Parenting on Demand – What does it looks like using Integer Values in Parenting Adult Children?

The choice to be a parent is the choice to have your heart walking around outside your body as long as you live…

Many parents are concerned about their relationship with their adult children. Especially in recent times where children either do not leave home after school or return home after study or a travel break.

Relationships with our children is always evolving and parents may even feel a sense of loss of role and function as they see how their children grow from full dependence at birth to greater independence when they finish school and enter places of further study or the marketplace.

Feelings of Guilt and Anxiety can complicate your relationship with your adult child! Therefor it is important that you come to understand yourself and your emotions. If you do not it can lead to being:

Permissive: Because of feelings of guilt, you give in to unreasonable demands and allow the adult child to manipulate you.

Angry: Feelings of guilt can also lead to disappointment in yourself and can fuel feelings of anger towards the adult child.

For healthy adult-adult relationships to develop parents and adult children must redefine themselves and their roles and the following Integer Values can help with that:

  1. Authenticity

“Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we actually are.”  – Brené Brown

Being authentic means bringing in my true experience to the picture. Allowing my deeper, internal processes to be viewed more transparently by those around me. It means I’m not playing any games. With anyone. It means trying to step away from manipulations, coercion, control, victimization, aggression and tit-for-tat, instead speaking your truth, plain and simple.

An Authentic Parenting philosophy does not take a top-down approach where the parent is all-knowing authority. Authentic parenting takes a more human approach to the parent-child relationship. Seeing parents and children as equal and as teaching each other.

If you and your child had conflict well before adulthood, it will not disappear overnight on their 18th birthday. Accept—and celebrate—the uniqueness of your child.

Share your wisdom and insight (without being critical).This is one of the many challenges in parenting adult children, but it is also a strong way to build a bond of understanding and empathy with them as well. Join them as fellow pilgrims on their journey.

Parenting adult children may mean offering expert advice and guidance that adult children can implement. It may also mean that you will have to wait for them to ask for your advice and guidance before offering it. They have the right to make decisions in their own way and must respect those choices even if they have to suffer the consequences of wrong decisions.

Create an atmosphere in which your children always feel like they can talk to you. Adult children will not always be asking for advice, but rather, just asking for a sounding board.

Authenticity is a practice, a conscious choice to of how we want to live. It is a collection of choices we make every day. It is the choice to show up and to be real. The choice to be honest.  The choice to let our true selves be seen. (Brene Brown)

  • Connection

“The secret to connecting with others lies in the connection you have with yourself”. – NVC

Relationships between parents and their grown kids can be incredibly meaningful when worked on intentionally.

Connection is the energy that exist between people when they feel seen, heard and valued; when they can give and receive without judgement, when they derive strength and sustenance from the relationship. (Brene Brown)

Both parents and adult children hold responsibility for shaping, maintaining, and managing the relationship. That effort includes initiating contact, compromising and negotiating, and finding mutually enjoyable ways to connect. 

Do things you love together.  Whatever traditions, hobbies, or activities appeal to you and your adult child, commit to enjoying them together on a regular basis.

Make room for significant others in their lives. It may be hard to share your children with their significant others, but these relationships are an important stage in their launch toward independence.

Affirming their accomplishments creates the space for a positive response and better connection. Avoid condemning words and arguments.

  • Wholeness 

“Wholeness comes from embracing the fullness of who I am, just as I am. Wholeness, not perfection, is the route to the actualization of our deepest humanity.” – David Benner

We attempt to hide our difficult stories to appear more acceptable, but our wholeness and even wholeheartedness depends on the integration of all our experiences including our failures and falls.

There are all sorts of ways to describe or think about wholeness in a family, but probably most important, we can feel it in those times when we feel connected in love and understanding and belonging.

If you can love yourself unconditionally and unfailingly you will be able to love your adult child unconditionally and unfailingly and that will help your child to grow towards mature thinking and behavior.

We must recognise the adult child’s perspective and admit that we are at least partially responsible for the problem. We can only bond in weakness – not in strength!

Setting boundaries with adult children. No matter what your living arrangements are—adult children living at home, adult children living overseas, and everything in between—you still need boundaries. Setting boundaries with adult children may feel uncomfortable at first, but the more you do it and stick to it, the easier it will get.

Make family meetings a regular occurrence. If you have fostered open communication throughout your child’s life, regular family meetings will feel much more natural. Regular family meetings allow a safe space for siblings and parents to share issues of concern, and to process hard things together.

May you succeed in building strong relationships with your adult children through the values of Authenticity, Connection and Wholeness.