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Miles to Go—Fair-to-Middlin’ Parenting


By Marianne Miles

I haven’t heard from Jon, our adult special needs son, in over a week. He’s a functioning adult, living on his own—kind of.

We expect him home, any time—or not. He could return with or without a job, car, friend, or plan to obtain any of the above. But, we’re here for him. That’s the kind of parents we are. Or, maybe better spoken, that’s the kind of nebulous place all we parents of adult, special needs kids hover.

We may have coddled these children when young, out of necessity, more than we have our other children. Now, as we continue to rise above the “normal” level parental involvement, we feel guilty, or as if we have failed in not teaching our children to become more independent.

Don’t you hate that word, “normal?”

Please! Someone define “normal” to me. I mean, define it in a way that applies to every parent in every situation. You just can’t. We parents, especially those of us with special needs kids, can pull out hair trying, or we can encourage each other with any good word.

I heard a report, recently, that might raise your own opinion of how you are doing as a parent. Perhaps this word will give you a break from beating yourself up.

It seems that children are marrying later—you knew that. However, the person observing this trend speculated that this is a return to previous norms. Also, compared to the last few hundred years in the US, it is a recent development (from the 1950’s until 2000) that people married younger, began careers sooner, bought a house, had kids, and made other major decisions sooner. Perhaps this was due to the rush of people to achieve stability after WWII? No one seems to know. However, the current trend of the last few decades, to wait for those developments, has been a return to a norm.

Included in the delayed developments of current young adults, has been the failure to launch, or to live longer at home with one’s parents. On one hand, this may just make sense while jobs are hard to find, but both parents and kids have been sheepish about admitting living in this kind of situation. A popular Hollywood comedy was even made about the subject. I have cringed, at times, when someone asked if Jon is living with us, because I feared their response, until I read this article.

The article pointed out that in this time of recession the reality of this need to consolidate households is great, and can be beneficial to both parents and adult child. And, interestingly enough, the current state of relationships between parents and child seem better than ever. The two parties are finding this arrangement not only doable, but desirable. The article’s author stated that parent/child relationships are better than they have been for many decades. That they enjoy each other, have common interests, and support each other in providing mutual needs.

I considered whether this is true for my husband and son and I? Yes! It is true. We all enjoy being together. Jon helps with tasks around the house that my husband and I are no longer able to manage. We provide counsel, items, and support in ways Jon could not provide right now for himself.

It came to me, if living together works for us, why are we shamed into feeling “less than” other families? Why do I fall an easy prey to feelings of guilt? Why do I torture myself with the idea that I could have been a better parent if______ (fill in the blank!)

Today, I accept my son for who he is. I also accept myself as a pretty good parent. But more important, is the conscious effort to accept whatever God may bring in my life as good enough.

So, let’s give each other, our kids, and ourselves, a break. And to God be the glory.

©2011 Marianne Miles. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

*Copyrighted back columns are available for reading in archives of Comfort Cafe. Contact Marianne for reprint availability.

Marianne Miles is a free lance writer intent on bringing comfort to mom’s of special needs kids. As she and her husband raised their children, including a son with special needs, Marianne developed a passion to support hurting mothers. Her message revolves around the love and provision of God, even in times of trial. Marianne has worked as a volunteer in the public schools, home school mom, and a teacher in a private school. She writes on the subjects of family and education in the form of devotionals, magazine articles, and poetry. Marianne welcomes reader’s comments and publisher’s questions at Marianne_Miles@yahoo.com.