When my kids were little I wanted to see all of the similarities to me and other family members…moles, mannerisms and so much more. Those observations were really fun—welcomed and celebrated.
However, as a parent of young adults I’m acutely aware of how they are differentiating themselves now. It isn’t easy to “parent” their emerging adulthood and separateness, but it’s really quite necessary.
I’m trying to understand their choices and what they represent—freedom, a (hopefully) healthy sense of self and discovering their place in the world. This is really important work for all of us. I feel more compassionate and slightly less pissed off when I access how I felt at sixteen or twenty years old. Sorry Mom and Dad. I had to do what I had to do.
Our kids are trying to understand this brand new adulthood thing and the process is a little clunky (to say the least) for everyone. Young adults that on occasion still need us like they are little kids. Little kids who want the privileges that come with adulthood. And parents who would much rather be snuggled up reading bedtime stories than watching the clock and waiting to hear the car pull in the driveway.
I don’t want to spend a lifetime feeling like there should’ve been one more book read. One more camp. One more trip. One more lesson. One more skill taught. One more ______________ (fill in the blank). If I don’t let go of the ONE MORE(S) they will keep us all from moving forward. I’m pretty sure we all want to keep moving forward.
and modeling that for my children is really important to me. I find this concept to be really crucial in my adult development. I didn’t really understand this until I was entering middle-age. As an introvert, I’ve always loved my time alone. However, the concept of really being my own best friend took years to fully integrate. Thankfully, Lisa and I finally have this all pretty well figured out now…even though she can be a total pain in the ass sometimes. I love her in spite of her flaws.
My Positive Psychology teacher Tal Ben-Shahar frequently reiterates that we have to give ourselves “permission to be human”. This doesn’t mean that we have to accept every one of our behaviors as—”oh well, that’s me” and not even try to self correct. It does mean however, that when we screw up, we can take notice, mend the damage, alter our behavior, move on and try to do it a little bit differently next time.
As our own BFF we have to encourage ourselves just as we would encourage a friend who is going through some of life’s trials.
I would love to cut short some of these challenging years for my three children. The hard years when we often aren’t so kind to ourselves…teens and early twenties. I guess some lessons are like learning to walk before we crawl though. We simply can’t shortchange the steps.
Some of our growth requires more years of life’s joys and sorrows coupled with the experience and wisdom that follows. Regardless, I believe we can start talking to our children at a very young age about being their own best friend, enjoying their own company and knocking back negative self talk.