Posted on December 12, 2014 | No Comments
by Linda Herman, LMHC
Great Expectations Part IV
As the holidays get closer, my series featuring the Twelve Truths for Parents of Adult Children continues. In many families, the expectations for get-togethers far exceed the reality of what actually occurs. Whatever your situation, you may find some merit in considering the “truths” from my book, Parents to the End: How Baby Boomers Can Parent for Peace of Mind, Foster Responsibility in their Adult Children and Keep Their Hard-Earned Money.
Starting three weeks ago, I have featured two “truths” per week. Thus far, the following six have been discussed:
- Love does not conquer all.
- Doing more and more for others will not bring love and respect.
- Loving and liking your adult child are not the same thing.
- It is neither possible nor prudent to treat all your children equally at all times.
- Guilt-making does not improve relationships.
- Adult children need to feel “heard” before they will listen.
Here are the next two:
- Sometimes the loving thing to do is to let your child experience unpleasant consequences.
This is one of the most difficult truths for parents. It goes against our instinct to nurture and protect our children. However, as I say in my book, “there is a time for nurturing and a time for stepping aside, a time for protecting and a time for letting consequences happen as they may.” There may be no better lessons in life than those we learn through natural consequences. Avoiding letting our children experience these impedes their growth. If you pay your child’s speeding ticket, you increase the likelihood that he will continue speeding. Let him pay it himself so that he feels the pinch in his wallet. That will be a better deterrent than all the lectures you can give him about driving more slowly.
If we rescue our children from all of life’s frustrations, we risk interfering with their developing coping skills. Do we want them to have unrealistic expectations about life, e.g. that “happiness” should be the norm? If that is their belief, they will be set up for great disappointment.
- You cannot choose your child’s partner.
People are reminded of this truth especially during the holidays, when family members gather under the same roof. You may not care for your child’s partner/spouse, but respect his or her choice. In the vast majority of situations, loyalty to one’s partner trumps loyalty to parents’ preferences.
Our children taught us lessons as they were growing up. They continue to do so. A father may learn to seek the positives in someone who is quite different from himself. A mother may have her stereotypes shattered with her daughter’s choice of a young man with multiple tattoos and piercings. Most of us give lip service, at least, to wanting our children to be individuals. Let’s not punish them when they assert their individuality in the choice of partner or lifestyle.
If you think that your child is being abused in a relationship, that is another matter. Be direct about your observations and concerns. Offer your support in whatever form that may take, but remember that the decision to stay or leave an abusive relationship is his/her decision.