The Stages, Phases and Grief of Parenting
The transition into parenthood and the stages along the way are broadly acknowledged. We have countless books, parenting courses and far too many opinion-giving people on the streets. But what about the transition into parenting an adult? Even after years of working in parent education and family therapy, it never occurred to me the monumental shift that would occur when my child became an adult. And I haven’t seen many books on this. Why?
While this journey is behind me now, at least for one child, I’m realising that I am not alone, hearing many parents tell me that they feel disconnected from their adult child/ren in ways they do not know how to resolve. I am so grateful that I too have lived this feeling, so I can support them to understand the rupture and repair process that is essential at this phase. That in order to form a new adult-adult relationship we first have to live through the severing of our parent-child relationship. And this can be an uncomfortable phase.
It’s funny though how I don’t recall this even being a thing when I was 18. I moved away and visited with my parents regularly. It never occurred to me that this might have been a difficult transition for my parents. Or perhaps it was easier for them because I physically moved away. Yet my own daughter lives at home and has disconnected somewhat from us as a family unit and me as her mother.
This took many difficult conversations, many tears and an acknowledgement that there is a level of grief connected to this transition. Planning holidays without her, her partial involvement in Christmas events, not controlling her diet and health, not being able to just know that she’d be here. That’s a lot to process after 18 years. And yet also knowing that this was exactly how it is meant to be, and that in time we would find a new relationship as two adults with a long history of love and connection.
So having come through this I now understand it, but still I think that the lack of advice at this stage is strange, given the avalanche of wisdom in the early years.
I would love to hear your stories- please share in comments ♡