Many of my friends have 'finished' rearing their families and the children have made it to adulthood- some thinking of having families of their own. Some taking off around the world on a voyage of discovery - experiencing both personal and geograhical discoveries and slowly realising where they 'fit' into the big picture of life. And then there are those in the throes of childrearing. Bringing up their children in the same but a slightly different kind of way. The same- they want the best for their child - different because they live in a different timeline with their young.
Sometimes I wonder whether any generation had it easier than another. My parents had their children ( my siblings) just post war in Europe. My parents were raised between the 2 wars. I raised my children between the 70's and mid 90's. One could almost say - the same but different, for each generation.
I know there are some things I 'borrowed' from my childhood. I also know I avoided some of them, not because I thought I knew better- but because I noticed too that times and opportunities had changed and so had society as a whole.
Children ( in general) lived closer to their parents. Immigration and job prospects, cars and better roads have led to a greater physical distance between many a parent and their offspring. Nipping in for a cuppa and a chat session hasn't disappeared but has evolved.
Advice, once freely given, now more often than not - not sought by parents but 'online' or with friends. And when a parent is approached - how do you respond? I know I find it difficult to asses at times. In my situation - I don't have physical contact in the sense of 'popping in' but communicate using modern technics. All a case of logistics.
There is a fine line between meddling, interfering and actually being able to 'give' the right advice.
That is my experience. When in conversation I try not to immediately formulate a response. Not only with my children but anyone who seeks to pour their heart out over an issue that concerns them.
Recently I had such an experience. A loving couple tried to persuade their son not to travel abroad. To wait until he had some more work experience, money saved, maybe go with a friend. All, in their eyes, valid arguments to reconsider his plan. They just found letting go so hard. When I mentioned that possibility to them - they looked surprised. It didn't occurred to them that their negative reactions were in fact a sign of their love for him and were scared about letting go.
Later that week I bumped into him at the local supermarket. Without the son knowing they had confided in me - He started telling me about his impending departure filling me in on all his travel plans. Then his smile faded and a frown appeared - " I feel so sad to hurt mum and dad", he said. "They just don't understand how important this is for me. I think they don't feel I am capable of looking after myself. I keep on getting all these negative messages and they don't get involved at all in the planning. They just don't approve."
I could have made all sorts of comments and pointing the son into a direction - similar to having made the comment to the parents- but I thought, let them nut it out at home amongst themselves. Maybe after a while his parents wil have a change of heart and be happy for him and his leap into independence.
I know from a personal point of view - that I am happy when my children are happy. No, I don't have to raise them' any more, maybe a nudge every now and then- which they are free to ignore should they so wish. Maybe after a while they may notice that the nudge wasn't such a bad thing after all - but it is their choice.
I try to avoid coming close to that fine line- but as many parents know- that isn't always easy!
Children = my children, their partners and grandchildren
You bring light into my life
Love into my world
and joy in my heart.