Friday Parenting Thoughts: The Job Doesn’t End

I remember once being asked when, as a parent, you got to take off the referee jersey and put up the whistle when it came to your kids.  I think I laughed, and told them it was yours for life, you just blew the whistle less when they moved out of the home.  This, along with a few other questions I’ve heard over the years, tells me we have something fundamentally wrong as parents.  It is not a job that ends.

Legally, our children are adults at age 18.  Yet, you and I as parents have decades more of accumulated wisdom, and they are just teenagers.  They need us to provide them the words of wisdom.  Yes, they need to start making their own decisions, but it is not something we do not speak into.  A good parent needs to be able and willing to provide input.

I am not saying you be a nag.  Nor am I saying that you but your nose into your son or daughter’s business everytime you have an opinion.  But, as a parent, you still have a job.  They still have a need.  As they launch into the world, try to give them the knowledge to launch in a good direction.  As they grow older, you volunteering advice should decline, but their asking for advice will likely increase.  Because they need it.

Look, 400 years ago you and I would be living on our traditional family home, with our parents there with us.  They would still be giving us advice.  We would be giving our children advice, if not outright direction, in how they should go with life.  This concept of parents speaking into the lives of their adult children is old, and is a piece of goodness lost in the evolution of our society.

Today, most kids go to a college they chose, with little to any input from their parents.  They major in something they chose because it sounded cool or interesting without their parents walking them through a decision making process to analyze what would be good for them.  They date, they marry, often with little to no consideration of getting their parents advice.  They continue to make dozens and dozens of first time decisions that have huge implications without asking or receiving any guidance on how to judge if these decisions are wise.

Sounds a bit crazy to me.  Again, your kids have boundaries and need to make their own decisions as adults.  But as they prepare to go into the world, give them advice on how to make choices.  Later, ask them about things in their life, and when appropriate, ask if you might give them some advice.  Your kid may refuse it, but on the other hand, they may be very grateful for it.  Whichever they choose, they need to know you are available to them still.

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