Whether you turn to the right or to the left,

your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying,

“This is the way; walk in it.”

Isaiah 30:21

A brief interlude ...

Before I move on to point #6 in my Top 10 List for Parents of Young Adults, I want to take a brief interlude to talk about an  issue that parents of young adults often deal with: Caring for aging parents.

No wonder when we are in our 40's, 50's and 60's we are often referred to as "the sandwich generation."

This will come up again when I talk about the sort of general kindness parents should show toward their becoming-adult children, and that newly adult children should show toward their parents ...

because very often,

just as parents are launching their own kids out of the nest,

their parents are experiencing the beginning of age-related health issues that often cause them to need the attention and care of their own aging kids.

This can be a beautiful time in a family's life, where those of us who have leaned hard on our own parents can, in effect, pay them back for all the ways they have supported us by supporting them in new ways.

This can also be an exhausting time for those of us who are working hard to support our young adult kids, working hard to find time and energy for our own lives and marriage, all while caring for aging parents more and more and more and more.

In the past couple weeks, I have been to the emergency room twice, spent about 6 days in the hospital with one of my parents, and have sat by my father-in-law's bedside singing hymns and reading the Psalms to him.

It has been a deep, deep honor to do these things.

This time has been filled with holy moments.

It has also been exhausting.

I have been my best self, and my very worst self.

I have cried. I have laughed. I have felt crazy. I have felt sane. I have felt numb.

I have wondered why I am so tired.

I have berated myself for not sticking to my workout routine. (Idiot)

I have had insomnia.

I have slept for 12 hours straight.

The only little piece of advice I have for my friends who are walking through this stage, or will, is to be kind to yourself, be kind to your parents, be kind to your kids, be kind to your spouse. Be especially kind to your dog.

Show up as often as you can.

And get some rest. Workouts will wait.

 

No guilt over holidays ...

I was talking with my parents the other day about this idea of not using guilt in our relationships, especially the relationships between parents and grown children.

My mom, who happened to be in a hospital bed at the moment with wicked bronchitis, perked up when the topic of parents using guilt arose.

She gathered what little breath she had and said:

"Tell parents to especially not use guilt around the holidays! Make sure that they know to let go of traditions when necessary and to not demand that their grown kids show up when they always have shown up in the past. Let your grown kids know that you would LOVE to have them for Christmas (or Easter, or Thanksgiving, or Groundhog Day) but that if they can't make it this year, or if they can only come for a few hours, or part of a day ... that is JUST FINE!"

She said she had watched many parents her age use guilt especially around holiday gatherings and she thought it was so destructive.

I can testify to the fact that my parents have never used guilt or manipulation to try to get us to spend time with them.

Even around the holidays.

One Thanksgiving when all the rest of our family traveled to Chicago for our annual big turkey day celebration, my folks had to stay home because my mom had just had a hip replacement. They happily bid us farewell, ordered a full Thanksgiving meal from Hy-Vee and settled in for a great weekend of feasting and watching old movies. They couldn't have been happier and more content.

Brilliant!!

Don't use guilt around the holidays ...

It will always backfire ...

Give your grown children the freedom to decide when, where and how to celebrate as they become adults.

My bet is, if you offer them grace-filled freedom, they will very often find their way home!

 

 

If not guilt, what?

Point #7 in my Top Ten List for Parenting Young Adults is No Guilt.

Do not try to make your kids feel guilty about the amount of time they spend or don't spend with you.

It doesn't work.

"Ok," you might say ... "If I can't use guilt, what do I do instead? What if my adult child never calls or never visits and I wish they did? Then what?"

Well, call me crazy, but what about simply expressing your heartfelt desire to see or hear from them more often?

Radical, I know.

But so hard for so many of us! 

Why?

I think it is because we are scared of being hurt. We are frightened we might open our hearts up, be vulnerable and have our newly formed adult stomp right on our tender emotions.

And that very well may happen. It really might.

But, isn't being honest with them in a friendly, non-demanding, non-manipulative way worth the risk?

Who wouldn't want to hear, "I like you. I wish I could see you a little more. I hope we can talk just a little bit more. I want to know a little bit more about your life. It is interesting to me?" 

Here's the thing though: If our child says, "No," to our request, we must be open to asking them what we might be doing that causes them to deny our request for more time.

Are we willing to hear the truth? Even if it hurts?

Mom, you give too much advice ...

Dad, you never really listen to me. All you do is talk about fishing, or your own job ...

You aren't kind to my boyfriend ...

You complain about my apartment and how dirty it is. That makes me feel bad ...

You call at all the wrong times ...

Parents, this is hard stuff. And I know nothing is cut and dry. No two situations are alike.

I also know guilt is a terrible motivator. Being honest is hard. Truth often hurts.

But isn't the potential for an honest, open relationship with our adult kids worth the risk?

No guilt ...

Moving on the #7 of my Top 10 List for Parents of Adult Kids ...

#7 - No Guilt!

Parents, do not make your adult children feel guilty about how much time they spend with you.

Guilt never works.

It almost always creates the opposite of the desired outcome.

Trying to induce guilt is a passive-aggressive way of communicating. It is childish. It is cynical.

It pushes your children away from you.

Don't do it. Ever.

That's all I have for now.