Later Stages of Parenting


cucumbersThe other day, a mother commented, “I have a son in his 40’s. There’s a lot of discussion about the stages of parenting up to college, but you never hear about the stages after. I find that there are a LOT of stages of parenting that come later — and they are important stages, really good stages, for the parent.”

I love this idea. Watching my parenting slowly shift from full focus on the child (infancy) -> expanding focus to  include parental needs/desires (middle school) -> focus on modeling what an adult looks like in the world, and switching from co-creator to guide (high school and beyond) inspires me to wonder: what next? What are those later stages? Have you felt them?

Lately, I have been watching myself as my kids left for college and I continue here on my own. The “Empty Nest Syndrome” is a topic for another blog post (or two or two hundred) and it has been quite an experience. One of the things I think about is how do I want to parent now? When my kids come back for vacation, what’s my role? What do I want my role to be? What kind of relationship do I want to create with my kids? If I don’t call them ‘kids,’ and ‘my young adults’ doesn’t sound right at all, I guess I get to call them by their names. I guess they aren’t ‘my kids’ anymore — they are themselves.