A few weeks back, I wrote about the difficulty of balancing safety and freedom in your parenting. Today, I heard a news story that takes this idea to the next level….. what happens when these kids that we have tried so hard to protect and care for grow up? The interview was about how parents are increasingly becoming involved in their adult children’s careers. Professor Sean Lyons of the University of Guelph discussed how he once thought that stories of parents calling universities to advocate for their adult children, or potential employers to find out why their kids didn’t get a job were simply urban myths, but that this has actually become a pretty common thing.
He explained that these well-meaning parents are actually robbing their children. When we step in and take control for our kids, the underlying message is that we don’t believe they can manage for themselves. We rob them of self-confidence. We rob them of the feeling of accomplishment that they did something independently. And we rob them of the resilience that comes from facing adversity and surviving.
It all makes sense in my head. After all, I’m the one that keeps writing on this topic! But at the same time, I hear my adult son tell me with frustration, more often than I would like, “Mom, I’m fine! I’m quite capable of taking care of this!”
I just want to be a good mom. I just want him to know that I love and support him.
But my focus on the basic needs of safety and belonging interferes with his need for freedom and power.
The thing is, when I do step back, I often feel judged that I’m not fulfilling my duty as a parent. Maybe we need to redefine what it means to be a good parent. Maybe it isn’t about doing for our kids – maybe, just maybe, it’s about letting them do some things for themselves.