how do you stop being Mommy?  The third question is how do you stop viewing them as children and see and treat them like the adults they are?  I know several moms with young adult children struggling with the same issues I struggle with.

You think that if you've done your parenting job correctly, your children will be mature, capable people ready to take on the world.  The reality is, life throws curves at all of us.  There are students who decide to change their college majors,  tough classes and some failing grades that slow things down,  changing colleges and credits that don't transfer, unplanned pregnancies, young people who don't want to go to college and aren't sure what to do next, student loans that need to be paid back, bad economies and a tough job market and a dozen other dilemmas.

And sometimes you see your children making decisions you just don't think are wise, but what do you say and how much do you say?  The one thing we parents of adult children have in common is that we all want the best for our kids.  We hope for them to be happy, successful in whatever way they define success, and for those of us who are Christians, we hope for our children to love God and live their lives for Him.

I keep trying to remember, how did I feel at their age?

I remember thinking I was more than capable of making my own decisions, but I grew up in a much less stable home than they did and had to grow up pretty quickly so my story is different.  But, really, when I second guess their choices and think about how I might do things differently, I am being unfair to them. I am treating them like children instead of adults, and that is insulting and disrespectful toward them.

Whether they continue to live at home for a while, which they all currently are, or soon head out in other directions to pursue the path God has laid out for them, I will continue to enjoy their company, glean from their wisdom and insights, love them, encourage them, pray for them and try to keep my mouth shut.

Welcome to Day 1, Letter A of the Blogging From A to Z Challenge, hope you'll stay tuned all the way through to Letter Z.

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  1. I would say a little advice now and then is not a bad thing, but between the ages of eighteen and twenty-three I would bite the head off any person who dared suggest I was making a poor decision about something. Mom and Dad caught the brunt of that, sadly.

    I ended up learning many lessons the hard way. I'm much more receptive to advice now :-)

    1. I, too, always had to "Do it all my own way." My kids are smarter than me, though, so I pray a lot and hope for the best.

  2. My kids went thru a period where they thought they knew everything, didn't really need guidance.{they just don't turn a number and know what to do in every single situation even I don't know that and I'm 50+}
    But in the end we're always their parents and although we don't get involved in the day to day decisions they frequently bounce things off us and my kids are all in their 30's now.

    My hardest transition after the "empty nest" was fulfilling my need to mother someone, to find some sort of balance as a woman...took some time for that to come but it did eventually.

    Terrific subject!

    1. I am in this same place, trying to figure out what comes next. It's pretty exciting, and I know I'll always be Mom, but everyone has to grow up. Including me!

  3. It isn't the easiest thing to deal with. Our son is 20 and he does still live with us, but has his own job and pays his own bills and such. We try to guide him when he asks and let him alone otherwise, even if we disagree with his choices. Thankfully, he seems to have a good head on his shoulders.

  4. Our family is at complete opposite ends of the spectrum: Our 18-yr-old young adult is about to go off to college, but our 7-yr-old baby is only in first grade. The 11-yr difference between the two has been wonderful, because the "big" knows he has to make smart decisions since his little sister is watching his every move. He is almost more of a parent to her than an older sibling, & they are very close. I haven't had to deal much (YET!) with the young adult / child issue... but I know it's coming. All I can do is trust he will continue to make good choices, even if they aren't the same ones I might make. And barring that, I trust he always knows where home is.

    Our mantra every time he goes out with his buddies:
    "Have fun - Be safe - Make smart choices - Call us if you need anything!" So far his worst crime has been toilet-papering yards.

    Andi-Roo /// @theworld4realz

  5. Oh, yes. Two of my children have died before me. That's the hardest thing to get your head around. The second-hardest it to step back.

  6. I enjoyed reading your site. I am also in transition!


  7. We just married our oldest child last October... I don't understand how it happened so quickly but it did.

    Anyway, thanks for the post - it's good to know there are others processing through this stuff, too.


  8. As a young adult myself, I know I appreciate any advice my parents still give me. Just because I'm an adult doesn't mean that I'm going to brush it off, though I do realize that every child is different and some don't want advice because they think they know everything.

    I think there's a fine line between being overbearing and being a parent. A parent is always going to have opinions and advice for their child no matter how old we get, but it gets overbearing if they start to act like a Mother Hen. I think if you get that down pat, you'll be just fine.

  9. I wish I knew how to 'turn off the Mama switch' - it's been a hard transition for me, too - and not done yet... Thanks for sharing so I know I'm not Alone... ;-}

    1. I think I'm resigned to the fact I'll never really stop being Mama. I always thought I'd worry about them less the older they got. I find that's not true at all.

  10. Wow this is exactly what I'm feeling, and my youngest is still only 15. Clearly this is not an usual feeling! Oh how I wish I had the confidence for parenting adults that I had when I was parenting little ones!

  11. I hear ya! My 4 oldest are over 18 and making that bridge between the chain of command and the chain of counsel is NOT easy! I'm blessed that my children tend to seek me out for counsel, but I've done quite a bit of my own tongue biting!!

    Thanks for sharing this on Loving Our Children link-up at my blog. This is an excellent post for ALL parents to read and consider because we will all be at this point some time!