Just Be a Parent
Perhaps the most difficult, painstaking, and complex job any human being can ever have is parenting. And there aren’t any school and qualifying exams for adults to become parents. The moment an adult brings out that bundle of joy into the world, their parenting career officially launches regardless if they are ready for it or not. And children were not born with an attached instructional manual to guide parents on how to successfully raise them. The good news, though, human beings are innately equipped to become parents.
Parenting skills is a learning-by-doing gig. Aside from providing them with nourishment as they grow, parents also need to ensure that their children will be able to grow that inner compass to navigate through the many aspects of life successfully. Parents not only use their parental instincts to build the skills needed by the children to succeed in life, but they also apply their past knowledge and experiences which they have acquired (and are not able to acquire) while growing up.
The most challenging part that parents have to take into consideration is that each child is unique— they have their appearance, personality, temperament, and skill set. Therefore, parenting styles applied to each individual will vary because what might work with one child may not be effective with the other. The responses and behavior of each child will not be the same even if they were born in the same household, eat the same food, went to the same school, etc. Different strokes for different folks. In this case, parents have to continuously sort out their parenting techniques, approaches, and practices—all to equip their children as they deal with play, school, work, and relationships.
Effective parenting is not like how drill sergeants do it with their trainees. It is a combination of “good cop, bad cop” conservative and liberated, loose and tight ways to shape up the values and skills of children. Parenting is not an exact science. But surely, the expected end product of parenting is to provide children with a sense of self, love, support, safety, protection, and encouragement, along with discipline through boundaries and appropriate consequences. These are essential for children to become self-reliant and independent as they grow.
And parenting never stops the moment children reach their adulthood. More often than not, parents still provide guidance and even unsolicited bits of advice and sermons to their adult children in their purest intention of passing down wisdom unto their adult children to prevent them from making the same mistakes that parents had while growing up. Yet, actively parenting adult children may not always be helpful. The word “parent” is not just a verb, it is also a noun. Being a parent is not merely instructing and commanding children; rather, it is also being “a parent”—a person who loves, cares, protects, and supports their children. While adult children find their way into life, parents have to take a step back and let them learn on their own, learn from their own mistakes, and develop their conscience and instincts while building on their own sets of values. And so actively parenting the adult child, meaning telling them what to do or not to do, may result in resentment and frustration. Unless the adult child is about to commit criminal or harmful actions, or they have special needs and developmental issues, interjecting strong opinions about their decisions is inadvisable.
Rather than raising objections, parents can validate through simple remarks like, “I hope that works for you.”, “If there’s anything you need, I’m just here.”, or “Is there anything I can do to help?”. Constantly monitoring or “helicopter parenting” is not necessary at this stage of their life.
Similar to acquiring parenting skills, learning by doing also applies to adult children. Their executive functioning skills start developing from childhood until they grow up. These then become insulated tissues which facilitate neurotransmissions which result in the development of judgments, impulse control, analysis, and emotional capacities. This development occurs during their mid-20s. With that said, let the adult child undergo that beautiful metamorphosis on their own.
Parenting during the stages of growth of children is enough to put in the right mix of ingredients to produce a fully-baked adult. Adding more to the finished product might ruin the cake instead of enhancing it.
Trust that you have done a good job in raising your child into the light. Do not worry about them as they try their way in life. Be there when they need advice otherwise, continue being there for support and love.