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November 29, 2021

Hey Christina, How do you avoid the tendency to “only be as happy as your happiest child”? How do you stay calm and steady when your adult children are struggling?

– Trying

Dear Trying,

Thank you for the question that speaks to parenting. Parenting is one of the hardest jobs going… it truly is. It is so challenging to see our children struggling when all we see is the goodness in them and the potential they embody.

I can’t help but feel that there is space to consider a tweak in perspective. Our happiness is not contingent on anyone else’s happiness. While this is a tall ask from a parent with a struggling child, it is our job, in my opinion, to show our kids that we’ve got this thing called life. That life will throw us curve balls and we will handle it; that we will have facedown moments and we will figure them out; that happiness is ultimately a decision. This role modelling of who we are will seep in their direction. So, first thing’s first… live your happy full life as very best as you can.

I don’t want to sound like I am downplaying this, because I know how challenging it can be to live a full happy life while having the weight of our child’s situation on our mind… at 12 p.m., at 3 a.m., first thing when we wake up. Here is where I think we can, and need to, call on trust. Trust that we have given our children enough so they can build upon this foundation. We need to trust that we created a bond with our children that results in them coming to us when life hands them a shit sandwich. Finally, trust that they too can figure out this thing called life.

Letting go of our children is challenging, but if we can look at it from the perspective of letting them experience life, as opposed to letting them go, could help. Nothing truly prepares us for the day they drive away for the first time, the day they decide to drop out of University, experience their first broken heart, or the emotional rollercoaster their early 20’s can bring. What we do know however, is how we parented, how we supported, how we taught and how we love them.

I can honestly say that I have had moments where I have held my hands in prayer and said out loud, “I hope I gave her enough to prepare her for the world”, and “I hope I taught him everything that he needs to achieve his dreams”. I think it’s safe to say that we likely did give them what they need to navigate life… and then some.

I would be remiss if I didn’t also touch on attachment. This goes back to my point about other people’s happiness being the guide for our own happiness. Yes, our struggling adult children can cause us sleepless nights, but I can’t help but feel that there are some rules we can put in place that can help us. Offering them tools and access to resources and having touch points with them so we can see that they are okay can help our own headspace. We unfortunately can’t force our children to perk up and get their shit together, but we can love them through it. Seeing our children for who they are and loving them through their dark times is really the best and all we can do. We all need to find our way, and for the most part we do… and our kids will too.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank anyone and everyone who has uttered the words,

“So I asked myself… what would Christina do?”

** This platform has been inspired by you! **

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