Today I Learn… I make a point of learning something new everyday. This is what I learn each day

1, Nov 20, 2009

Treating Adult Children as Adults

Filed under: children — admin @ 12:54 am

On 11/16, this Monday evening, I talked to a relative of mine over the Skype, whose son is currently in the US. To be sure, she is greatly concerned over her adult child. “I am determined not to support him any more after his graduation,” said she. She further asked me what I thought of it. I told her, “Well, it is not proper for me to say anything to him since he is a 26-year-old adult.”

“Say it to him. Say whatever you want to say to him. Don’t be afraid. You should give him a lesson. He doesn’t listen to me, but he will listen to you.” Quickly came her encouragement. She thought I would not say anything because he was not my child. She missed my point by a wide margin. Even if I am his senior, he is not a child and we are equal in this sense. To be sure, he is not far from being 30, I need to respect him and should not volunteer my advice as if he were a little kid willingly accepting lectures from adults. We parents should have left him alone even after his college graduation.

My relative’s attitude reminds me of my experience with my parents after I reached adulthood. I don’t want to play that role myself. I remember clearly how resentful I was when my parents lectured me and still treated me as less-than-adult even in my early 20s. Not until I left for America did I finally enjoy freedom from parental lectures and supervision, though most of them were given out of their loving hearts. Out of respect for them, I often just listened and made no comments. Outside home, I enjoyed conversations with other adults who treated me as equal. A friend of mine here told me how unpleasant she felt when her parents continued talking down to her like she were a child each time she went back to China. For this reason, she doesn’t want to go back to her parents.

From my own experience, I believe strongly in treating adult children as equal, with due respect and trust them, letting them make their own decisions and go on their own life’s journey. Trust me they will respect you more because of this.

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