While many of us are still knee-deep in diapers, or sorting through the ups and downs of the turbulent tweens, I don’t have to tell you how fast children grow. The blink of an eye, a weekend at the grandparents and it seems some mornings that you could almost swear your child looks an inch taller. From the time they are tweens, perhaps even from the time they start walking they begin the journey away from you. And while I know there are countless resources and parenting books for parents of toddlers and newborns, I’ve yet to see a tome dubbed the Teen Whisperer or the Young Adult Whisperer. In its place is this: Secrets to Parenting Your Adult Child, by Nancy Williams. Is this a book that is needed in the marketplace of parenting books? Oh yes, I would argue there is a great need and I wish frankly that it had existed a decade ago so my mother could have read it. Years ago we might have laughed at this notion: the adult child. We might have even shrugged it off as a thing that didn’t exist. But the economy took a dive and grown children began leaving home a lot later. Marriage began happening a lot later than in previous generations and married career couples began waiting often until their 40s before they had their own children. Emptynesters often waited longer to become emptynesters, parenting adult children still living at home. It was most unexpected. So what are the ground rules, or guidelines for this new phase of your relationship? How do you respectfully live under the same roof as two grownups? How do you guide this adult without overstepping your boundaries? How do you continue to nurture in a supportive way the emotional health of this person who is still struggling to become independent? Luckily Nancy Williams, a licenced counselor and life coach, has some advice. Williams, also a parent of two, offers some ideas such as: active listening means not interjecting into their conversations comments like “I know just how you feel.” In fact Williams points out, you probably don’t really know how they feel because this social phenomenon is quite new. “We must be careful to withhold comments that may appear judgemental and avoid comparisons with other children _ their siblings, their friends, our friend’s children.” This is so vital to maintaining a supportive relationship. We all know how awful it feels to be compared in a negative way to someone else’s accomplishments. It undermines our confidence and also makes us question how conditional the love of a parent is. Williams challenges parents to be listeners, to use their hearts while listening and to respect that each person is unique and know that your goal for that person, your adult child, might be entirely different than their goal. Respect their vision, she says. Good advice for any stage of parenting. Become a positive coach. Use phrases like: “Tell me more,” “How can I help you with that?” Also don’t forget simple communication tools like using I statements. Secrets To Parenting Your Adult Child is a great communication tool to have on hand in general for any person with a a child in their teens and beyond. Williams can help you get to that next level with your child. While she won’t be able to help your adult child find a job or move out on their own in an economy where jobs seem scarce, she provides some good solid practical advice.
Secrets to Parenting Your Adult Child is a $$$$ out of $$$$$. The price is right for this book which fills a niche that doesn’t really get much attention. Good communication skills are vital for all relationships and with your children you certainly want to be there throughout their lives, not just until they turn 21. It should be given to all parents when their children are 18 and up.
Secrets to Parenting Your Adult Child by Nancy Williams, Bethany House, US, $12.99 Christian Life and Parenting, 216 pages.
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