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Lesson Learned: Support Your Child’s Parenting

Supporting your child’s parenting choices can be hard when you don’t agree. We have to remember there is more at stake.

While I was visiting my son’s family, my son proudly pointed out the schedule he’d created for his two preschool children. He had mapped out their daily routine on a whiteboard and mounted it on their dining room wall. Blocks of time for meals, play, reading, and rest were clearly and colorfully displayed. My son added stickers and pictures so his children could anticipate what was next, even without an adult’s assistance.

As I gazed at the board, my son asked, “What do you think, Mom?”

I could have offered a response he would have appreciated:

“I can see you really worked hard on that schedule.”

“Please make a daily schedule for me! Grandma needs it, too.”

But sadly, I didn’t say these things. Instead, I said something like this: “You know, your kids are too young for a schedule. They just need to play.”

My son’s expression registered disappointment and annoyance. I immediately realized my blunder. I had not only overstepped a boundary; I had missed an opportunity to express love and support for him as a father.

My criticism also revealed my need for control.

When my children were young, I set the bedtime schedule, arranged playdates, planned and prepared the meals and read to them. Everyone looked to me to plan the day. Now, my son had stepped up as a dad to help his wife by planning daily activities for their small children. But my “drill sergeant Mom” tendencies resurfaced with a knee-jerk reaction to anyone making a plan except me.

I apologized, and he forgave me, but I regretted not supporting his efforts as a father.

Learning to relate to our children as adults and parents can be challenging. It can also be tempting to critique their plans and efforts.

I often wish someone had shared this parenting advice with me:

• As your children grow, start letting go of the controls and allow them to make their own decisions.

• Relax and let your adult children implement their plans without critique or criticism.

• Look for opportunities to affirm and support your adult children.

One of the greatest rewards of having adult kids is watching them make healthy, life-giving decisions for their own families. Don’t miss out on opportunities to experience this joy!

Grace Assante loves stories of redemption. Her devotions and articles have appeared in various publications.

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