Do your kids know you love them? Let me rephrase and get specific. Do your adult kids know you love them? From my experience and observations its not such an easy question. Coming through the turmoil that many teens put their parents and family through hard feelings are developed and those hard feelings can and sometimes do last a lifetime. Sadly, they usually extend from child to parent and not the other way around. I know there are exceptions. But I honestly can’t imagine a father’s love dissipating because of teen troubles.
These thoughts are on my mind today as my one and only son turns 20 years old. There are lots of milestone birthday’s but to me this is THE big one. Legally we all become adults at 18 years of age, and at 21 we are legally able to drink in most states. But at twenty you leave behind the teens, the label you’ve had stuck on you for seven years, and you become in the eyes of the world…not just the law…a real adult.
Coming just over 2 weeks from Christmas I’ve always felt my wife and I didn’t adequately recognize and celebrate my son’s birthday. I regret that. And this year is no different. My son has plans. He’s 20. Of course he does. And, of course, he will the rest of his life. Our time has past.
My initial question weighs on my mind. I can’t imagine that I’m the only parent who thinks about such things. Our oldest daughter is now 24. Her challenges as a teen were shocking and remarkable for her mother and I. We really were not prepared. We did the best we could but we felt derailed and couldn’t figure out why our perfect little girl had turned into such a handful. Then it was my son’s turn. Having been close at hand and witnessing the many challenges our daughter laid before us and the whole family I really couldn’t imagine our son wanting to go through and put us through such pain. But he did. And it was not good. The arguing, the yelling, the disappointments, the crushing disappointments. It was really heart breaking.
Obviously I’m not being specific. And you don’t need to imagine two awful little tyrants (either our kids, or us parents). It doesn’t matter. Because fortunately it’s behind us. My daughter lives away from us and while we can hardly say we like everything she does. It’s OK. It’s perfectly OK. It’s her life and my love for her is eternal. My son is still in our home and is still in need of Mom and Dad, or at least our home and food. And his current life is not completely as I’d want it but like our oldest, it’s OK. Isn’t it? Isn’t it the same with your adult kids?
I can say with complete and unwavering conviction I love my kids. I would die for them. I would give all that I own for them. And when we’re apart I miss them terribly. And I’m confident they love me. So my worries aren’t deep, but because of the troubles of the past AND my own feelings toward my own failed parents…some tiny doubt remains. And that tiny doubt sucks. Am I the only one? Tell me. Do the troubles of the teens carry into hard feelings for adult kids? What is your experience?
For me, I won’t be caught off guard if the troubles return. I’ll certainly handle them better…for I still have a 13 year old daughter who at present shows no sign of going through the challenges of her siblings. But its coming. And when it does I’ll be prepared. And I’ll love her too. For a father’s love is unbreakable.
Happy birthday to my beautiful and wonderful son.
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