As graduation season nears, I’ve been reflecting on the role of parenting and the goals of adulting. This year I have a disproportionate number of folks transitioning in some formal way (middle school to high school, graduating from high school or college) and a number of folks who continue to transition toward adulthood in general (getting jobs, moving out, paying their own bills, dating/marrying/procreating).
My job as a therapist is to work myself out of a job: impart skills, improve confidence, observe the ability to ask for help when needed. The role of parenting is similar, but as a parent you get to maintain the emotional support role for a lifetime, and optimally that role is reciprocal. As a parent you start by doing everything: feeding, clothing, supporting. Hopefully as a parent you move the living skills over to your child, and the young adult can launch during an agreed upon timeline. (Key concept there: agreed upon timeline. That is worthy of a separate post, and worthy of about a hundred conversations you and your child/kidult/young adult should be having together now.)
Parenting and adulting necessarily go together. You can’t launch a kid who won’t go, and you can’t launch a kid if you don’t let go. Navigating these roles, changing as needs change, and keeping track of who you are as a parent/person will all be vital. As a parent, you are also a person, and it is necessary to nurture the other parts of who you are beyond a parent. And your child is more than just your offspring – they need some space to nurture their other roles, make mistakes, recover from mistakes, and keep going.
DifferentBrains.org just posted two blog posts about adulting and parenting. Perhaps slightly different fare from their usual content, but they asked what I wanted to contribute, and since parenting/adulting is currently on my mind, those are my topics. Let me know what you think. Maybe I’m completely off base and could learn from your unique thought process.