How To Stop Those Nagging Feelings of Mom Guilt With Teen and Adult Children Right Now
Hey Moms: if you have teen and/or adult-aged children, it’s time has come to stop Mom guilt. Now.
There is a radio show in my local area that features an advice segment on the air. Listeners are given the opportunity to write or email the show with life problems that they need advice for. The DJs read the letters on air, as well as posts the letters to the show’s social media pages for the audience to respond with their opinions and advice for the writer.
Sometimes the issues that are featured are health, career, relationship, or financial-based. However most of the letters are from parents of teens or young adult-aged children, seeking help on how to handle an issue with their kids. Everything from being disrespectful, to violating trust, to having a sassy mouth, to misbehaving at school, to constantly playing the victim and villanizing their parents, to secretly dating or being involved with the wrong crowd, acting out on the internet, and much more are all written about in these letters. These types of letters interest me the most because I have both teen and adult children, and I can certainly relate to the feelings that the parents are going through.
Once the letters are posted online, I like to read the responses from the show’s listeners. Some replies give good, sound advice. Others offer a different perspective and alternative, non-traditional ways to deal with family problems. However, there are some who reply simply to scold the parent and make them seem to be the bad guy. These are the responses that push my buttons.
“If your teenager / adult child is doing that (insert issue here), then you must not have raised them right.”
“Shame on you. It just goes to show that your kid has no home training.”
“It starts at home. You obviously dropped the ball somewhere.”
Whoa Whoa Whoa – wait just one minute!!! (!!!)
When kids are young (let’s say under the age of 13), I can totally see these statements having some merit. Parents have a little more control over their child’s environment, friends, experiences, influences, behaviors, and choices when they are young. They even have more control over their outward appearance, such as clothing and hairstyles.
However, as kids grow into the late teen and adult phases of life, those ‘controls’ shift from parent to child. With everything that goes on from day to day (high school, college, social media, sports, extra-curricular activities, being away from home, around the house, etc.) there is absolutely no possible that parents can ~always~ know what their child is up to, is watching or reading, is listening to; or who they are hanging around with, texting, or talking to (online and offline) during every single waking moment of the day. It’s just not happening.
Additionally, no matter how “great” of an upbringing they’ve had, no matter how much parents set rules and standards, and strive to teach their kids right from wrong; no matter the type of house or neighborhood they grow up in or the school they attend, no matter how much time, energy and money is invested into them, no matter how many sacrifices are made for them, no matter how many ‘positive role models’ they’ve been afforded to be around or ‘wise counsel’ they’ve been fortunate to receive, at the end of the day, teen and adult children have their own minds. And they will make their own choices.
Mommy and Daddy could have done and said everything right, the ‘village’ could have been in place—everything. But once kids hit the teen and adult stage of life, one of their ‘choices’ could be to behave the exact opposite of how they were raised. And that choice of theirs has no bearing or reflection on the parent whatsoever.
Let me say that again: None.
Simply put, teen and young adult-aged children are going to do what they want to do. Period. Parents can only guard and guide so much. Nevertheless, Moms tend to hold themselves more accountable. Moms will repeatedly tell themselves that everything is all their fault. This mentality is not only incorrect, it is also unfair and unhealthy. Such feelings can wreak havoc on a Mom’s mental, emotional, and even spiritual wellbeing. This is why Mom guilt needs to stop.
Right now you may be thinking: “Annnnnd………………….what makes you so sure Ms. Smarty-Pants?? How do you know??”
I’m glad you asked! 😉
I have a 25 year-old daughter and a 22 year-old son. Additionally, I have a 17 year-old daughter, and a son who will officially be a teenager next year. Needless to say, I’ve had my far more than my fair share of personal experience in this area of parenting. So much so that I am still working to put an end to my own Mom guilt.
I also have friends and family members who I’ve closely observed through many years as they raised their children in teen and adult stages. Thanks to the power of social media, I even see a host of celebrities go through the same thing with their teenagers and adult children as well. The answer is the same across the board: some teen and adult children will stay in-line with how they were raised and follow their parents’ guidance; some will not.
I remember one Christmas Day some years ago spending the day with my Dad. It was last Christmas we would spend together before he passed away in April of the following year. All of my children were with me, and I was going through some rough times in the ‘teenage and young adult parenting’ area. I was worn out, worried, and stressed; asking myself over and over again where I had gone wrong as a parent.
In ‘parental distress,’ I laid my head on my Dad and began to pour out everything that his teen grandchildren were doing, everything that I was going through, and every emotion that I was feeling about myself as a Mom. As I began to fight back tears, I told him that I needed his advice. He looked at me with those old, wise eyes of his and said this:
“Listen little girl. You did fine. Those kids are getting older now so they’re gonna make their own choices. You gotta let that guilt go. Some kids get out there, fall on their (behind), and then they get that they made a mistake. Some kids live their whole lives and they NEVER get it. But don’t let that worry you—that ain’t got nothing to do with you. You raised them right. As long as you know you did the best you could do and you raised them right, then you’re alright. Let that guilt go little girl.”
And you know what: he was absolutely right. 🙂
Sooooooo…………………………………………What am I saying??
This is to all of the parents out there—especially the Moms—with teen and/or adult-aged children: take my Dad’s advice and stop Mom guilt! Believe me when I tell you that parenting does not get any easier as kids get older.
That being said, never let anyone try to shame you or make you feel that you ‘failed’ as a parent – not even your own kids or other family members. Never for one moment believe that you are to blame for your adult child making some mistakes or unhealthy choices; or consistently behaving in a way that could adversely impact their future.
If you did the very best that you knew how to do to raise them properly (noticed that I said, ‘the best that you knew how to do,’ because all Moms make mistakes and no Mom on earth is perfect), don’t you dare walk around feeling embarrassed, guilty, or like a failure!
It is not your fault. It is their choice.
Instead of being
unnecessarily hard on yourself, be encouraged, and ask God to help you break free from the chains of Mom guilt. Immerse yourself in positive activities to release the emotions you are feeling in a healthy way. Keep your heart and mind focused on God and the bigger picture – the blessing of Motherhood, continuing to love your children unconditionally.
Try to guide them back to the right path if you can, but if you can’t or if they reject your efforts, let it be and move on. A quote from the classic 90s film ‘Jason’s Lyric‘ says it best, “You can’t save someone that doesn’t want to be saved.” In other words, you can’t get someone to see the light if their preference is to stay in the dark. Always bear in mind that the direction your teen/adult children chooses to take in life is ultimately up to them. And whatever consequences that happen as a result of their choices — no matter how dire — are theirs alone to live with.
Finally, just like the parents who wrote into the radio show, seek counsel and support from other parents who have been down the road you’re on when there is a situation happening with your teen or adult child that you need help with handling. Remember: in parenting, the only failure comes in not having done anything at all ~ there is absolutely no failure in having done your best.t
Stop Mom Guilt
Do you have teen and/or adult children? What are some of the experiences you’ve had in raising them? Has someone (even your own kids) ever tried to make you feel guilty as a parent about something your teen/adult child had done? What do you do to stop Mom guilt with your teen/adult children? Share with me below.