Posted in Life in general

Adult Lessons

When you are kid, you imagine that being an adult is much easier than being a kid and it seems to be that way at least in the beginning.  Then, you start dealing with real adult issues like a career, money, major decisions, marriage, children, and health crises and you realize being an adult is hard work.  It makes you wish that adulthood was a childhood nightmare that you could wake up from.

In the last couple of years, my life has given me a variety of adult lessons and while I have had adult lessons in the past, they weren’t thrown in front of me all at once.  Growing up I never saw my parents’ adult problems because they did such a good job hiding them from us and while I appreciate that they did that, I wish that they hadn’t because they didn’t prepare us what adulthood was all about. Most of my childhood, I never saw my mother cry and I never saw my father show emotion until I was 17 years old when my 20 year old cousin passed away. My kids have seen me cry, they have seen me hurt and at my worst and I don’t know whether my parents were right for hiding adulthood from me or whether I am right for letting my children see it.

What I don’t remember about being a kid is how poor we were and I didn’t even realize that were poor until I was an adult because my parents hid it so well.  When I was 15, my dad became sick for the first time.  He died before I turned 19.  It was not until he was hospitalized in 1995 that I realized the extent of how sick he was.

My parents never let us see the tragedies of adulthood, only the triumphs.  Growing up, I lost grandparents, uncles, and cousins and my parents never let us see the hurt that consumed them with these loses.  When my father died, I knew loss for the first time and I was devastated.  It was as if a part of my heart was ripped out of me and I grieved for years, as did my siblings.

While I understand that my parents did everything they could to protect us, did they not really prepare us.  In my eyes, my father was as tough as they come, and my mother, she was as resilient as a woman could get.  In the days that I watched my father get sicker and sicker and my mother lose parts of her soul as days came and went, my world was shattered because I knew my parents weren’t tough or resilient because they were merely human. It makes me think about my health now, my brother’s recent cancer diagnosis, my struggles with my marriage, the financial issues my husband and I have dealt with for the last two years, my failed relationships with my brothers, the physical distance between my sisters and I, and my parenting as a whole. I wonder whether I am preparing them for adulthood by letting them see me when I am most vulnerable rather than hiding it as my parents did.

Do you prepare your kids or do you protect them?  That a dilemma that every parent has to face and it is another thing that makes being an adult so hard.


7 thoughts on “Adult Lessons

  1. I think, as parents, it is our instinct to protect our kids from ugliness. But, it certainly doesn’t teach them a thing about the “real world”, does it”? :/ The only thing that I hid from my son was the fighting with his dad. Not because we were pretending to be a perfect couple – but because I saw domestic abuse growing up and promised myself any kids I had would never have to see that.

  2. What a thought provoking question. Dee is so right–it’s our instinct as parents to protect our kiddos. I think it’s a delicate balance and it really depends on the subject matter–and the kids. I think it’s important for our children to see us handle hardships and trials if we are doing so in a “grown up” way because they will hopefully learn from us how to cope with difficult situations. I want my kids to know that life can be difficult and there will be trials, but not only do we choose how we respond, but we can grow as a person as a result of the experience. My kids are a part of my physical struggle. I ask them to pray about decisions I must make and the strength to trust God’s will. It has empowered them to feel like they have some sense of control over that which I have very little control over. It also helps to keep me accountable because every now and then I could certainly love to throw a giant pity party! I do try to provide a stable home environment for my boys though. Disagreements with my husband usually happen between closed doors. They went through enough hell with my ex. Kids need a certain sense of security I believe. This world has a lot more mine fields than when I was a kid. At least in my opinion. I think if we trust God’s leading and trust our maternal instincts, we’ll all make it out of this world ok. 🙂 You sure do have me thinking with this question. And from what you’ve shared, you certainly have a wealth of experience to draw from. Hope you are doing well today, Lana. Went to sleep praying for you last night.

  3. Dee and Kelli – Thank you for both for coming by and helping me to sort through this question.
    I think that most parents (the past generation) viewed parenting differently. As kids, we never knew if our parents had money problems, if they were upset by something, i.e. health, money, etc. or they expressed emotion at a death or sad news in front of us. Perhaps, that had to do with the times were in or maybe, in my case, because they were immigrants.
    I left my first husband because of domestic abuse so I do understand how important it is to protect our kids from these things. However, adulthood can be easier if we teach our kids that things like bad health, death, money and family struggles are normal part of adulthood. If we don’t shield them, we make it easier rather than letting them go into adulthood not prepared. However, if we do shield, they assume that adulthood is much easier than childhood.
    Again, I think that a generation gap area and our parents had a different perspective of children should now. For example, my mother would have never cried in front of us. When I found out the news about my brother’s diagnosis, I shared it with my ten year old, I cried and we prayed together. I want to prepare them but I don’t want to scare them. Another example, my mom hid the extent of my father’s health for four years and would ignore our questions and I have never done that to my kids. My kids, in particular my ten year old, understand more about RA and Fibro than my husband does. It leaves to question whether I make the right choices by letting them know that adulthood not only has triumphs but it also has trials.
    Thank you both for your kind words and your prayers.

  4. Great post Lana, I had not thought about it this way. My parents raised me identical to the way you were brought up. I never knew there were real everyday problems in life until I moved out.

    I can see myself doing the same thing, not realizing it. My daughter is very emotional, I don’t want her to be worried about me or my condition. I just always tell her I’m good.

    1. I do think that the way we think is generational and I also think that fathers are even guiltier when it comes to protecting their kids than mothers. I suppose that I am seeing this from a mother’s perspective and also from someone who can handle whole lot. I know with all of this crashing down all at once, I feel like I can’t really hide it even if I wanted to. My kids know their uncle is in the hospital and they understand that it is pretty bad because he is starting his third week in, and they know that I am sick because it is not always easy to hide it when I am hurting badly and feeling downright sick. I also wear my heart on my sleeve and I am a crier so I am not as good as I would like to be about hiding these things. I know there are a lot of things we can hide from them like finances but kids are pretty smart and my ten year old is as smart as a kid can get when it comes to these types of things. Sometimes, I feel like I am arguing with a teenager and not a ten year old and actually, it has been like that for several years now so I guess in some ways, it also depends on the kid.

  5. Such an interesting perspective!! Love your thoughts! My parents did not hide the financial problems AT ALL and I knew every bit of trouble we were in. It was rather stressful for me and sometimes I wished they’d hid it. Now, I don’t traumatize my kids but I do let them know money does not grow on trees and I cannot get them EVERYTHING.

    1. Rachel, I agree. Financial issues are not something that kids should now but they are more aware than we think. I think it is important that kids understand their financial situation in terms of what their parents can and cannot afford. My son got all A’s and B’s on his recent report card and told him that he could have something less than $50 for all his hard work. He didn’t argue and said that he would think about what was less than $50 and get back to me. My son understands what we can afford and has those expectations and that is a very good thing. Growing up, I never understood what we could or could not afford and it made me feel that my parents were just plain mean. Had I understand somewhat their financial situation, I would have not taken so much personally. I think that our kids have to understand that their parents work hard and where money goes and what they are entitled to and why.

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