No Regrets, Well Maybe a Few: Parents of Adult Children Share Their Advice

It’s easy to get caught up in the day to day chaos and adopt a “just getting through” coping approach to raising young children. However, a recent Reddit thread has opened a conversation that can help parents to slow down and reassess. Parents of grown children are sharing their biggest regrets now that their children have moved on to adulthood and their reflections can be good advice for those that may be making the same mistakes.

A common theme in the Reddit thread was time. Parents wished they had spent more time with their children and less time worrying about work, household responsibilities, and rigid rules. They reflected on the time that was lost worrying about what they now saw as insignificant factors, when they wished they could have enjoyed more time with their children whose childhood was fleeting.

While many parents have regrets, a dad of three sons told Fox News Digital, “A parent who has regrets is a parent who loves. Perhaps they see an adult child struggle in one specific area, and they wonder, ‘Was I a weak parent there — would things have been easier if I had done X, Y or Z?”

He added, “That said, we tend to blame ourselves and not congratulate ourselves. When your adult child has success or a deep sense of happiness, we should look at ourselves and say, ‘Maybe I had something to do with that.”

Hindsight is 20/20

While none of us can be perfect parents, we can learn from others reflections and perhaps avoid feeling the same regrets later in life. Mom and blogger Gabriela Garcia writes, “I don’t want to wish time away. I want to enjoy every moment of my children’s childhood. I want to fully embrace these years, the good and the bad, and look back without any regrets. Will I make mistakes? Of course! It’s only natural, but at least I can be fully present and learn from them.”

She interviewed some fellow parents and they offered the following advice:

  • Find a work-life balance that focuses on your children and family life
  • Don’t waste time worrying about perfect nutrition, schedules, or other parenting “how to’s” Know that you, your child, and your family are unique and there is no “one size fits all” approach to parenting.
  • Go out of your way to let your child know you love them, respect them, and enjoy spending time with them.

And Once They’re Grown…

What’s important is that we set a foundation of trust and love so that they can grow into self-sufficient and emotionally healthy adults. Once this happens, we need to transition to being parents of these adults. Psychologist Laurence Steinberg, author of the book,“You And Your Adult Child: How To Grow Together In Challenging Times.”  offers advice for how to do this. He advises that parents take a step back and, “…understand what it’s like to be a young adult today and to adjust their parenting accordingly.” BetterHelp therapy website provides advice on how to stop enabling grown children and why that is important to helping them growth and avoiding unhealthy dependency.

The childhood years fly by for most parents and the empty nest stage comes much more quickly than most of us are comfortable with. However, taking advice from those who’ve been through it and planning for the future ahead can ensure that we set a healthy foundation and hopefully have fewer regrets and more memories.

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