When a mom calls her 27-year-old daughter “Poo” and her 30-year-old son “Duggles,” something is definitely out of whack. Recently my daughter told me that she was looking forward to not being called “Poo” and I realized that this is a parenting habit I need to break. An occasional use of the pet name she acquired as a baby is a harmless indulgence, but regular use? And how about continuing to produce Christmas stockings full of goodies on Christmas morning as if Santa brought them? The Easter Bunny has stopped visiting us, so that’s progress, I guess.
Worrying too Much
The fact that my offspring are still single and not (yet) parents themselves allows me to drift on thinking of them as children, when in fact they are employed and responsible adults. They are college graduates, holders of driver licenses, registered voters, and in just about every respect fully grown. They pay rent and taxes. But I worry every time they sniffle that they are coming down with something major. And why do I worry so much about their physical safety when they are not hang-gliding, bungee jumping, or helicopter skiing–just playing a little volleyball and pickup ice hockey?
Providing More Support than They Need
It is natural for mothers to think of their adult children as kids sometimes, but it can become a bad habit. My bad habit communicates to my young adults that they still need all that active mothering, when in fact it is high time for them to fly free on their own. It is time for my son to do his tax return solo, my daughter to file her health insurance paperwork solo, and me to focus on retirement savings and refurbishing this house. In fact, I often find myself neglecting my own priorities. Son buying a car? Daughter planning a trip? I am on the internet for hours, feeding them data and analysis!
Luckily, my domestic skills are weak, so the grownup “kids” do not rely on me for home-cooked meals or laundry service. Coming home to be pampered is not a realistic option for our daughter living abroad. Instead, she hopes we will continue paying her air fares to visit home. Our son brings his laundry here to save the cost of the machines in his apartment building. But he does all his own sorting and folding! I just clean out the lint trap.
Children need to become self-sufficient adults. I want to change my habits to treat my children as adults and not overgrown kids. Wish me luck!