I have a full nest. My children are all single adults and fairly – am trying to be humble here – doing well. My 31 year old son, an Aspie (person with Asperger’s Syndrome, Google this please), takes short certificate courses, busies himself decorating and redecorating his room with corkboards filled with photos of anime characters he loved as a teen, and photos of him and Honey in radio stations around the country. My eldest daughter, 27, a marine conservationist, (shh, don’t tell her I still don’t understand what she’s doing) and is a consultant for marine protected areas. Youngest daughter is a 23 year old yoga instructor and recently got her training to get yet another certification, this time to teach yoga to children and families. She is also my writer, contributes to beauty blogs, etc. Like some millennials they can and mostly work from home, join me and Honey for breakfast, sometimes still in their PJs. They know there is always ready hot lunch, mid-day snack (merienda) and dinner, if they still like having the evening meal. I get a chance to date them one-on-one so that I keep up, not only on their lives but on their generation. I like it – I know the latest hits of Drake, Bruno Mars, etc. I just shout from my room, “Babe, how do I edit this picture?” or “Babe, how do I download this video?” and “Babe, I don’t know how to install the new ink cartridge in the printer!” And surely, one Babe will show up, sighing, “Google it, mom” or “Ok, let me show you but try it out yourself next time, ok?” Ha ha, but I love it! I love the full nest.
Of course, this is not for everyone. I have friends who can’t wait for their adult children to go out and “spread their wings,” they say. I have friends who have children who don’t live with them anymore, maybe because they are married already, or their jobs take them to another country, or maybe within the country but still far from home. And they love their empty nests too! Whichever works, yes? But this is for me, right now. And so, to enjoy this time of my life, and maybe for you out there who have single, adult children who still live with you, I have done a bit of research, talked to people in a similar situation and have come up with my
8 TIPS TO ENJOY A FULL NEST OF ADULTS
- ACCEPT. Repeat after me, “My children are now adults.” Accept the fact that they are now adults. And they WANT to feel “adult.” They struggle, experience the good and not-so-good, they have joys and hurts. Accept the fact that they have their own plans that do not include you. Accept, too, that they need their alone time and don’t have to talk to you all the time while they are at home. Accept the fact that they are making plans to move out and go on their own someday, but while this is not happening, accept and enjoy their company.
- HOUSE RULES. Everyone needs rules and structure in their lives. This brings about considerable order and hopefully some peace in a set-up where there are more than 2 adults in the house. Sit down with your Adult/s and go for a win-win arrangement. Sharing expenses? Or not? Sit down and talk about it. Talk to them as you wish to be talked to.
- LET THEM EXPERIENCE. Let them make their own decisions and figure out what works for them. Once upon a time, I would have said, “let them make their own mistakes.” But that is so last generation and now we know that in life, THERE ARE NO MISTAKES, ONLY LESSONS. The sooner you understand this as a parent, the less judgmental you will be and you will be able to communicate well with your adult children and have a good relationship.
- DO NOT STOP TELLING THEM STORIES OF YOUR LIVES, YOUR CHILDHOOD, YOUR PARENTS. Believe it or not, your adult children will begin to understand YOUR fears, YOUR quirks, YOUR dreams. Ignore the eye rolling if someone mumbles, “I know this story already, mom.” And please, never say “It was better during our time.” What – are they doomed to live this one out?
- LISTEN. Listen to their fears, their worries and their dreams. You just might be able the share a bit of your experiences. But don’t make it all about you. The word is LISTEN. They need you to hear them.
- RESPECT. Respect your adult children’s beliefs and opinions. This includes their choice in friends, lifestyle, the type of religious service, if so inclined and their political views. Yes, this can make everyone uncomfortable and defensive. But again, if you have established your HOUSE rules well and firmed up your Communication skills, you can, and will learn to live with each other’s differences, at least for now.
- SELF-CARE. You spent many years taking care of your children, and while you really should have done this for yourself at the same time, if you haven’t, do it now. Eat healthy and exercise (note to myself, ugh). Have more Me-time. Me-Time with a loved one, Me-time with friends. Travel, dine out more with your loved one who, hopefully, is also slowing down. My adult children love it when my Honey and I go out for drinks (even we have our own beer or wine at home) or when we dress up for dinner. When Mommy and Daddy are happy, the children, whatever age, are happy. Oh yes, you can choose to invite them when you have a night out, but they need to see that you are, indeed, separate from them now. And that’s ok. Also, nothing, absolutely nothing lowers blood pressure like having a good laugh with friends who you grew up with, reminiscing about teachers, other friends and even ex-boyfriends or ex-husbands! My daughters see the glow on my face whenever I come home from a get-together. They are learning the importance of years-long friendships. And finally,
- LET GO. One day soon, maybe later, it will be time for them to go off on their own in to the vast unknown. Enjoy the letting-go. Trust. Pray for them. Read on separation anxiety and make it easy on yourself.
And when that time comes, you know that you would have taught them, as best you could, how to be an adult among others. Mission accomplished.
*original painting by Carlie Dario