Advice from a Mothering Mentor
Recently we asked moms on the MOPS Community Forums what questions they would like to have answered by Carol Kuykendall, author of Five-Star Familes: Moving Yours From Good to Great. Here are a couple of the questions asked and Carol's answers!
Q: How do you get your parents to stop treating you like a child? I’m a mature 32-year-old woman, but my parents still treat me like a rebellious 16-year-old. They don’t acknowledge that I’m an adult, a parent, and leader in my own church, respected by people my age — but not by them!
A: First of all, I’m sorry for your parents. Because they are missing out on one of the greatest joys of parenting — and that’s being friends with your adult children.
When you come up against this kind of pattern, you have to be honest and courageous enough to talk to your parents about your feelings, not just feel them. Don’t expect parents to “get it” without putting words to your feelings.
Here are some suggestions:
- Plan a time to have a calm conversation, face-to-face if possible.
- Acknowledge the importance of your relationship first.
- Use “I messages” to express your feelings: “I feel like a child rather than an adult when I express my opinions to you.”
- Offer a plan of action: “I’m going to tell you when I feel that way…”
An unexpected blessing can grow out of your question, and that is your determination not to treat your children this way as they grow up. We have to intentionally let go of micro-managing their lives. We have to encourage them to become the people God created them to be. We have to let love grow from “I love you because I need you” ...to... "I need you because I love you.”
We spend two-times as many years as adults together with our children than we do in the parent-child-rearing season of life. Aiming for that season means remembering our goal as parents. We raise our children to become adults. We work ourselves out of a parenting role.
Q: How do you set boundaries with grandparents? Schedules, food, safety, discipline, and gifts?
A: Wow! I’m a grandmother so my first instinct is to take the grandparents’ side. How do you set boundaries? You don’t! Hey, we’re old! Let us love your kids the way we want. Our job is to spoil them and give them back to you. Besides, they are our reward for surviving your teenage years!
Okay -- just kidding. Sort of.
In reality, grandparents do bring a whole different kind of love into a child’s life. Just as a dad will parent differently than a mom, grandparents will interact with your kids differently from you.
Let them! With a few limits. But choose those limits. That’s the common advice you often hear in parenting: “Choose your battles.” Don’t have a long list of rules. Decide on a few of the most important ones. Clarify and communicate them. Repeat them. Enforce them. Maybe you choose car seat safety, food restrictions, and manners. Then cut the grandparents some slack on the rest, especially if they aren’t endangering your child’s safety. I figure a little later bedtime and a new book sends a grandchild back home ready to sleep longer the next day.
What matters most in the bigger picture here is establishing relationships that link the generations together in a family. Your children play an important role in that picture. The goal is to enrich the relationships all the way around the family circle.