When you decide to take a trip down the road of parenthood, you receive wisdom, advice, stories, and tips on all the ins and outs of raising children. Some people say that boys begin life as challenging and become easier and girls are a piece of cake when they are little but look out once they hit puberty!
I recall spending the entire first year of my daughter’s life leaning down over her bassinet at night with my ear close to her, listening for the sound of her breath and keeping my watchful eye on her in search of the rise and fall of her chest, making sure she was still breathing. That first year was a challenge, I worried about SIDS and so many other things.
Looking back now, that was a walk in the park compared to the worries I feel now where my daughter is concerned. At 24 years old, she has the ability to keep me up night after night feeling worried for her. Where was the advice about this stage in life all of those years ago?
Quality Of Sleep Impacted By Parental Worry
In a recent study published in The Gerontologist, family gerontologist, Amber J. Seidel, Ph.D., from Penn State York in Pennsylvania, studied how intergenerational relationships – specifically parents worrying about their adult children – decreases sleep quality in husbands and wives. The study demonstrated that even when children left the family unit to lead their individual lives, the parents still were affected by stress and worry regarding their children, which impacted their quality of sleep. (1)
There are no words to describe the deep connection created when a mother carries her child in the womb for 9 months and then holds the newborn for the first time. As you raise your children, you go through all the anticipated events that give cause for worry: the scraped knees, the first broken bone, the first car accident, first dates, leaving for college, etc. I remember the anticipation of sending my daughter off to college, it started in her senior year of high school. I cried at everything, as I knew she would be leaving the “nest” soon. After my daughter moved to the college campus, I actually had to close the door to her bedroom, because looking at her empty bedroom made me sad.
Some of the most difficult times for me actually came when she was in college, spreading her wings. She stepped right into thinking that she knew best; while it was a difficult time, I received silence from her for a year, no texts, phone calls, emails or letters. Each week I would send a message telling her that I loved her and was there when she was ready to reconnect. The silence killed me inside, I lost many nights of sleep.
How do you cope? What do you do?
5 Tips For Thriving As A Parent Of An Adult Child
- Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff – It is natural to want to know what is happening in our childrens’ lives, even when they are grown. Realize that they are adults and learning their way just like you did when you were that age.
- Be Confident In Your Skills – If you are worried about them now as adults, it means that you were most likely concerned about them growing up. A great parent is conscious of setting a good example for their children. Be confident that they absorbed much of what you taught them.
- Allow Them To Make Mistakes – As much as we want our childrens’ lives to be perfect, they never are going to be. The biggest lessons in life come from making mistakes. Out of mistakes comes the potential for growth and the desire to continue to achieve.
- Failure Is Part Of Life – When it comes to our children, we don’t want to see them fail. Stop right there. Failure is not a bad thing. Failure is part of growth and learning. Failure is not a tombstone, but rather a stepping stone to success. Let your children fail to their success.
- Practice Setting Boundaries – Our children, whether they are still growing or mature adults, will always learn from the examples we set. Learn to set boundaries in your life for yourself and your children. Boundaries are healthy and a necessary part of creating responsibility in our lives.
Once a parent, always a parent. There will be situations in life that cause us to worry and lose sleep. When you are able to find the peace of mind in knowing that you raised a child that is responsible and ready for the curves that life throws at them, you will be able to get a bit more sleep at night.