Spring break is here and for many of us Southerners, that means packing up the family and heading to warm sandy beaches to shake off the chill of winter. Parents are busy packing suitcases making sure they have everything their little ones need hoping all this planning will result in a stress-free vacation where mom and dad get some much-needed fun and relaxation.
Ahhhh … the memory of those enjoyable days. But as I sit here and type this today, I find myself preoccupied with checking my phone to see if there is an “I’m alive” text from my college-aged son who is spring breaking on some island living his best life or from my daughter who is buried alive in her final semester of grad schoolwork. Being an empty nester has a lot of perks, and luckily parenting young adults has thus far been a wonderful experience. They are independent, engaging, and fun to be around, but that independence comes with its own set of stressors for us parents.
Parenting the littles was all-encompassing with routines, schedules, and chores but as a former teacher and organizer, that part came natural to me. Hence, my role within our family unit was that of the primary decision-maker for all things kid related. After all, I knew the appropriate ages and stages of child development and I personally knew their classmates, the parents of their classmates, and their teachers. It was much easier for me to make decisions about what the kids would participate in since I had spent so much of my life around children and my husband had not. So, the first time I heard my husband on the phone with one of our children being a “coach” for one of their teenage decisions, my heart hurt. I knew right then and there that my role had shifted from primary parent to secondary consultant. Not for everything, but in this season of their life, they needed the calm wisdom of their dad and less of the cheerleader that I was for them. While my smile showed support and encouragement for this newfound role my husband played, I was also grieving the loss of my babies that were comforted with a band-aid or a hug. They were growing up!
I read somewhere that parenting roles change from parent to coach to consultant over the years of growth, and I’m here to say this is spot on!
Now as young adults, my children are now making decisions on their own. They decide which classes to take to further them along toward their degrees. They decide if going out with friends the night before an early class is the right choice and they live with the consequences if that choice happens to be wrong. What I love about this stage is that they are excited about their independence and if they are uncertain about a choice, we hear from them so we can help them list out the pros and cons of their decision. All that being said, we respect and honor them by allowing them to make the decision, even if we don’t always agree with it.
Remember, life is about seasons. Love the season you are in today.
About the Author
Martha Carol Stewart, wife to Mike, advocate for kindness, life consultant to Riley and Reed, enthusiastic about creating fun and clutter free lives, owner of Chaos Organizing.