Think about those times in your life when you have felt inspired to something really great. Where does that inspiration come from?
The Holy Spirit. God inspires us to do great things with our lives.
----Matthew Kelly

Welcome to The Not So Perfect Catholic!

Disclaimer: I am not a theologian, just a Catholic empty-nester trying to figure it all out. The views on this blog are my own.

Adult Parenting is a Lot Harder Than It Should Be

Image with quote from Charlotte Gray
Parenting is hard. Adult parenting is a lot harder than it should be! When I look at how my parents did it, it looks easy. They made it look easy. There had to have been times when they were worried about us but they didn't show it. Okay, they didn't show it much. I know there were times when they were hurt by our choices as adult children but they were wise enough to let us make those bad choices (which, in the grand scheme of things, weren't all that bad). Being the 8th child and the 6th girl, by the time I was an adult I think they had adult parenting down pretty well. They never sat me down and gave me lectures or advised me about the choices I had to make...unless I asked. I can't say if they did the same thing with my older siblings or not, but we all turned out pretty well; we are all responsible adults.

I am attempting to parent my adult children the same way. I would like to think that my husband and I gave them enough guidance when they were children, but I'm afraid we were lacking. It's too late to do anything about it now, and we're being forced to show some "tough love". It just breaks my heart. You want your children to have it better than you did, to not struggle with the same things you did. In doing so, sometimes we go overboard with trying to make it easier on them by giving in to their requests/demands. But at some point, it has to stop. They have to learn to live on their own without the support of their parents. It means some rocky times, some times of maybe not hearing from them. That results in requiring a lot of trust in God.
A few weeks ago, during daily Mass, my priest said that we say we trust in God and we give him that trust, but then we take it away. That really hit home for me in so many ways. I want to completely and totally trust in His plan for my boys and, being a control freak, it's so hard to give up that control and hand it to Him. He knows the mistakes my boys are going to make and how they are going to fix them. If He knows, why is it so hard to hand it all to Him? (Enter the control freak.)

After not hearing from one of my sons in a few days (after an abrupt ending to a text conversation) I was worried. I poured out my heart in front of Jesus in the Adoration Chapel. I had a good cry and called upon the Holy Trinity, Mary, St. Monica, St. Augustine, and St. Anne to please watch over my baby and guide him. I got up to turn on the light; when I did I saw The Divine Mercy picture in the back of the chapel.
Picture of Jesus as the Divine Mercy
I heard my heart say, "Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet". I didn't have my pamphlet with me, but, since I was in the Adoration Chapel, I knew there would be one on the bookshelf. There was, but it was in Spanish. There were cards there, so I grabbed one, went back to my seat (after turning on the light), pulled out my Rosary, and began. When I finished, I cried my heart out to Him more and spoke to Him...really spoke to Him. What a cleansing! When I got home I spoke to my husband about how I felt. He is usually more concerned than I am, and he didn't seem very concerned which eased my mind more. He is usually the one checking up on our sons and making sure everything seems to be going okay. My parents rarely contacted me unless they had a question about something. I hate to admit it, but there were times in my life when I would go weeks without calling them. My boys know where we are when they need us. They need to live their lives without having helicopter parents, and if I'm totally honest, it keeps me from being anxious and worried about them.

I'm not going to sugar-coat it: It's hard. It's hard to know what to say, when to say, and when to be quiet. It's hard to not give advice unless it's requested. With each of my 3 boys, adult parenting looks different. It looked different when they were growing up so I shouldn't be surprised that it looks different now that they are men. In the end, they are my babies regardless of how big they are or how old they are. I would take their pain rather than see them going through rough times. It just seems so much harder than it should be.

  • Are you getting close to having adult children? Are you already there? This article offers 3 ways we need to "let go" of our adult children. 
  • Maybe you're in a situation where you are estranged from an adult child. This post may give you some consolation.
  • If your child is entering the "independent" stage, here are some tips that may be of some assistance in learning to let go.
Quote on picture


  1. It is hard. I think the hardest part is missing them. But...since I've been a Christian (age 19), God reminds me every so often, that my relationship to Him is the most important love relationship. If course with our children growing up, these relationships CHANGE. I must keep seeking my Jesus, first and foremost, pursuing Him, and let the human relationships, steer their course. Thank you for your writing.

  2. As a step-mom of boys who were grown and are now in their 50s, I can't really speak to this. I can see how it would be difficult but can offer no advice. The book seems to be a good place to begin!

  3. Thanks for the links, Mary. I will definitely check them out. This little prayer was contained in an email I received from Devotionals Daily:
    I Will
    "I will do what is right and trust God for the outcome. I will not try to manipulate or control my situation. I will let God do His mighty work, and I will serve Him no matter what. He has said all will be right, and it will."

  4. Wonderful post! I have linked to this post in my post scheduled for tomorrow, I hope you don't mind. I have some moms who are struggling with just about everything with their adult kids. My post is about connecting with our adult children but they are also struggling with how to parent their adult kids.

  5. It is hard, often thankless, painful, and exhausting. Sometimes no matter what you do, it's not right with them. If you call, ask questions, visit, etc. on a regular basis you're being a helicopter mom. If you step back you don't care about them. I try to be balanced and not intrusive with them, but my bottom line is that I'm going to be who I am and true to God. I won't allow them to dictate the person they think I should be. Twice we've been estranged from our oldest, both times at his initiation and it included not being allowed to see our grandchildren. The first time it nearly destroyed me. The second time, he wanted me to apologize for something I did not do or I couldn't see the grandkids. I told him I was sorry he was upset, but that I didn't do what he was accusing me of and wouldn't apologize when I hadn't done it. I let him know that I loved him and that he was always welcome at home and wished him a Merry Christmas since I assumed he wouldn't be home for that (he did this 3 weeks before Christmas). That was the last we heard from him for 9 months...and then he needed something and the phone rang and he acted like nothing ever happened. I chose to show him grace. Unfortunately, our relationship has none of the closeness it had before his marriage, and we don't see his children very often. I've learned to be "ok" with it.

  6. I was just thinking about this today. My oldest is 14 and right now we're smack in the middle of training her with the habits we want her to develop for life. It's hard. She makes mistakes. But she's still a child and we can correct her, talk with her about it, and help her do better. I hope I'll be able to hold my tongue as an adult... and hopefully she'll make good choices for the most part, too.

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