*Original photo by Rachel Solomon
Welcome to the Big Red Sofa…pull up a cushion and let’s chat. It’s just a few days until Christmas and I’ve been enjoying time with my grandchildren, my daughter, and my son-in-love. I hope you are with those you love this week too!
This week is the time of year when families gather to share the joy of the season, along with the food, the presents, and the break from the demands of the world. It can be a time of great expectation too. The kind of expectations that can lead to stress and hard feelings. Families grow and change which means that sometimes traditions have to change too. Sometimes, the way we’ve always done it has to give way to the way we are going to do it now.
This week on The Consilium Podcast, Diane Bailey and I talked with Susan Stilwell and one of our topics was about relating to our children as they become adults. I have other friends whose children are getting married, or went off to college this fall, or moved out on their own. No matter how the change comes, it’s not always an easy transition. Sometimes we spend years looking forward to the day they will be on their own and when it happens, we forget to let go!
I haven’t always done things right with my kids…in fact, I usually say they grew up well in spite of me, rather than because of me. But with the view of hindsight, here’s four things I think we have navigated well in the last 12 years…
- Respect their personal schedules. When your kids grow up, they have lives and responsibilities too. They can’t always get to the family gathering when we want them to. Or stay as long as we wish. Sometimes they can’t come at all. Jobs may keep them away or you might have to share them with their in-laws. In our family, we have chosen to celebrate the times we can be together and not be put out by the times we can’t. That doesn’t mean we don’t miss one another when we are not together…it just means that we value the times we are together that much more.
- Realize they have the right to do things their own way. When I come to stay with my daughter, I have to remember that I’m staying in her home. How she decorates, cleans the kitchen, and disciplines her children are up to her. If we want to be welcome in their homes, we can’t tell them how to run those homes. Short of safety for my grandchildren, I do my best not to offer my opinion unless I’m asked. And my kids know not to ask my opinion if they don’t really want to know what I think! 🙂 Seriously though, mutually respecting each other as adults has helped us become friends as they have grown up.
- Remember to listen. If we want our kids to talk to us, we have to listen. A lot. Yes, some of the things they tell us may worry us. Yep, we’ll disagree with some of those things too. Yes, there’ll be things we’d rather not hear. But the fastest way to shut down the conversation is to react negatively to what they are willing to share. When my kids tell me something that concerns me, I remember the point in the above paragraph…they have the right to do things their own way in their own lives. Listening to them without judgment just might earn us the right to speak into their lives too.
- Recognize what they are doing right. Tell them how proud you are of their accomplishments. Validate their choices. Thank them for being productive members of society, for parenting well, and for loving you. Express gratitude at being included in their lives, invited into their homes, and introduced to their friends. Everybody wants to be affirmed, and even though they are adults, they still need to hear our approval.
Like I said, I’m certainly not an expert. But my kids not only call me Mom, they call me their friend too. That’s nothing short of a work of God. And having them for friends is the single biggest blessing of my life.
My list certainly isn’t exhaustive either…what would you add to encourage us all in maintaining healthy relationships with our kids when they’re all grown up?
Thanks for creating community here with us! The Big Red Sofa Series is about the things I see in life that make me go hmmmm. What God teaches me in scripture. The ordinary things that God can use to drive home spiritual lessons. The questions I sometimes ask. The stories we can all share. So pull up a cushion and join me on the sofa. I’d love to hear from you!
- Subscribe to the blog so that you won’t miss a single post!
- Like Holly Barrett on Facebook and click on Get Notifications.
- Follow Holly Barrett on Twitter and use the hashtag #BigRedSofa.
- Follow the Reclaiming a Redeemed Life board on Pinterest.