We spend at least 18 years trying to raise a child successfully trying to maintain a civil relationship with them. Parenting can either forge a strong relationship with our child or it can build walls that may never be breached. One of the most important tenets to remember as we are raising the next generation is that we are not our child’s friend…so how do we forge a strong relationship once the hard work is done?
I believe that the roots of a strong friendship with an adult child are nurtured throughout the growing years. It is a balance that we work hard to strike, finding the middle road between giving them the tools to a successful life and yet allowing them the space to make mistakes and find their true path – even when it looks different other than the one in which we desired for them to take. It requires that we are truly able to see them as an individual and not as ‘our child’. This is not an easy road to walk, as the temptation to try to live life through them or try to take credit for their accomplishments are struggles that we must win against.
So many parents think that if their child makes choices that run counter to what they would chose, or what they view as being the so-called right choice, They think that they failed in some way or that they will not become the adults that it hoped they would become. However, if we can learn to see an adult child through the same eyes that we would any other friend in life, then our now-grown child can be treated as the individual that they are striving to be.
In the beginning, I felt that I had to try to be as perfect as was humanly possible and follow all of the rules that most parents think makes one a good parent. Over time, though, I started to re-evaluate my ideas of what makes a person successful or happy. I started to reflect on my childhood and my relationship that I have with my mother. It was generally an adversarial relationship. I realized that I wanted my children to grow into adults that they wanted to be and could be comfortable in their own skin. This required that I could apply discipline when needed, teach them how to fail gracefully and learn to accept that they were able to make their own choices and live with their decisions.
While not all of my children have grown yet, the ones that are on their own are people that I am proud of and happy to know as individuals. I can have discussions with them that encompass many aspects of life and discuss topics openly without the worry that one might say something wrong. I can still offer advice, when asked, but a friendship is worth the work of letting them figure out who they wanted to be in life.
Writer Bio: Angela Mose
I am a mom of 7 who has successfully homeschooled for 20 years. I was married for more than 25 years and have recently started my life over. I have a passion for writing and music and when the two can be combined, it is utopia. A Maryland native, I am planning to relocate north in the near future and will continue to strive to learn and experience new things on a regular basis. I am fortunate enough to be able to work from home while exploring new ways to increase my knowledge and skills and help improve the lives of those around me.