Did you know that believing our children are who they are as adults —is because of our parenting— is narcissistic in and of itself? I didn’t get this point either until my therapist pointed out that by ruminating over and willingly accepting responsibility for an adult child’s bad behavior toward me, I was actually being narcissistic and codependent. In other words, — I thought that any time anything went wrong with the relationship, it must have been something I did or did not teach him as a child. It took a lot of soul searching and reflection (good thing I write memoir) to actually get her point. I was too hard-headed thinking that because I was a single mother that everything he did, or didn’t do, reflected on me as his mom. It doesn’t. And, if you’re having a difficult time with an adult child, it’s not a reflection for you either.
Sure, we have to give them the best start possible in life by parenting with a balance of love, encouragement, praise — and discipline, consequences and boundaries, — but then much of our influence ends. Sometimes it ends right at eighteen. Sometimes later in their twenties, or even early thirties… but it does end. And what you see in them is the accumulation of their own lived experiences. Much of what was taught and emulated for them in childhood has long been forgotten and only their immediate circumstances prevail.
The next time your adult child hurts your feelings by being disrespectful, or downright cruel, try not to think it’s because you did something wrong as a parent. Hell, maybe you did? But, that has nothing to do with them now. And their behavior is their choice. Think about this and let yourself off the hook for their adult behavior. There are things going on in their lives we know nothing about — just like there were things going on in our lives as we were raising them, they knew nothing about.
*This post is not condoning abuse or saying we need to put up with it. We do not.