Wednesday, April 4, 2018

User Manual for Parents with Adult Kids at Home

There comes a stage in life when you look at exasperated, somewhat embarrassed parents of toddlers throwing tantrums with a sense of longing. And amusement too. You reminisce the good old days of your own kids who are now adults. Except, the parents on the other side don’t get it. Continuing to mollify their baby, they give you a cheesy smile, ‘You sicko. Don’t laugh at our misery. Why don’t YOU tame this monkey, huh?’ 
But you’ve come a long way from terrible two’s to turbulent twenty’s. What comes to your mind is your own kid - far away in college. And the eerie silence of your empty nest. 

That is when you solemnly place a hand on your heart. You promise that you will not yell when you spot wet towels on the bed and shoes strewn all over, as if in a war zone. No grumbling over pizza crumbs on the bed and nail clippings on the side-table. No questions asked. Just come back. 

If you are fortunate enough, they return - only to fly out forever. But once your adult kids are back home, you learn to balance the equations all over again. Truth be told, it is time to control yourself, not your child. It’s a good idea to dump your trademark gems - ‘It is for your own good - Do what you want - You will thank me one day - When you are my age you will understand’ in the nearest dustbin. Their efficacy is no more guaranteed. 

For starters, learn to ration your questions. Talk when they want to talk. It’s a tightrope walk between zipping up and speaking your heart out. What to say. How to say. And above all, when to say. Remember how you waited for your parents to be in a good mood when you wanted them to listen? Exactly. 

Nothing scares you like the announcement, ‘I’m taking the car.’ Of course, they will drive. Adults do. You did. But this one sentence can cause tremors worse than a major quake. 
It is past midnight, and you are pacing down the corridor. Waiting. Different voices in your head begin to strum. While dads begin to snore as soon as they hit the sack, your motherly fingers linger on the Whatsapp. Last seen one past midnight. Must be driving. When you hear the door click, your motherly instinct will urge you to pop out of darkness and ask ‘beta khaana khaya?’ 
Calm it. Learn to override the old parent kid relationship. New boundaries are a key to better understanding. 

Whats App is a blessing when you don't wish to intrude

If your kids were in a hostel, they are not used to explanations about their whereabouts. When the timing is right, remind them to send texts as a matter of a family safety rule. There’s a thin line between your maternal fear and genuine safety concern. 
I understand, it is not easy to give up that privilege of popping ‘when, what, where and why’. After all, these gems were the pillars of your parenting. But now you are dealing with adults who are at home for a brief period when they could well be living in New York or Singapore. So even if every cell of your body is screaming, ‘where were you’, your parenting is now about respecting independence. 
Emotional support, yes. Physical support, not as much. Intrusion, never. 

Bear in mind that they survived without you in college. Their nocturnal routine is likely to press your stress buttons. Yet, you can do little about their unearthly hours. What can’t be cured must be endured. This is not to say you can never express your discomfiture. Look for the right time and the right way to convey what is not acceptable. 

Since you are mastering self-control, reign in the urge to pass on the phone to make them talk to relatives. I understand the relevance of family, but for reasons unfathomable, talking to relatives over the phone is as painful as their first period or a deep gnash while shaving. Extend invitations for family functions, but don’t force togetherness. As with most of us, they will interact when they wish and not when you force them to. 

Self-explanatory, right?

Despite all your restraint, three consecutive late evenings and there is the risk of you reverting back to your old obsessive self. "Shakl dekhe hua Zamana ho gaya". 
Reign in the paranoia and count your blessings. Because if your kids were in a different city, the outings could well be five nights in a row and you wouldn’t get a whiff. Moreover, there is always the risk of being too presumptuous and imagining the worst when all they were doing was hanging out with friends or watching a movie. At the risk of sounding preachy, it is best to trust your upbringing. Mostly, young adults are more responsible and mature than you imagine. 

All said, parenting doesn’t get easy, it just gets different. And by the time you’ve mastered it, the rules change. Damn! Must mothers always oscillate between challenges? 
Well, yes. 
Once you accept that you are now an emotional consultant and not a quality manager, it’s a beautiful phase. A great opportunity to bond before they fly out to raise their own families. Above all, tech-support for your phone and laptop is just a knock away. 


No comments:

Post a Comment