Between Parents and Adult Children 5

As I watch my daughter and granddaughter interact, I am transported back to a time when there was absolute love, trust, and unbreakable synergy between my daughter and me  Ditto for my son and me.  Amber used to hug me as though she’d never let me go.  Cy used to look at me as if I was all the honey in the world and he was a bear.  Then they each grew up…and things changed…as they should!

The love never leaves although the bond between parent and child can be strained at times, especially as they journey over the bridge between childhood to adulthood (i.e., the teenage and young adult years).  There are periods when parents and children just don’t like each other.  As the child grows into adulthood, usually the unabashed love returns accompanied by a new companion – absolute appreciation.  In young adulthood, we often find out that there is no universal parental job description and so the things that we took for granted that our parents had to give and do for us we come to understand they chose to do.  How can you not appreciate a parent choosing to love and be there for you?

I’ve met people whose parental ties were severed (from either side of the relationship).   Seeing that, I came to appreciate that my mom never let me go, even when I climbed through doors and windows...and moved all the way to Boston to get away.  I never let any of my children go in my heart, although there were times when I was emotionally hanging on by a thread.

Our parents are really only responsible for our first 18 years.  After that, we need to let them off the hook and begin to take full responsibilities for our actions.  Most of our parents did the best that they could at the time.  Most of us parents would alter a few things if we could go back in time.  But we can’t.  We learn to live and grow with this essential relationship that continues to develop.

Still, it can be hard not to have the closeness with a parent or with a child that you expected.  Children are supposed to grow and go, whether literally or figuratively.  Young adult children make decisions that as a parent you can see are going to hurt them and you have to let them – giving advice, praying, and holding your breath as they do.  (Just like your parents did for you.)  As teens grow through being young 20s, a parent begins to be able to exhale a little bit.  They are fully launched.  They are making proactive decisions now rather than just reacting to perceived or real obstacles, attitudes, and constraints.  Their choices are more likely rooted in thoughtful analysis.

Surprise! Surprise!  Your children are often better than you.  Their landscape is broader.  They are bolder, better with money, and sophisticated travelers.  They understand and use technology effortlessly. You feel good about preparing them for a world different than the one you grew up in.  You feel proud of the generational progress they have made.  My son and daughter are people I am proud to have reared and would hang out with even if I hadn’t raised them.

I see them clearly and it is important that they see me clearly, too.  You can love a parent or a child fully cognizant of their foibles, faults, and oversights.  Neither has to be deified to be loved.  Love the parent and child you have – not the fantasy you imagined.  And if, perchance, you have a parent  whose love you don’t feel, be thankful that they brought you  into the world.  Only they could do it; you were absolutely meant to be here.  Give yourself the love you need after that first 18.  Delight in being here.   

The chance to renew and strengthen a bond is always available.  (It can even happen with a deceased parent when you realize the love they gave and appreciate the fact that you had it and it can still carry you forward.)

I love you Amber, Cy and Mom.

About Candelaria Silva

Candelaria Silva-Collins is a marketing, community outreach and programming consultant; writer; and trainer/facilitator who lives in Boston, Massachusetts. She has designed and facilitated workshops on a wide variety of topics including communication, facilitation, job search skills, team building, and parenting issues. She currently coordinates the Community Membership Program of the Huntington Theatre Company. Her work as Director of ACT Roxbury was profiled in several publications, including The Creative Communities Builders Handbook. Candelaria’s children’s stories, short stories, essays and reviews have been published in local and national publications and she is an active blogger. Her publications include the booklets, Handling Rejection; Pushing through Shyness: Networking Tips when You’re Shy, Slow to Warm Up or Just don’t Feel you Belong; and Real Questions about Sex & Relationships for Teens: A Discussion Guide for Parents. She has served on the boards of Goddard College, Wheelock Family Theatre, Boston Foundation for Architecture, and Discover Roxbury. She is currently Chair, Designators of the Henderson Foundation.

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