I've been in much discussion lately with my two boys. Two "boys" who are now young men. And it occurs to me how much different it is parenting young adults vs parenting young children or even teens.
The older one is 26 years old. He married a woman with two adorable children a few years ago. They now have a 17 month-old together and another one due in March. This "boy" of mine is a police officer in a town in north-western North Dakota with a population of about 18,000.
My second "boy" is almost 20. He is employed full-time for a national warranty company in their computer support division, a really good job, and is in college full-time. He lives about 55 miles away in a small city in north-central Montana. He has his own apartment, no roommates and is doing pretty well for himself. He's in a very committed relationship with a committed Christian young lady, who recently left for college in Texas.
I have been so incredibly fortunate in that my sons and I have wonderful, if sometimes painful discussions. About everything. In fact, sometimes I wish they weren't so forthcoming with the minutae of their lives, but overall I realize how very very lucky I am to have this with both of them. Other people marvel at it, both their friends and mine. They both talk to their dad fairly openly as well but sometimes I know he hears about some things I don't and vice versa. And that's FINE!
They both call and ask for advice. And therein lies the rub. Yes, if they ASK for my advice I will certainly give it. What I've had to learn as my sons have grown into adults is: Give the asked-for advice, then back off and act, I said "ACT" totally UNconcerned as to whether or not they take it!
It's similar to when they were small and we had to allow them to learn certain things the very hard way, through natural consequences. Now though, at their ages, the oh-so-wise parent in me, the one who's had to make the difficult LIFE-choices, trembles when she has to force herself to BACK OFF and let those natural consequences happen! I mean, these are the HUGE LIFE-CHOICES the "boys" are asking about!!
One of them will ask for advice and he has either already checked it out with his dad and is calling to see if I say the same thing, or will call his dad after he's talked to me to see what Dad has to say. Then, he'll say thank you, go on his way, and make his decisions for himself. We usually learn later if he took anything we had to say into account.
The other one is a natural worrier. He will worry about a problem that isn't going to present itself until the year 2012 or so. He will call every day and ask the same questions. I'm not much of a worrier, but I do worry about this one. Until he learns to leave the worrying to God, and he's a devout Jesus follower, he's going to stay awake nights pondering...until he's so stressed he won't be able to concentrate on school or work. Just today he's called me 4 different times with questions that start: "What about...?" and "What if....?" A lot of the time I end up telling him we don't need to concern ourselves about that yet, and when it's time, he'll deal with it.
So, I get on my knees, again, and turn this son of mine of to the One who created him. And I also ask our Helper to help me stop worrying about this child of mine!
Parenting young adults IS a bit different! For all the trials and errors, ins and outs, ups and downs we had when they were young, it now seems like it was easier then. Or maybe I'm just wistful for those "olden days" that seem so far away now.
Friday, Sept. 18, 2009