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

Talk about your gene pool ...

Still making my way through this teaching's Top 10 List - Friends and Family: When We're All Grown Up

#9 on my list is "Be Honest."

One of the topics my adult daughter is happy we have been honest about is our gene pool.

What weirdnesses might she have inherited?

On a light note, she inherited my brown eyes, her dad's speed and her grandfather's penchant for the law.

On a more serious note, it helps her to know that I suffered post-partum depression when I was 27.

It helps her to know that her grandfather on her dad's side has dementia.

It is good to know that any anxiety she experiences probably comes from my side of the gene pool; my mom and I both have a bit of what we call "the double clutch" of anxiety around all kinds of topics. She probably will, too.

What kind of stuff in your family pool might your young adult children want to know about?

Does your family have a tendency to "hide" or try to suppress family struggle, illness or genetic tendencies? Why?

How might being honest about your gene pool help your adult children release any shame they may feel about things they are struggling with that are simply part of the genetic lottery in which we all participate? 

Be honest with your young adults about their gene pool.

We are all human.

Our families are our own special version of crazy.

 And therefore, so are we.

Kind of takes the pressure off, doesn't it?

The things that tormented me ...

Working my way through my Top 10 List for parenting young adults ...

#9 is Be Honest, meaning parents of young adults can be really helpful to our kids by being appropriately honest with them about our own struggles, confusion, bad choices and mistakes as we navigated the turbulent waters of young adulthood ourselves.

There is something powerful about knowing you are not the only human being who has ever struggled. And somehow this power is multiplied when the person who struggled in a way similar to you is your very own flesh and blood parent!

Listen to how author and social critic, James Baldwin, puts it:

"You think your pain and heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was Dostoevsky and Dickens who taught me that the things that tormented me most were the things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or whoever had been alive. Only if we face those wounds in ourselves can we understand them in other people."

Obviously, Baldwin is talking about writing about his own struggles in order to connect with his readers.

But the principle applies, nonetheless.

Parents, as your kids become adults and face inevitable dark days, failures, break-ups, rejection and confusion, listen to them first, and when it seems wise, pull out an old story about a time you faced a similar speed bump, and speak some words of hope and courage into your child's life.

They won't feel so alone.

And neither will you.

 

Be honest ...

I am working my way through the Top 10 List I created for a sermon I gave recently on parenting adult kids.

Last week on my blog, I spent a few days working through point #10 which was "Make The Transition," and today I am going to ponder #9 for a bit, which is "Be Honest."

By "be honest" I mean: Parents, at a certain point in your relationship with your young adult kids start to share your own struggles, failures, mishaps and mistakes that you experienced when you were their age.

Of course, there are all kinds of cautions with this! No young adult wants to hear stuff that is TOO personal from their parents, because ... well, just yuk.

So, make sure you are not using your kids as therapists. Share stuff that you believe will be helpful to them. Not advice, of course ... because, um, see Point #10.

Let me offer a couple examples of the kind of honesty I am talking about:

1. When our kids were teenage athletes and faced the inevitable failures inherent in high school sports, they loved to hear about how their dad dropped a punt during a very famous college football game and about how I swallowed what felt like half a swimming pool's worth of water in the 3rd lap of the 100 butterfly at a district swim meet which caused me to lose all oxygen to my muscles and drop from the lead to dead last.

These stories from our past helped them process their own failures and keep them in perspective. Their dad and I survived, and so would they.

2. As I mentioned in my teaching, our adult kids have relished knowing that their dad and I did not skate through our 20's easily, always knowing what path we should take, never stumbling, never doubting our choices, never feeling despair over our lives. They love the story of their dad staring up into the night sky as he pondered what the heck he was supposed to do with his life (he was 23 years old at the time). They take comfort in the fact that I did not figure out what I was good at until I was 35. These stories of our confusion help them realize they are not alone when they feel confused. They make them feel normal which, of course, they are.

Parents, don't be afraid to be honest with your adult kids about times in your life when things were less than stellar.

As my son said when he told me how important this was (and still is!) to him: "Knowing that you guys struggled makes me feel a lot less angst when I face hard times. I look at you and think, 'I can make it.'"

#9. Be Honest ... more on this in the next few days.

Comparison is death ...

I think it was Teresa of Avila who said:

"Comparison is the death of the spiritual life."

Regardless of who first spoke these words, they are both brilliant and painfully true.

Especially when it comes to making the transition from parenting teenagers to parenting adults.

Each person makes that transition in their own way and in their own time.

Parents need to pay close attention to their own burgeoning young adults and adjust accordingly. There is no 3-step plan that works in all instances. There are no set rules. There is no one-size-fits-all protocol.

In this journey, we live not by the law, but by the spirit and the Spirit.

As I blog my way through the Top 10 list found in this teaching - Friends and Family: When We're All Grown Up - I am reminded (and want to remind each one of you) that we must not compare our newly formed adult children with other people's newly formed adult children.

Comparison is death.

So, as you find yourself going through this transition in your family - perhaps with one child, or many - keep your eyes on your own situation. Learn from others, of course. Watch others and adopt practices and skills and strategies that fit with your unique situation.

But don't compare. Don't judge. Don't fall into despair if your young adult seems stalled out, or hits a speed bump, or takes a bit more time to fly.

It's all ok.

Do your best.

Love. Have mercy. Be kind. Watch for grace moments.

Everyone eventually becomes an adult.

So, don't compare. It will surely kill your soul. And your young adult's soul, too.