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Seun Tuyo: The Intricate Art of Parenting Adults



Just like many others, the story of how a young boy killed his father under very obscene circumstances made me cringe with fright and repulsion. {Click here if you missed it}
Arguments happen. We all get to the verge with our parents, especially as adults. There is bound to be conflict of interest as a result of differences of opinions. However, is it enough to strike your Dad or Mom? I certainly hope the majority reading this would have a quick and sharp response saying ‘No, Not at all’.

Traditionally, tt starts with a man and a woman falling in love, they get married and conceive a baby. The baby becomes the center of attraction as soon as its existence is known. Everyone is happy.  The parents are committed to ensuring that their little baby gets the best out of life, usually much better than they may have had themselves. Efforts are made to ensure the child is prepared in different ways to be independent and successful because someday, if all goes as planned, they will no longer be available to nurture, support, protect and counsel the child. At least, that is the initial idea.

However, children grow and they make changes while at it. Not just physical changes but also psychological changes.  Parents also grow and change too. While these changes happen, the parent/child relationship and mutual responsibilities changes. An easy way to look at it is to think that the role of the parent transitions from full-time managers (infant/toddler) to part-time managers (adolescents) and thereafter, consultants (adults). The demands of an infant are different from that of an adolescent, just as with an adult. As an infant, the child is fully reliant on the parents and therefore needs a full time manager. As an adolescent, the child begins to nurture relationships among peers, preferably independent of the parent. It is expected that they will make mistakes and learn from them with the help of coaching and guidance from parents. In this instance, parents are part time managers. Once the child becomes an adult, especially one who has left home, the relationship is different and so is the demand and availability of both parties. They require more consultation off their parents than management. But how do you come to terms with the fact that you suddenly have to let go of a child you have invested so much time, money and effort trying to raise? In as much as the adult child requires this transition, parents find this phase really daunting.

Here’s a scenario,

You are fully grown, you have everything under control, and you have moved out of the family house, you have a job, pay your bills, participate in positive causes and live generally, responsibly. You are proud of how far you have come and how you are holding up. And then a holiday comes and you decide to spend some time with the folks. As soon as you walk through the door, someone calls out “dust your feet outside so you don’t walk in with sand”, “Hurry in and shut the door because of mosquitoes”, “Take your hand off the walls so you do not stain them”, “and clear your plates from the table”.  And let’s not start with the “Come and greet Uncle” or “Take (handing you the phone randomly), say hello to your aunty” episodes.

…And suddenly you think to yourself while rolling your eyes and shrugging, “Oh there we go, I am home and I am 10 years old again”

This must happen to nearly all of us.

Once a child reaches their twenties, the relationship between the parent and the child fluctuates. Communication is tougher, conflicts are more likely to occur and more effort has to be put in to maintaining the relationship. The greater struggle becomes how to find a level playing ground without overstepping each other’s boundaries. This can sometimes be likened to walking on eggshells around each other. Common issues between parents and adult children that develop as a result of this stem from how much time they spend together, what they spend it doing, how much information they share, what battles they fight and which they brush off, what kind of advice to give, how it is given and when to give none at all. Gradually the parent and the adult child become more distinct individuals with different goals and priorities. It is that time of detachment.

Detachment processes can be tough for both the parent and adult child. Nonetheless, it is important because children need to mature and assume certain responsibilities for themselves and their immediate environment, at the minimum.  Most parents will always have a mental picture of “their little girl/boy” for a lifetime. However, some will go beyond that mental picture and never come to terms with the fact that the child is now an adult. They will constantly interfere with the adult child’s work, relationship and general living by rendering unsolicited advice and inadvertently “managing” the child. The communication techniques especially with para-language may not have changed from that of a teenager to that of an adult. The parent will still address the child as though they are the “little girl/boy”. Usually they convince themselves that this is done to protect the child from the unforeseen but in real sense, it breeds tension, anger, hatred and conflicts. Parents need to respect boundaries and accept the adult child’s maturity at some point because the child needs to grow and develop to be responsible.

Growing up, a child will experience pressures from their peers to behave a certain way but if the parents instilled the right discipline and showed good example at an early age,most often the child will return as a responsible adult that any parent will be proud of, regardless of the pressures. Therefore, the adult child will not require a parent cum manager but an advocate of their independence and self-confidence.

Each generation comes with unique pressures and expectations. Adult children are so busy with life that they forget sometimes that parents need to feel warmth and affection from them. As parents grow old, retirement comes and they get lonely. They miss the laughter and bond they had with their children. Why not make it a point of duty while you still have them to remember them? Make a mental note to call or text at intervals; these little gestures warm their heart. If you know you may not remember, add it to your to-do list. Write it down and commit to it. Technology makes it easy these days. I believe that most parents mean well for their children, unless in some rare and very delicate instances. We cannot tell our history, good or bad without them. Parents play a major role in ones’ life and need to be appreciated and acknowledged. Most importantly, they will not be around forever.

Patience, tolerance and forgiveness are major pawns in the game. Enjoy your time together while you can. We all are unique individuals. It is better to relax and enjoy the moment than to put unnecessary pressure on each other and foster avoidable grievances that will eventually create room for anger and frustration. Live in peace and love.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime |Konstantin Sutyagin

Seun Tuyo is interested in social development. She loves to interact with people and has a desire to make a profound and positive impact around the world. She suffers moments of weaknesses at the sight of a cold bottle of Coca-cola and Chocolates. Feel free to reach her on twitter and instagram @seuntuyo.

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