Reflections on Aging Well

Author, Living with Purpose in a Worn-out Body: Spiritual Encouragement for Older Adults (Upper Room) and Columnist, Aging Well, United Methodist Reporter

“Fixing” adult children: dilemma of elderly August 31, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — missybu @ 9:27 am

An 83-yr. old woman recently wrote me about how my book encouraged her.  Then she told me that if I write another book, I should include a devotion for older adults who struggle with trying to “fix” their adult children.

 “I need help in dealing with the notion that somehow I can fix my grown son. After all these years, I know I can’t really fix him, but it breaks my old heart to watch him wander so far from God,” she wrote.   

 As I read her letter, I realized that her struggle resonates with loving parents everywhere.  For those like the older woman, it’s worrying about a grown child’s spiritual health.  For others, it’s concern for their physical health, relationships or about a million other things. 

 Just this weekend, I went on a getaway with a close-knit group of middle-aged women whose friendship spans several decades.  As the five of us sat on the front porch of a stone house, our conversation quickly turned to the well-being of our families, including our children who range in age from 17 to 34 and our combined total of 9 grandchildren under the age of 6.

 We went around the rocking-chair circle, getting caught up on the details of our busy lives.  We shared funny stories about a granddaughter’s swimming antics and another’s  vacation mishap.  But there were serious things, too, like a twenty-year old son who is searching for his own identity and life purpose.  We laughed; we cried a bit.  Then we prayed. 

 Like the 83-yr. old woman, we know we cannot “fix” anyone.  Each person’s life journey is his own.  But as mothers, we understand what it is to desperately want your children and grandchildren to walk closely with God and to have healthy, joy-filled lives.   

 Sitting in my circle of friends, I could empathize with the feelings of the elderly mother.  As people of faith near the end of their lives, there is often an intensified concern for the spiritual state of loved ones.    

But when you get to the bottom-line, the best we can do is to love our children as Christ loved us, and to pray without ceasing.  No matter our age.

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2 Responses to ““Fixing” adult children: dilemma of elderly”

  1. Diane Says:

    So true, so true!

    I’m part of a support group for parents who have fallen under the pressure of trying to “fix” their adult children: the SANITY Support Creed affirms this post:

    “I cannot change the life of my adult child, no matter how much I would like him to change; however, I can change myself and the choices I make. Beginning today, I will set healthy boundaries with my adult child by choosing daily to follow the 6 Steps to SANITY. What my adult child does with his life when I implement boundaries will be his choice; I will no longer accept the responsibility for his choices. I will love my adult child enough to let him go. I will begin to understand that it is often through pain that God does some of His best work. I will let God do a good work in me, and in my adult child. I will gain SANITY and take back my life.”

    There is HUGE difference between helping our adult children and enabling. Just as we had to experience our life lessons–so must they to really own their own life.

    Great post!

  2. missybu Says:

    Thanks for your comments! Greatly appreciated.


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