In May, our two young adult boys came home from college for the summer. Yes, they walked in and dumped their car load of stuff on the dinning room floor and guess what? Fifteen seconds later, they are heading out to meet up with their buddies or ensconced in an online game.
For those of you who are dealing with the return of your adult kids, I know how you feel. It’s different this time. When they came home from summer camp a few years ago, they were glad to see mom and dad. Now they have their own plans and usually they are not mom and dad’s plans.
Now before we start commiserating about all the chores that they are supposed to do and the awesome internship they were supposed to line up for the summer, let’s take a step back.
During college and then when I graduated, working was not optional. I worked two jobs during the summer and then every chance I could during vacations so that I could put gas in the car and have a little spending money. That was decades ago. Today our kids are of a completely different generation and mindset. That can be hard to accept.
I sensed that things were different this year and that sent me searching for a resource or book to help me better understand my own kids. The book is “Doing Life with Your Adult Children: Keep Your Mouth Shut & the Welcome Mat Out” by Jim Burns. As it turns out, Jim’s book is spot on and I encourage every empty nester to read it.
This new phase in our parenting is very different. Our kids no longer rely on us for food (“You just ate at McDonalds?—Mom just made dinner!), clothing, transportation and social development. Yet, as parents we have not caught up. In fact, many parents are surprised when their kids have their own plans or, in some cases, have no plans at all when we feel they should (whatever happened to having unscheduled time—“Mom, I’m bored”). This is all part of their development. Yes, they are adults, but they are experimenting with decision making and sometimes making mistakes.
As a parent, it’s really hard to watch that. Our first impulse is to give advice, to help them avoid a calamity. And how does that go? Usually not too well. In fact, our young person considers our advice—even when we are right—to be criticism.
We as parents must now move beyond being advice givers and on to something else.
With our youngest heading of to college last fall I was left with kind of an empty feeling. What now? We had such a terrific senior year with him as he played in various volleyball and soccer tournaments. I was looking for another way to connect. Now I realize that my job description
has changed. I’m no longer “Dad, the advice giver”. I’m “Dad, the listener and partner.” And I need to find different ways of spending time with them.
Starting on this new journey is not easy especially when they might be headed towards a potential fail. But speaking from my own experience, I know that the most important things that I have learned in life have come from my failures—those times when things really did not work out as expected.
Being an empty nester and then having your young adult children return home may not be easy, but there is a path. It’s time to change your job description. It will be hard but it will be the best thing for your young adult children.
Questions about empty nestering? Give me a call. I’m here to help. You can schedule a quick call with me by clicking HERE.
Lyman H. Jackson Lyman@PlanWithFPS.com
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· On becoming an empty nester https://planwithfps.com/blog/on-becoming-an-empty-nester
· 4 must-do’s before you retire https://planwithfps.com/blog/4-must-dos-before-you-retire
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