Creating adult-adult relationships with your children

  • I received a very late b’day card … Reasons I’m happy you were born, it read.  The sender is one of my children.  The 10 reasons written made me weep. I often receive other cards from my other child, post cards from travel destinations, thank you notes, etc. Both of these remarkable human beings treat me as a person separate and not simply their mother. They are 29 and 33 years old.

    I remember thinking when they were 17 and 21 that they might be two of the most interesting and fine humans I would ever meet (of course I am biased but it was also what I truly believed about them). I also thought I did not want to be stuck forever in the role of only “their mother” and never seen as a human who had passions beyond her children.  Full disclaimer:  that is exactly how I treated my parents, as if they existed only in the role of my mom and my dad. And I didn’t want that relationship with my own children. I suspect my parents wanted more with me too.  I wish I had known or paid attention.  Where was my curiosity about the two remarkable humans who loved and raised me?  It was missing.

    But unlike my parents, I am more demanding. I knew I wanted adult-adult relationships with my children. So when they turned 21 and 17, I began a journey to make sure that was a possibility for us. That journey was treating them like they could teach me things. Of course, I still had things to teach or share with them, but I found I was profoundly interested in the world they inhabited (in spite of my fears about it) and more importantly I was interested in them and how they were navigating said world.

    Fast Forward: I have ended up creating a bit of a niche in coaching Millennials mid and high level executives.  I really do love them!  AND since they (millennials in general, my children in particular) were little I always had a hunch they knew things…were plugged into something different and I wanted in on that stuff.  Today, I would say this is probably always true. I used to think it was just true about that generation. I was wrong. I find it equally true about the one coming behind them. Those kiddos in Florida from Marjory Stoneman Douglas, I would love to talk to them. I am fascinated by a young woman, Emma Gonzales, still in high school, who held an entire audience on a large stage in Washington DC for 6+ minutes in silence while she simply witnessed her own suffering and that of her peers. Who are these people? I don’t know but I want to…  and I hope you do too.  What if each generation that is born, along with it’s particular challenges also comes with particular gifts, well suited to help society navigate a particular part of the evolutionary journey toward wholeness?

    But even if this is not true, what if the secret to experiencing a sense of belonging with anyone and everyone …is recognizing that this person/generation in front of you has an experience you don’t know or maybe you can’t even understand BUT you might be able to  share. You could witness his or her story.  You can tell them you “see” them. They are real. Their experience is real.

    And that my friends is the difference.

    Those of you who know me, know that I don’t miss a chance to “teach” to educate. BUT I also don’t miss a chance to ask a “real question”. My question, is born of my own genuine curiosity. All I have to remember is to not ask it aggressively so it reads as “justify yourself” but instead reads as real curiosity. So it reads as “wonder.” My name is my reminder to Wonder … To Wonder what someone else knows, thinks, feels that I can’t imagine.

    And therein lies the difference between a life of tedium and decline and a life filled with wonder and awe.


    April 5th, 2019 | admin | Comments Off on Creating adult-adult relationships with your children | Tags: , , , ,

About Nancy


Nancy C. Wonders is an interior designer. The “interiors” she designs are psychological, not physical, space -- a client’s personal interior landscape, or the emotional barometer of a team, or an entire organization. Nancy’s office includes a “design bar” where clients have a chance to re-invent how they see themselves and/or their organizations. These re-structurings result in discovering what is fresh, new and alive. This discovery prompts profound, immediate change, on both the inside and in interactions with others. Read more»

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