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Be Careful, Parents of Young Adult Children…

These are difficult years of transition. As much for your children as for you. They are learning to be adults without you, and you without them. They are learning to love, learning to work, having babies. Be careful. 

Many tend to think that they can do anything, say anything, and they will still love you unconditionally. After all, those are the rules that govern your heart. But it is not this way with adult children. They have their own family now, children to protect, a life to live, a spouse who does not know your ways, a family of in-laws, a workplace of colleagues, a circle of friends pulling at them. Be careful. 

For this is the season of life when adult children decide how much of their parents they want in their life, and in the lives of their children. You cannot simply demand access:  You cannot simply stamp and shout and expect all to be forgiven, as in bygone days. They have their children, their marriage, their legacy to consider. 

You must be considerate, and kind. You must recognize that you are no longer in charge. And that you are no longer at the center of the story. 

The story has always been about the children: yours are grown, and have children of their own. Children belong first to their parents: that is the way of things, and if you remember those first jealous, flaming moments with your own children, you should be able to understand. You are not at the centre of the story. You are on the outside, looking in. 

You must ask. You must knock. You must leave your disgruntled manners, your demands, your needs, your immaturities at the door. Who is the matron of the house? You will cede to her wishes in the kitchen. What is the rule of the house? You must cede to it in religion, in child-rearing, and in manners. 

You are wanted: a healthy child wants his healthy parents to be involved. But you have no right to intrude. 

Is there any sight more beautiful than the manger scene? Mary, Joseph: penniless, young, beautiful, clueless. Between them, the saviour of the world! What an enduring symbol of hope for humanity!

And once, you had your day, kneeling next to a manger of your own, bearing the torch of newborn hope for another generation. 

And now it is their turn. With angels, sages, and shepherds, you are invited to bring gifts, praise, help, and company. Come! Come! Come, adore. Come! Warm yourself by the glow of youth.

But be careful, don’t touch or you will be burned. 

Elbow your way in to grasp that child for your own, and you may quickly find that the child has been whisked away to Egypt, leaving you cold, alone, in the dark and with a bloody sword in your hand, wondering “where have they taken him…?”

Be careful young grandparent, be careful. 

It is their turn now.

And decisions made now are often never revoked. 

A word forgiven may not be forgotten.
Anger that burned once may warn twice.
Lines will be drawn, hearts will be closed.
Houses will be bought, careers will be chosen.
Decisions made, relationships broken.

Birthdays, graduations, vacations, marriages
So much hangs in the balance,
Of these tender, turbulent years

When your young adult children learn to find their identity,
And you fight not to lose yours.

Fight? Oh, do be careful!

Be careful, oh be careful, you parents of young adult children…

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