Monday, January 25, 2016

Parenting Adult Kids: Navigating Life Alongside Them

He said it straight up, this truth I had been feeling deep down too.

Sitting in chairs pulled up close enough for our legs and knees to touch, we sat across from each other for maximum eye contact. And the prolonged eye contact had been stacking up, my neck tingling deliciously, our eyes flashing at each other, and his voice husky and flirting. We had been alternating between laughter and serious conversations that assessed and reviewed our relationship.
Photo: Flickr user Seif Alaya, Creative Commons cc license
Suddenly my husband's eyes turned reflective and his voice signaled a new paragraph, away from the marriage retreat material.

"You know, you need to be careful with the way you...," and he described an interaction between me and our seventeen year old daughter.

"You're right. I was thinking that late last night too," I agreed, and we sat silent in a conference room filled with twelve to thirteen murmuring couples.

"I'll talk with her and apologize for coming off so intense," I mused. Mark and I grinned, flashing eyes at each other again, and he made a joke, raising his eyebrows at me. I shifted my legs closer to him and we read the next marriage discussion question aloud. Peace and determination settled deep into heart crevices inside me.

Traversing life's many choices with our adult and near-adult children is something I'm learning as I go. Standing up on tip-toes to hug my almost-twenty-one year old son and my willowy high school daughter, I can sense this deepening gap between us. Not that we aren't close! We're very close, but parenting looks different here. 

"I get to be a groomsman," my twenty-year old son tells me, grinning. "There'll be two weddings that day!" he laughs, holding up a wedding invitation that just came in the mail.

Meanwhile, Morgan researches colleges, gobbling up class descriptions online like me in a chocolate store, and we debate the pros and cons of transfer credits and build-your-own-majors.

"Hey, Morgan." I strung words together distractedly as we pulled onto Highway 35W south this morning. "I'm sorry I came across so intense the other day. I am on your side and we'll research this together. Sound good?"

Windshield wipers scraped grey frost to the sides of the car and I could see it from the corner of my eye. Her smile was soft, warm. "Thanks, Mom."

Parenting tall young men and women is a joy and privilege. It's a constant chance for me to learn and grow as well. Side by side, my husband and I are laughing, learning, and praying as we go.

What are you thinking about this week? 

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6 comments:

Dolly@Soulstops said...

Jennifer,

What a sweet peek into your marriage and your parenting...what a blessing :-) Thank you. Your kids are blessed :-)

Bill (cycleguy) said...

It definitely is a challenge Jennifer. My oldest, 40, is living with us after moving from Knoxville. She took a $20k pay cut to move closer to home and until she can see her way financially, she will live with us. She is messy. A packrat. but I absolutely love her to death. My youngest, 36, married with my only grandchild, is going through her own crisis. She has her husband and doesn't need dad right now. But if she did, I would be right there with her. Smart move apologizing. :) Keep those lines open. They will be up and down but in the end it will be worth it. And by the way, I bend down to hug. Just sayin'... :)

Houseofmills said...

Glad to have a friend ahead of me in the parenting field. I know I can come to you and ask you questions as the hubby and I have them. You have raised up some amazing kids (or teens/adults now). This week trying to be in the moment with my kids...getting rid of distractions to focus on them. Soon they will be gone and not need me to cuddle with them as they get hurt or need me to tuck them in. Be in the moment!!

Alecia Simersky said...

It's so good to read a glimpse into your life. It's interesting how parenting roles change as our kids get older. Always parenting, but it's different. My oldest turns 15 in two weeks! Be still my heart :)

Floyd Samons said...

I'm traveling the same path with our seventeen year old senior in high school daughter. It's a tough age and time. Even after two you'd think we'd be better at navigating this time in their and our lives. May our Father guide them and us.

I like that you and your husband are on the same page, that always helps the situation!

Cheryl Barker said...

It seems every stage of life and parenting holds new challenges, doesn't it, Jennifer? We are just embarking on the days of watching our kids as parents now and learning not to overstep in that area. Lots of adventures ahead for both of our families, huh? :)