Parent is Also a Verb 3/14/23

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Parent is a verb – until it’s not. At some point, the light turns red. Stop. Your job is done whether it feels like it or not, whether or not the results meet your expectations.

Over the teen years, the parenting light should turn yellow. Our sons and daughters should be gaining independence all their lives by making choices, creating space between themselves and parents, and finding out about their own identities. This can be a gradual separation, long before the light turns red or slamming on the brakes when the “child” turns 18 and begins making choices over which you have no legal control.

This is not to say all parenting screeches to a halt on the day the kid turns 18. I am saying that having reached the magical age of 18, that kid decides when your influence comes to an end. As painful as it may be to birth a new life into your family, it can be equally as difficult to let that life go out on its own.

Both of my sons lived with and relied on us past their 18th birthday. I did hear through them that some of their friends were told by parents that they had to move out as soon as they turned 18. My guys went to college and worked while living at home. Each of them have used poor judgment but one son has made riskier choices and the consequences have slowed down his forward motion.

When a medical or legal issue comes up, a clarity comes as a parent lives through not being able to make those choices for an adult child and not even being able to sway them to your way of thinking. You’ve had this weighty responsibility on your shoulders for at least 18 years but here you are now; not only has that weight been lifted, it’s been taken away from you.

The job of parent has an end date. The goal of the job is to end it. Your emotions will never end and you may well parent as a verb, only when asked hopefully, providing support during stressful times, but there are also seasons of life when loving an adult daughter or son is stepping back.

This is where I find myself. I know from my education and experience that the best thing I can do for my adult son, as he negotiates life, is to listen. I want to hear what he’s thinking. So, I’m not going to judge, demean, or try to argue him out of his decisions. We have good discussions so I will question and listen more than I talk. Instead of telling him what’s wrong with his plan, I ask him questions about his ideas so he is in a position to explain and defend. Continued questioning will lead him to look at what he’s doing. He may hear himself say something he hadn’t thought before or seeds may be planted that produce in the future. It may not move the needle presently but this is a much more effective way of having a healthy discussion with an adult than reverting to strategies from years ago. You’re more likely to maintain your relationship and obtain information by respectful questioning versus telling/lecturing/haranguing.

Lessons might have to be learned the hard way, and here I’m talking about my husband and I figuring out how to approach or react to situations wherein we may feel disappointed, sad, angry, confused, and/or helpless regarding the direction an adult son is choosing. I’ll express my thoughts and emotions if they’re welcomed into the discussion and, for sure later on my own. For us, we won’t provide any money or co-sign for anything, but they always have a soft place to land.

Have I disagreed with choices made by my sons? Indeed. Do their decisions increase in impact and consequence? Oh, yes, they do. I’m going to love, emotionally support, and listen to my adult children, emphasis on adult.

The Socratic Method

The Socratic Method, as outlined in Plato’s Thaeatetus, is a process of questioning that inspires critical thinking. Primarily the method was designed for moral and philosophical enquiry but the technique has been used in many other fields. The strength of the Socratic approach lies in its ability to challenge assumptions and negative thought patterns.

The heart of the Socratic teaching method is asking questions. Commonly described as a dialogue between student and teacher, the Socratic Method starts with provocative questions from the teacher. Students engage not just by answering those questions but by asking questions of their own. Resilient Educator

Sara’s education and experience: B.A. Ed; M.S. Counseling; teacher grades K & 2/3, educator for childcare providers, training in Positive Discipline and Growing, parent educator, program director of crisis nursery, including parent support, staff management & training, stay home mom 16 years with two sons born 19 months apart, medical transcription for 10 years in order to stay home, substitute teacher grades K through 12. Blogs about a wide variety of topics on

Published by Sara Z

Writing is one of my passions. Most blog entries are relatively short articles regarding a wide variety of topics. I'm a middle-aged wife and mother of two adult sons. I've been a teacher, counselor, medical transcriptionist, student teacher supervisor, substitute teacher and retail clerk. Staying home now due to fibromyalgia. Seeking purpose.

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