Parents of Adult Children

A Manual of Expectations for our Adult Children


July 27, 2020  |   BY KIM DAMON

No one warned me how different it would be to parent my adult children. Most of us parent our school-aged kids with set expectations, a vision, rules, and some level of control.  Then POOF; they are grown up and everything changes.     We are faced with learning how to parent our adult children differently.  Although it may be fun for us to imagine handing out harsh punishment when your adult child rolls their eyes or does not call you….  it’s no longer appropriate to demand time out, thumping their head or taking a wooden spoon to their backside. 


When we brought them home as newborns, we read books, watched other parents, maybe even talked to our own parents to prepare for that big day.  We step up to the challenge of parenting our new child with nurturing, encouragement and love them with every sense of our being.


Then they grow up and they no longer want our nurturing or abundance of love.  Most of us were unprepared for what it means to be the parent of an adult.  Not many talk about it.  We only have the vision of what our family should be with the high standards of social media families.  We might feel bad about them not meeting our fantasy family vision.  We avoid it, react to it or resist it, which only creates more negative emotions.  We might feel guilt or shame that we didn’t do a good enough job because our deep-rooted beliefs included a perfect family where the children came home every other Christmas and we peacefully drank hot chocolate in front of the fire talking about all our memories.


This is when we need to throw away the instruction manual.  We have produced this manual in our minds on how our adult child should behave.  The manual is a guide for how others behave so that we can feel better.  It serves us as parents to have this manual before they become adults, but only when we are molding them to become responsible human beings.  This manual no longer serves us as parents of adult children.  They cannot make us feel better, only we can do that. 


My manual for my adult children included them calling me for advice.  They would make me feel important, cared for and loved.  They would spend every other holiday with me.  They would call and talk for hours about what was happening in their lives.  I also knew that I would be the best mother-in-law and grandmother ever.  Do you see a pattern here?  It was all about me and how they would make me feel.  My adult children are not responsible for making me feel wanted and loved.  I now know that I already am. 


Beauty happens when parents begin to shift and accept that their adult children do not need to be perfect and they do not need to meet our fantasy expectations.  We are not perfect; we can’t expect our children to grow up and be perfect either.  As parents of adults, we can relax and enjoy our midlife.  We can sit back and enjoy them for the people that they have become.  We can be responsible for meeting our own expectations.  We can learn to love and accept them just the way they are and for the choices that they make.  We can allow them to be who they are and work on managing our own thoughts and behaviors about what it means to be in a relationship with them. 


We are human and even the closest of families will get angry at one another.  We will feel hurt from time to time and we are responsible for managing our own minds to get through it.  It took practice and time.  I made mistakes along the way and I may make more in the future.  For me personally, I love my imperfect blended family.  Although I do not have them all around the fireplace at Christmas with steamy cups of hot chocolate, I will take every single precious moment I do have.  So, here is to getting together, arguing about politics, playing adult games, listening to the grandkids play zombies with an occasional outbreak of fists or a few tears.  Here is to loving each and every one of them for exactly who they are. 


Kim Damon




Midlife Discoveries

335 E North St.

Grafton, NE 68365

​© Copyrights by Midlife Discoveries, LLC All Rights Reserved.