Sooner or later, all parents face the empty nest. After some 19+ years of nurturing, love, training, advice, duty, and slavery, your adorable, lovable, kids are now adults. They are equals to you in the eyes of the law. You no longer can wield the authority over them you once had, in fact, at best, you can only be an adviser in hope of steering them. But in the end, they will decide. You may agree to disagree many times as the future arrives and all you can do is "let it go". Yes, for the parent, letting go IS the hardest thing to do now as they go off to far away places, college, have a career, prefer friends over you, create their own families.
How Did You do?
Its a difficult assessment for sure. You only have your own adult kids to show how you did as parent. Did some things stick and others just did not as you critique your parenting style? Did you do everything right according to books and advice, yet, not happy in how things did turn out? Are you blaming yourself for their bad decisions or life paths they chose? When you look back at their childhood, do wonder what went wrong or right?
Adult kids develop into a few categories:
- They are successful in their own way, happy overall
- They are struggling or not successful, unhappy overall
- They are indecisive about what they want, not happy or unhappy
- They are making bad decisions frequently and getting into trouble, they are angry and unhappy
Usually, the parent questions their own parenting success when something or event raises a conflict or tragedy. For example, a good kid grows up to be a criminal, or, why is my adult kid shutting me out of their life? Many times, what the parent perceived as a well adjusted, happy, childhood with love, looking back, is NOT how the adult kid remembers it or how they view it. This could be dramatically different in a point of view. If the experience was bad, a resentment may have built up over the years and never revealed until the child is now a grown adult. This may be the reason for how they interact with the parents as adults. Of course, if the experience was good, then fewer issues will occur between the parents and adult kids.
But let's fact it, adult kids can be much more difficult to handle and deal with for the parents who raised them. They have their own problems, likes and dislikes, maybe different moral issues and lifestyles. It can damage a relationship if either is not accepting it or accepting each other as equals. Parents always have a problem with this because for 18 years, they were the boss. They told their kids to do something and they did. Now, it is not so, yet, the memory and habit persists. Many adult kids will just appease any differences to avoid conflict. Those who do not usually have an ax to grind with the parent, maybe something buried long ago that still bothers the adult kid over some event. It can be a simple thing, something said, that the parent thought nothing of, yet, really hurt the kid, even into their adult years. Something never forgiven in their minds.
Usually, until the adult kids have their own kids, they do not fully understand child-parent dynamics. Having their own kids provides them with a light into why their own parents raised them, or did things, a certain way. This could ease any resentments as now they understand the phrase, "You'll never understand until your a parent yourself".
Once anyone is a parent, your job or role is for life. Even though you may not see your adult kids much, the bond of 18 years or so, is there forever, through good and bad. Even if you adult kids are estranged for whatever reason, in their own minds, you and them will be connected and childhood memories serve as a reason to make contact. The bond cannot be erased, no matter how hard one tries.
perrya (author) on September 29, 2019:
That is so true, or, they make decisions you know as a parent, is a bad one.
Liz Westwood from UK on September 28, 2019:
At least when kids are young, you can pick them up, dust them down and set them on their feet again. Being a parent gets harder, especially when, as adults, you see your kids being hit with situations over which you have no control.