The art of parenting adult children

rowing

Once I thought of writing a book about parenting adult children. I decided it would have one page in it. That page would have two words in large, boldfaced font, “Let Go.”

Letting go is the hardest part of parenting adult children. Letting go of their decisions, their whereabouts, their lifestyle choices — so much to let go of!

The hardest part is that, unlike when they are young, their choices have such HUGE consequences. They might be on track for college and end up sidelined by pregnancy. They might choose to drink and drive and end up killing someone and spend the rest of their young adulthood in prison. They might try extreme sports and end up paralyzed from the neck down. I have friends that have faced all three of these scenarios with their kids. It’s heartbreaking, it’s tragic, and it’s life. And we parents want to spare our kids this kind of pain, but we can’t.

My own kids have made some decisions I wanted to protect them from Choices I was scared might ruin their lives. These were their choices, not mine. And you know what – they are both okay. They have both survived their choices, learned from them, grown and become rather impressive individuals, if I say so myself. Because navigating life is what we all have to do, it’s how we grow, learn, and develop.

So how do we parent adult children? A friend recently told me a wonderful story that mutual friend and author, Alice Fryling, shares. It’s about the story in the Bible where Jesus is off praying and sees his disciples out on a boat in a storm. He walks out to the boat and calms the sea. Alice was contemplating this story and her role as a parent of adult children. “What can I learn from this?” she asked. The first and most obvious answer is to pray for our kids. Nothing, and I mean nothing, has taken my prayer life to the next level like having kids. I don’t know how people that don’t pray survive the stress and worry of parenting. It is the one thing I can do when I can do nothing.

But Alice then realized there was something else she could do. She could sit in the boat. Just be there. Be available during the storm. She shared this insight with her adult daughter and her daughter replied, “Yes! I want you in the boat. Just don’t try to row.”

“Don’t try to row.” That is it in a nutshell, isn’t it? That is the art of parenting adults. Be in the boat and don’t pick up that oar. Don’t splash around where you’re not invited. Be present, be available. And, sometimes: They might. Even. Ask. For. Help. Or advice. Then you can give it, but only then.

That’s what I’m learning about parenting adults, how about you? Any tips from your experience as a parent of an adult? Any tips from an adult child on how to or not you’d like to be parented?

letting go

LETTING GO TAKES LOVE

To let go does not mean to stop caring, it means I can’t do it for someone else.

To let go is not to cut myself off, it’s the realization I can’t control another.

To let go is not to enable, but allow learning from natural consequences.

To let go is to admit powerlessness, which means the outcome is not in my hands.

To let go is not to try to change or blame another, it’s to make the most of myself.

To let go is not to care for, but to care about.

To let go is not to fix, but to be supportive.

To let go is not to judge, but to allow another to be a human being.

To let go is not to be in the middle arranging all the outcomes, but to allow others to affect their destinies.

To let go is not to be protective, it’s to permit another to face reality.

To let go is not to deny, but to accept.

To let go is not to nag, scold or argue, but instead to search out my own shortcomings and correct them.

To let go is not to adjust everything to my desires, but to take each day as it comes and cherish myself in it.

To let go is not to criticize or regulate anybody, but to try to become what I dream I can be.

To let go is not to regret the past, but to grow and live for the future.

To let go is to fear less and love more.

Remember: The time to love is short.

(author unknown)

1.Photo Credit boat

2. Photo Credit Letting Go

Navigating Climatic Culture Shifts

erosion

Rain in dry northern Nevada is unusual, averaging about seven inches of precipitation a year. Lately, we’ve had these crazy monsoonal rains. They come hard and fast, with hail, wind and pounding rain, and last about an hour. They cause instant flooding here because we just don’t know how to absorb that kind of water.

My husband and I took the dog hiking in the desert after it had a chance to dry from three days of these crazy rains, and we were shocked how the landscape had changed.  Sharp rocks, formerly covered in dirt, were exposed and made walking difficult. We had to tread gingerly to stay upright and keep our balance. Deep ruts where people had trekked through the mud made walking much more fatiguing. And landslides covered some of the trail, which caused us to look and listen carefully for safe passage over or around these obstructions. I was glad we were on this hike together as I would have felt rather unsafe were I alone; it would have been easy to fall or twist an ankle.

It reminded me of what it feels like to be a part of the American culture right now. Things keep shifting dramatically. Almost every day there is a storm that changes the landscape of our nation. Gays are getting greater civil rights, racism is getting uncovered for all to see, and the confederate flag is coming down. These big changes, these epic shifts, will eventually make us a better place if we can negotiate them well.

The problem is, how do we negotiate these changes well. If you’re like me, change is hard. Actually, I love change, if I’m the one choosing it, then it feels like an adventure. But, if a change is thrust upon me from outside, I find myself kicking hard against it. Some people have kicked hard against the culture shifts we are currently experiencing and now their feet hurt because no amount of kicking can stop a culture shift.

plant

How then, do we negotiate these changes with grace? Here are some ideas from my recent hike:

1. Sharp rocks, formerly covered in dirt, were exposed and make walking difficult. You have to tread gingerly to stay upright and keep your balance.

Sometimes it’s hard to know what to say when you are faced with a culture shift. It’s easy to shut down and stop moving. The key is to keep walking. Walk slowly and carefully forward, engaging as much as you can with those around you who are also experiencing this shift. It may feel scary and strange, but God is still on the throne. None of this is outside of his providence. He wants to heal our land and we must keep moving forward to experience that healing. Be patient and gentle, sharp rocks (hurtful words) might be painful, try not to kick them at each other. We are all just trying to figure this out.

2. Deep ruts where people had trekked through the mud and were now dried, make walking much more fatiguing.

These changes might leave you feeling particularly fatigued. Be kind to yourself: rest, take breaks from the news and social media. But, don’t stay in that place too long. We need to continue the walk toward healing together.

3. Landslides covered some of the trail, which caused us to look and listen carefully for safe passage over or around these obstructions.

Right now, the most important thing we can offer each other is keeping our eyes open and listening carefully. Understanding will be the key to navigating these shifts together. If you find someone who has a different opinion or experience than yours keep your mouth closed and listen. Try to see the world from their point of view. Look for things you can agree on and start the discussion there. Talking about racism or LGBTQ issues can be uncomfortable. Be willing to be uncomfortable. We all in this together and we need to listen to each other in love.

4. I was glad we were on this hike together as I would have felt rather unsafe were I alone; it would have been easy to fall or twist an ankle.

Most importantly, we need to help each other. The best way to understand the LGBTQ experience is to make a friend from that community. Really get to know someone; it’s impossible to hate someone you have spent time getting to know.

The same is true with racism. Spend time with someone who looks different than you do. Really listen, invite each other over share food. Do this in community. We are on this hike together and we need to be there when the going gets tough.

Pretty soon your gay friend will become just — your friend. Your black friend will become just – your friend. Pretty soon we will see beyond our differences and see each other as fellow hikers on this new path together.

How are you feeling about the shifts in our culture today? What have you found helpful in negotiating the changes?

(One thing I’m trying is writing a book from the experience of a marginalized population. It’s my way of trying to identify with the daily issues of those who have been kept out and made to feel “other.” Please join me in my small attempt to change the world by pre-ordering “Cracker,” and sharing the link to this book).

Photo Credit Link

My Small Drop in the Ocean of Battling Racial Inequality

race-equality

You can’t turn on the news these days without being exposed to racial violence. Black men are gunned down and incarcerated at an alarming rate. Black churches are attacked with shooting and burning.

I, as a white person, would like to believe that none of this is really happening because it’s not happening to me. Or…is it?

As a Christian, I believe that when one member of the body suffers, we all suffer. I suffer with people from my (mostly white) church when they lose a family member, a job or receive a horrible diagnosis. Why then, don’t I suffer with my black brothers and sisters when they face repeated injustices on a daily basis?

Once I had a difficult conversation with a friend of color. She said that it was like she was in a boxing ring, having to fight for equality every day, not only against systemic injustice but also racial prejudice. She experiences microaggressions every day. “little” aggressions, like being followed by undercover cops in a store, or finding the ethnic hair products in the “Pet Food” aisle.

My friend’s boxing ring is a place where the fight rages, and white folks can enter the ring to join the fight. But my friend said there is a big difference between us. She can not jump in and out of the boxing ring, but I can. By virtue of living her daily life, she is always in the ring. Her challenge to me was, “Stay in the ring with me.”

Those words haunted me. I’ve done a lot of reading and processing about my white identity and the power I was born into. I want my voice at the table of racial reconciliation to count for something. But…what could I do from largely white Northern Nevada?

Well…I’m a writer. I decided to literarily use my voice. I wrote an alternative history, with the hope that white readers would get that feeling of being stuck in the boxing ring, unable to get out, and perhaps take a step further on their own ethnic journeys. I even included a discussion guide at the end to help the conversation to move forward.

This was a terrifying book to write because it could easily be misunderstood – I could easily be misunderstood. I could offend people on both sides of the story; I could make matters worse rather than better. But really, how much worse could they be? I have the opportunity to influence, in my small way, our world for the better. I decided to take that opportunity, despite my fear.


“Cracker” is that book. Even the name is incendiary. You can find the book for pre-order on Amazon and in all formats on Smashwords. I’d love it if you would read it when it comes out and give me an honest review, or if you have a blog and would be willing to do a post, contact me and I’ll get you a copy now before the book is launched.

I’m taking a huge risk here, but it’s a risk my friends of color take every day. Once, when another difficult conversation with a friend of color got uncomfortable, I shut down. I got quiet. She asked why. I said, “I’m so afraid of saying the wrong thing. I feel like I’m stepping on eggshells in this conversation.“

She said, “Jacci, I need you to be willing to break eggshells. You need to be willing to say the wrong thing in this conversation. Keeping silent gives you power. By being willing to say the wrong thing in love, you open up the possibility for a real conversation, no matter how painful.

That is what I’m doing. I’m trying to open up a real conversation. Even if it’s painful.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on how to keep the conversation about racial equality moving forward. What have you tried that is working. Have you messed up like I have? I’d love to hear your stories. I really believe that we all need to do our small part to change the racial inequality in our country.  We can each add a drop of what eventually becomes an ocean of change.

I’m attaching a video I find very amusing. I think it makes “microaggressions” something we can talk about because it is done in a humorous way. That’s what I’m trying to do with Cracker. It’s not humorous, but I’m trying to use fiction to open up a dialogue. Enjoy!

Photo Credit: Good Men Project