Adulting and Deparenting
My kids are adulting and I must say I am proud at this bittersweet process, which includes deparenting too. Yesterday Emily went off of my family plan with Verizon and she and Connor, who dropped off His parents’ plan, are on their own plan. Clayton is doing his own taxes. Adulting is the modern term for the assumption of tasks, responsibilities and behaviors traditionally associated with normal grown-up life, yet the implication that the individual in question does not particularly identify as an adult and that acting as one does not come naturally. Deparenting is the process of letting go and working oneself out of a job, which also does not come naturally because it is one’s cherished identity!
Perhaps the reason for my kids not identifying as adults is pretty much my fault! I cannot even hold Jim responsible for this one – other than he was not around to prevent me from over-parenting when I should have been developing their independence. There is a difference between obedience and responsibility. One is immediate and the other is a process that develops slowly over many years and requires patience and persistence. Before you go all crazy on me, I will clarify that for the most part my kids did learn responsibility and I do not own all of the problem. That would be overthinking the over-parenting issue! Classic move!
I had very obedient children for the most part; perhaps I should use the word compliant. They did what they were asked when they were growing up, which is a good thing, even though sometimes the response time lagged. But, unfortunately, I joined the many parents who did not always do an adequate job at teaching my kids a sense of responsibility. There were some things that they were responsible with (and still are), but they were so “busy” with sports, music and being smart (both are bright and gifted – an old family trait!) that I took on some of the responsibilities that belonged to them that I should not have. In doing so I robbed them of a lifelong skill set and delayed their adulting. For example, when they were “uber” busy I did not require them to do their chores, make their own lunch or pick up after themselves. Hence, I short circuited their ability to see beyond the moment and initiate things that needed to be done to help each other and demonstrate their love and support of each other.
In my defense, I was guilty trying to be a mom, who overcompensated for their dead father, and work full-time. I was too tired, too hurried or too impatient to focus on the process or skill. Instead I focused on the task just getting done. Having said my rant on my poor de-parenting skills I would add that another huge piece to this is that I loved being a mom. I loved being needed. I loved serving my kids. I wanted them to stay little. It goes way too fast. The tension is constant in giving roots and wings at the same time when all I wanted to give them was extra play time, snuggles and give us all sweet memories.