Sunday, March 23, 2008

It'll be Easier when they are Grown? Forget it!

This post is about being a parent of adult children. I have six of them. Although my youngest is only 20, I can now say that all of my children are, essentially, adults. Having six kids at any time can be a challenge, to say the least. But I well remember thoughts I had when we had three in diapers, couldn't stray 6 feet from them, and never got a full night's sleep. I thought to myself: "It'll be so much easier when they are all in school". Then, when they all got in school, I said: "It'll be so much easier when they all go away to college". Then, I remember thinking, "It'll be so much easier when they get married and have a life of their own".

Sadly, through all of these phases, I have learned a hard lesson: being a parent never gets any easier. The issues simply change. When children grow into adults, the issues become more worrisome and, occasionally, heartbreaking. I lose a lot more sleep now than I did when all I had to do was help change diapers, feed a child, or lend moral support in the middle of the night to my wife as she tended to a squalling baby.

Scraped knees and assuring a nutritious intake at mealtime gave way to conflicts with friends and threatened social isolation; painful tongue lashing/criticism from coaches; heartbreak over relationship breakups; worry about the impact of academic difficulties; problems finding (or holding) a job; relationships with in-laws; young family financial problems and on and on, ad infinitum.

I encounter a lot of young parents these days who, amusingly, also relate that "It's hard now, but it'll get a lot easier when they grow up some".

I no longer hesitate in saying: "Forget it!".

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