Age Always Wins: Zero-Sum Game
I have two sons - age 38 and age 36. As I tell my friends: “Parenting is never over”. However, being a parent for adult children - is completely different than being a parent for young children. As a parent for young children - you have much more control. In that role, you are holding hands crossing streets - you are setting limits of time and activity, i.e., when to come home, when to do homework...etc. Being a parent for adult children - in some ways you are an ‘active observer’ of decisions and actions - it is definitely a transition - but ‘parenting is never over’.
I am blessed, I have a wonderful relationship with both of my sons. I feel they can talk with me - and I with them. Is it Fairyland - where everything is perfect? No. Yes, we can have exchanges and talks - but there are times we are hearing each other - but just not listening. I share with my kids, my belief: ‘being a parent of adult children is different from being a parent of young children - and that parenting is never over”. I tell them; ‘the way I see it - think of this image as an example. We are taking a walk in the woods on this path. I am walking ahead of you on this path. Not because I am taller, funnier...etc. I am walking ahead of you - because I have been on this path longer. As we are walking, I notice a low-lying branch hanging across the path. Wouldn’t you expect me to give you a heads-up about the low lying branch? You can decide whether or not you want to duck. But the expectation is that I would alert you - I would inform you - further evidence - I care about you and your welfare....but the decision is yours to make”. That is how - I view the role of parenting adult children.
But there is more to this relationship. Just like I witnessed and learned many things from my children when they were younger - those lessons continue on throughout life. I have had discussions with my kids individually - where they have provided me with words, insights and reflections that are thought provoking and surrounded with such clarity and wisdom. Both of my kids live in Manhattan - one on the Upper West Side and the other on the Lower East Side. One son, is an owner / contractor of a business that he has created. My other son - works in the start-up healthcare arena. Both of them have had different experiences and life paths. However, the common threads are: good people, driven, personable, goal-oriented and engaging.
In a conversation last week - with my youngest son - I asked him: “do you think you will ever get married?” (Both kids are single - successful and living in Manhattan. And let’s not forget - I am asking him that question from the perspective of my age cohort). He told me about a discussion he had with his older brother - about relationships and aging. He told me: “Dad, things are different today. It’s not the same as when you were our age. I see myself in a relationship and having kids - but marriage seems to be a changed institution. I know we are getting older - but it’s a different world today. He continued by saying: “you know, it seems that: ‘age always wins - it seems to be a zero-sum game - no matter what you do - you end up dying”. When he said these words - they resonated with me - loud and clear. It wasn’t about remorse or sadness that he was referencing this thought - it was reality: “Age Always Wins”. What a thought provoking statement!
So, here I am walking on this path in the woods - looking ahead - being on vigilance. Thinking that as a parent of adult children - it is my role to alert them to probable events ahead. When in fact, it is the voice, insight and actions of my adult children - with a sense of clarity and observation - that the lesson and message is delivered. Thanks guys, for continuing to raise me.