5 Things No One Bothered to Tell You About Parenting Grown Children
But First an Announcement
Hello friends! Exciting news ahead! We are going to get to all of my thoughts about parenting your grown children, but first an announcement!
I have been having a great time writing about photography techniques and teaching friends and family how to use those fancy cameras and take amazing photos. I could never give that up, and I love all the support you guys offer!
Because I’ve been having so much fun with that, I’m taking another step! Moving forward, I am excited to continue writing photography blog posts, and I also intend to share some of my insights into parenting, grandparenting, crafting, and sharing in moments of my everyday life. So… Welcome to “Grandma With a Camera!” a whole new category of blogging from Veronicajune Photography! I can’t wait to grow together with you! It is the highest honor for you to share my posts, and I hope you will share them wide and far and anywhere and everywhere! But even more, I hope you can relate to what I write.
So without further ado, I give you:
5 Things No One Bothered to Tell You About Parenting Grown Children
My faithful readers probably already know that I have five kids, four are grown children, already launched into the world, and one of whom is still living under our roof at age twelve, almost thirteen. My oldest will be 27 this year. Time has flown by crazy fast, and in those years, I have learned a few things. I have had LOTS of opportunities to learn, in fact! One of the things I find myself saying over and over since my four oldest kids have launched is “Nobody Told Me About That!” So, allow me to be the one to break some news to you so you aren’t blindsided by parenting young adults like I was.
“The more prepared I am, the more I’ll be in control, less nervous, less stressed and more focused.”Marilu Henner
Grown kids are never really gone
I have heard so many empty nesters talk about how much they miss their young adult kids. It is true. Once they move out and their everyday presence vanishes, it is amazing how much you miss the little things. For me, I particularly miss the sound of young adults coming and going, the noise of a big guy rummaging through the kitchen cupboards, and asking, “mom, where’s the ketchup?” as if I can know that from where I sit in the living room (I usually do. It’s true. You all know it).
I miss when my now grown children would make late-night ice cream runs and were available to help with some of the little chores, like taking out the garbage or carrying heavy Christmas boxes up from the basement. I miss listening for them to come in late at night and knowing they will check in with me, letting me know where they are going and when they’ll be back. There are so many tiny things to miss. I get a little verklempt thinking about it.
“Letting go does not mean not caring about things. It means caring about them in a flexible and wise way.”Jack Kornfield
They Do Come Back
I shall hold myself together, though, to tell you the good news. The good news is… They are never really gone! They may move out and make their own homes, but they sure do come back! In fact, they come and visit and do almost all the same things they did when they lived here. As my very amazing counselor tells me, every grown adult will turn back into a teenager when they come home for a visit. So, I do get the visits where they dig through the cupboards looking for snacks and where they bicker with their siblings and gang up to tease me. I get to hear their car pull up and wait for the sound of them entering the door. And when I have boxes to lift, I have them do it while they are here. When I need ice cream, I can text them to pick some up along the way home. ‘Cuz yes, this will always be their home.
When those grown children do come home, not only do I get the joys of them being here, but it gets even better! I also get to clean my cupboards out and send them off with bags of food and goodies. I’m a shopper, so it’s pretty common to pick up a little something here and there and be ready for their visit so I can hand over the goods! I think they like that, too. So, with all my worries about them leaving the nest, I have found a new normal. They are out of the nest, but they always come back!
“If the nest is truly empty, who owns all this junk?”Erma Bombeck
They are now grown adults and will make their own choices.
Funny, as I was raising my 5 kids, I expected them to turn 18, head off to college, and “be the light” in the world. I knew that I was a great mom, and each one was now a young adult ready to tackle the world and I also knew that I would be right here with a hug and a word of kindly advice when they would encounter troubles.
I did not expect how hard it was to see them make big grown adult decisions on their own without really considering my feelings. Often they make decisions I don’t understand and would not make myself. I will spare my grown children the annoyance of detailing any of those decisions, and I want to be sure and clarify that they are indeed amazing young adults, and I love them so.
“Sometimes GOOD people make BAD choices. It doesn’t mean they’re bad… It means they’re HUMAN!”Mhar
And you won’t always like those choices
“A Truly great parent loves their kids unconditionally. Even on the days they want to choke the living shit out of them.”Unknown
The fact is, no matter what kind of great parent you are, your young adults ARE going to make decisions that you disagree with. The world is a messy place, and just like you had to learn, your young adults will need to learn for themselves what works and what doesn’t in life. No matter how much I love them, I have found it so much harder than I expected to see them make their own decisions and choices. I didn’t expect how much it would hurt me to see them choose differently and see them hurt when those choices don’t turn out the way they had hoped.
As I look at my sweet grandson and his amazing, wonderful parents, I wonder if they have any idea that they will continue to love that little 2-year-old as much when he’s 25 as they do right now, and that the way they hurt for him now when he has a nightmare or a scratch on the knee, they will hurt for him just as much when he loses his first love or has a tangle with the law.
“Parents can only give good advice, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.”Anne Frank
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Parenting does not end when your grown children reach adulthood
Just as it is hard to watch those young adults you love so much grow into adults, I had some expectation that they would be adults, and therefore, independent of me. I know, I know – this is directly opposite of what I just said above. But not really, because above I assumed that they would be “perfect” adults and they would do everything just right (and by that I mean – just the way I would want them to). I mean, I am a great parent, right!? But I digress.
“Nobody on Earth can ever love you more than your parents.”Unknown
Parenting grown children goes on… and on….
Where were we? Oh, yes – they would be young adults and no longer “need” me. Wrong. My grown children do continue to need me. It both warms my heart and sets off my anxiety when they call and say things like, “mom, I can’t get a hold of dad, and I just drove my car off the road. What do I do?” Well, since they never really had the experience of driving off the road with me, why should I expect them to know what to do when that happens. So once my heart stops beating double-time and said young adult has answered the most important question of, “Are you ok?” I can revel in the great feeling of being needed.
The truth is, they still need you as a parent. As I once told my daughter (who, in the fit of a teenage rant, told me that she was tired of me always knowing more than her), “I will always know more than you, because the simple fact is, I’ve lived longer and had more life experience than you!” I hope that my grown children always need me and always feel comfortable calling me to ask for help. And I hope and pray that I’m still around 20, 30, or 40 years from now to answer that call.
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Your Family is Going to Grow…
There’s something else I didn’t think about when I was raising my sweet little family of seven. When your children reach adulthood, some of them may take a spouse. I expected that and I expected the addition of beautiful grandchildren. What I didn’t think about was how that spouse would come with his or her family. Like when you choose your spouse, and you get a whole batch of in-laws, when your grown children choose a spouse, the in-laws come all the same, only just a tiny bit more removed.
“Family is like branches on a tree, we all grow in different directions, but our roots remain as one.”Unknown
Now, as our first little grandson grows and we continue to get to know the new in-laws, we get little glimpses of them in his looks and personality. I get little reminders of how much my grandson loves both sets of grandparents when he is at my house and tells me about his adventures with his Mimi. I’m sure Mimi gets stories of our time together when he’s at her house, too. So not only did my family grow by one daughter-in-law and a grandson, but we also get to enjoy new friendships and extended family with their family, too. What an unexpected blessing!
Fun fact – my husband went to high school with my daughter-in-law’s dad. When we first met her and discovered who she was and who her parents were, we had a little giggle. Sometimes I like to look at my husband and say, “Did you ever think you’d be sharing a grandson with your old high school buddy?” Who knew!? I think it’s safe to say neither of them would have predicted this back in the day!
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Grown Children are a Whole New Crowd of Best Friends
Many scary things happen when your kids grow into young adults and launch into their adult lives. Probably my favorite thing, that is not-so-scary is that they have become friends. Just like when they were kids, my favorite time spent is the time spent with the now grown children.
“Happiness is when you realize your children have turned out to be good people.”Unknown
We have monthly gatherings at our home where all the grown children come home and hang out for the evening. That is by far my favorite day of the month. We don’t always do something fancy. We hang out. The kids all bring snacks to share, and I provide the main dish. We make sure the fridge is stocked with beverages for everyone (sometimes they help with that, too), and we just hang out.
While everyone is here together, we play pool, ping pong, cornhole, or take walks through the woods. We have had water balloon fights in the summer and played on a giant slip-n-slide that my husband constructed. One night we just sat by the little fire pit in the backyard and made hobo pies and s’mores. In the winter, my son will bring his snowmobiles, and in the summer, his Side-by-Side (dune buggy), and we ride the trails near home. We choose to do whatever suits our fancy and is weather-appropriate.
They are always welcome to bring their friends to Barschmekeman Saturday, but usually, they don’t. That tells me that in some way, I think they enjoy their time hanging out with the family just like they did when they were kids, too. Those bonds built as a family before they were grown aren’t easily broken, even when they become young adults.
What is a Barschmekeman?
Okay. I get it – Barschmekeman is a very long word, and if you don’t know our family, you may wonder where it came from and what it means. It’s simple. It is a word coined by my 12-year old that combines the last names of each of our kids. It seemed appropriate for now, although it may grow and change if there are future name changes. For now, we are the Barschmekemans. And it works.
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Wrapping it up
Grown Adults or Not, Your kids are still your kids
While you cannot be prepared for all of the emotions that come with parenting young adults, you can be ready to continue your parenting journey in a whole new and exciting way. For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a mom. I thought I would get to do that for 18 years per kid, but what a pleasure it has been to know that the journey continues long after that 18th birthday and their launch into the world.
“Parenting is as crazy as circumnavigating the glove without a map… but, oh, what a journey”Anonymous
If you have small kids at home, trust me when I tell you, “the days are long, but the years go oh, so fast,” and before you know it, you’ll be navigating life with new adult best friends. If you have young adults or even older adult children, I hope you can relate to some of my experiences. After all, we’re all in this world together, and sharing our experiences is a great way to get through the good days and the not-so-good ones!
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