This post is made possible with support from AARP’s Disrupt Aging. All opinions are my own.
Aging. It’s something that many people fear. No one wants to think about getting older. This is especially true when it comes to aging as a parent.
When my husband and I met, we were in our early 20s and thirties. Parenting seemed easy as we built our family. Now that we are older, we view parenting from a different perspective.
Parenting while aging has certainly had its fair share of effects on my husband and I’s relationship. I think about parenting through the lens of aging now, and I oftentimes reflect on our nearly quarter of a century of parenting. Through the years, the world has changed dramatically, and raising children is not what it used to be. Yet through it all, our relationship has been solid.
I asked my husband to share his viewpoints with me on parenting and aging, and if he believes our relationship has changed because of it. I reflected on my own viewpoints, too! Here’s what we both had to say.
How has your relationship with each other and with your children evolved over time?
Spouse: I believe our relationship has evolved pretty good would each other since we’ve been together for over 25 years. And with our kids, it’s evolving every day. Age helps my wife and I learn more about each other and our children and how to deal with our children as they get older. Our relationship is more serious, and things need to be discussed a lot more. So, I believe we have a good relationship with our children.
Me: Oh Gosh — in SO many ways!!! With my spouse, I think that we have become more relaxed with each other. We both understand that marriage isn’t about the lovey-dovey moments you see on social media. Marriage is about everything that goes on behind the scenes. It’s about knowing that at the end of the day, we love each other, and we’re committed to being together for a lifetime.
With my kids, I have certainly become a much more relaxed parent. I now understand my place in their lives, which is to simply love and care for them, and nurture them until they are ready to strike out on they own. My job is not to live their lives for them, nor be held responsible for their life choices – they come from me, but they are not me. That’s the main lesson that I understand now as a parent that I didn’t comprehend back then. It’s a revelation that has made my parenting journey and my relationship with my kids much easier.
Knowing what you know now about parenting, what might you want to tell your younger selves? And what might you tell your future self?
Spouse: My younger self I would probably say that having children and raising children is a difficult task. And it gets more difficult as they get older. What I would probably tell my future self is always curse your children like your parents cursed you wait till you have kids and then you’ll see how crazy you driving us! lol
Me: To WAIT!! LOL — No, really: looking back from the beginning of my parenting journey up to now, I can clearly see that God blessed me with all my children at just the right times. However, things were tough because I was so young, and I didn’t have everything in place that was needed to support a family. I had to work three times as hard just for the bare necessities. It took a toll on my mental health and my confidence as a mom because while I was doing the best that I could, it never felt like it was enough.
Today, I see families with young children and they are so sound and so strong: mentally, emotionally, financially, etc. I wish that I would have been in that sort of place when I started my parenting journey. So, I would tell myself to be in a better place in every area of life in order to be much better-equipped to be a parent and raise a family.
As far as my future self, I would tell myself the same thing that I now tell myself every day: RELAX. The parenting journey definitely has its ups and downs. NO ONE is a perfect parent, and there is no such thing as a perfect family. Breathe, relax, and know that at the end of the day, everything will work out fine.
How can your children benefit from your life experience? What have you learned as you grow that you want to instill in your children?
Spouse: My kids can learn from my life experience things to do and things not to do. How to keep themselves safe and out of harm’s way. In this new world we live in where fewer people put value on life, something that would like to instill them it is to always have a great work ethic and a great sense of value for themselves.
Me: I always tell my kids, “I don’t want you to be like me — I want you to be better than me.” I say this to them because I literally took the rough road to adulthood: many of my choices early on weren’t the best ones. So, as I share my experiences with them, I also share the right ways to approach adulthood and aging. I want them to have that knowledge and also the understanding to be ultimately okay with any choices they make in their journey.
As I get older, I learn more and more about just how precious this gift of life is. I understand more how valuable time is, and that the clock doesn’t rewind. As I continue to learn to focus on those two bigger pictures of life and aging, I really try my best to maximize every moment, and put time with my husband and family above everything else. Losing my mother at 15 and my father only a few years ago taught me hard lessons in the fragility of life – how as much as we wish there were, when it comes to aging, there are no do-overs. This is the number one lesson that I hope to instill in my children.
What has surprised you about your relationship with your partner over time?
Spouse: I would say how much we are somewhat in sync with each other and can almost think just alike. And we support each other in life and in love, and in raising our children.
Me: What has surprised me the most about my relationship with my husband over time is the pace of our individual evolutions. Both of us started out as the same, with the same values, goals, and perspectives on life, marriage, and parenting. Over time, I’ve changed and adapted to newer and different views and processes in a number of areas much more than my husband has. My views of the world are different, whereas his is sort of the same. The good news is that we continue to work together to create a common ground for now distinctly-unique viewpoints for the sake of or marriage and our family. I believe we are able to do this so well because of the mutual respect, friendship, and love that is and always has been the foundation of our relationship.
How do you want your children to think about aging as they grow into adults?
Spouse: That getting older don’t just mean that you get free time and everything with getting older. That there’s a whole lot of responsibility that comes with that and you have to be ready to take on those responsibilities head on and be the best person you can at taking care of your responsibilities no matter what it is in life.
Me: That’s an interesting question, because my youngest daughter and I discuss aging all the time. She currently views aging as something bad; and believes that it will never happen to her. But I continue to share with her that aging is a beautiful process that is a blessing to experience.
This is the message that I most want all my kids to grow into adulthood with. That while the realization of aging can be scary, it can also be a beautiful process. To recount all the things that you witnessed your parents going through (and sometimes complaining about lol) regarding their bodies and changes that come with age — to now go through those same experiences yourself — is a journey that causes you to be grateful for every day, every year, every moment.
With our youngest child being only eleven years old, we still have a long way before we’re done with raising our children into adulthood. But with seven kids total all under the age of 30, we also have a long way to go in accompanying our kids in their life experiences as they grow older. It is my hope that my husband and I can continue to live, laugh, and love along our parenting journey while aging gracefully together as a couple. I wouldn’t want it any other way.
What are your thoughts about parenting and aging? How would you answer any of the questions above? Comment below or share your thoughts with me at: email@example.com.
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