In the first flush of parenthood, it’s hard to imagine that the helpless newborn cradled in your arms will someday be an adult.
Babies need help with everything. They can’t eat, sleep or clean themselves. They would not survive without you.
Toddlers need constant supervision. They have no concept of what’s safe and what isn’t. Preschoolers need guidance, even grade-schoolers require parental input. Middle-and -high-schoolers won’t admit it, but they also need assistance. Kind of like the gutter guards used by novice bowlers to successfully get a strike.
And then..the day comes with your child becomes a self-supporting adult and leaves home to live on his or her own.
This is the day you’ve been cheering them on towards. The day when you are officially no longer in charge.
But this hard stop isn’t easy. You still have so much good advice; after all, you’re older and you’ve experienced more. Sometimes, it can feel like you’ve just been fired from the greatest. most fulfilling and intense job in the world. And you weren’t ready to leave that job just yet!! You’re not even close to retirement!!
And truthfully, sometimes you just can’t help it. The advice leaks out. Obviously only with the best of intentions. You simply want your kid to succeed..I mean…your adult child.
And there it is, what I believe is the root of the challenge. This oxymoron of a mouthful: adult child.
It’s easy to think of your offspring as your children. Because they are and have been for as long as you’ve known them. Webster defines a child as: an offspring of human parents; a descendant; a young person, usually one between infancy and youth. It’s the last definition that trips us up. Maybe the truth is we’re struggling with the definition of adult: a fully developed animal; pertaining to mature life. Maybe we need to just take a breath and let go.
A new word to describe our familial relationships could help us in that process. We could simply say our sons and daughters when talking about our offspring. But our friends don’t ask: How are your sons and daughters? They want to know about our kids, our children, our adult children!
Stop me before I get into trouble with my own adult daughters!
I’ll let you know when and if I get this all figured out. In the meantime, I’m giving my dog lots of advice even though he’s technically not my offspring. At least I know better than to advise my husband.