When our grown kids occasionally ask for my guidance, I feel a sense of responsibility that knots my stomach. I can share my experience with them. But I remind them that their own response is more appropriate than anything I’d share.
I’ll offer my opinion that nobody has the perfect answer, that it’s just choices made with the best information available at the time. I encourage them to trust themselves. Yes, you may accurately infer I’m trying to side-step the whole issue! Sometimes though, gulp, I’ll articulate the best my life experience has taught me and hope it’s both wise and transferable.
I dig deeply to guide them with wisdom. Broadening my perspective is helpful by seeing myself woven into the larger tapestry of caregivers everywhere, now and throughout history, simply offering the best of themselves. Like me, they love their kids and give their best when asked. But the more significant decisions need to be the individual’s own.
I’m discovering that wrestling with life’s knottier issues provides opportunities for our young adults to transform into fully self-reliant ones. I’m still there for them. But instead of offering my thoughts immediately, I ask them to explore and evaluate what works best for themselves. They can then make appropriate choices based on the person whose decisions matter most – theirs.
Interestingly this echoes the way I grow too, by looking inside myself and exploring what works best for my own life. Sometimes it requires reaching out for feedback when needed and accepting or disagreeing to see how well it fits. Often it requires learning by creating, anticipating or circumventing a gnarly knot or two. Patiently smoothing one tangle at a time, the appropriateness of most big decisions only becomes clear in retrospect no matter what anyone else thinks.