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. 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. 




Blasphemy

23 comments:

  1. Simply brilliant! I was nodding all along as I read this. Indeed a tight-rope walk it is when the kids are older and have flown the nest. My angst is that the 'dad supremo' doesn't seem to be all that affected by the roller coaster ride we moms seem to be going through, ahh yeah, they snore through the ride! Honestly agree with you, when I see parents being harangued by little devils, I feel like popping over and consoling them with, "Wait till they get older, you'll be pining for these wonder years!"

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    1. Thank you. Was missing your presence.

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  2. I’m at the ‘distance makes the heart grows fonder’ stage, Gone are the memories of her messy room, unmade bed, strange sleep patterns and half the morning spent in getting her to wake up.

    I’m at that stage when my happiness will not necessarily coincide with hers. While a part of me badly wants her to return, the other part knows she’ll be happier in Trump land

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    1. Ultimately, its about their happiness. Whatever floats their boat.

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  3. Currently I am just tired of their sparring. I am also bracing for the older son leaving in a couple of years. I guess each stage has its own challenges.

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    1. I don't know how it is with two boys. Im sure every equation has its own challenges.

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  4. This user manual ought to be the bible of all young mothers.
    I have seen all this happening near me.The mothers find ways to rationalize the changes in their children's behavior and alter their own,while the dads are totally cool.
    But all you young mothers:many more changes will come when they marry.So be prepared!

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    1. Thank you Indu. It's a different story with dads. I'm sure dads have their version. Its a blessing when they bond over work and beer ;)

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  5. Ah! I can relate to each and every word of this post and this is when my child (he will take an offence to this) is just 16 and is in a boarding school. I have truly changed my parenting style. Though I worry and get paranoid when he is late in calling me from school, I know that I cant bombard him with my earlier why where questions. And when he is back home, I have learnt to let go of the mess all around and the gadgets that blare noise 24x7.

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    1. Good to see you here Shilpa. 16 is still young. tender and impressionable. You just can't not say anything. And yet, its a tight rope walk.

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  6. A lovely read, Alka! Most of us parents forget that having given wings to our children we forget to just watch them take a flight as any other species but humans:)

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  8. Koi humse bhi to poocho !!! I have a half baked blog post in my head titled"living with buzurg log" :-P
    But Seriously, like you said we must give adult kids their space and freedom. I suppose it is a different kind of parenting when your kids become adults.

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    1. That deserves another post. I make notes about what not to do when I am my moms age.

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  9. As a son, I think I can take this as a reverse lesson too:

    "Remember how you waited for your parents to be in a good mood when you wanted them to listen?"

    A good read,

    Cheers,
    Blasphemous Aesthete

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    1. Thank you. Such a pleasure to see you here.

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  10. LOL! I love the pics!! I remember when I came back from hostel and my parents suddenly didn't want me to travel by bus!! But the best (rather, worst), when we first came to the US, my mom wanted me to call her if we went on a road trip to let her know that we had reached!!!!

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    1. Lol, my mom called me yesterday when I was out with bloggers for lunch. Just to know if i reached.

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  11. hehe...I still Whatsapp my parents about my whereabouts. But they have let me go a little since S is there to worry about me but with my sister, they still need every update because they worry so much. And I being the elder sister am in the middle pacifying both parties :D

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    1. I do it too. It's a family rule. We know who is where. Mostly.

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  12. A very enjoyable read. Now I am just wondering how it would e when my tween grows up to be an adult.

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    1. As of now, just do the opposite of what I have written.
      :)

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