Do I still parent my 18 year old?
My daughter’s 18th Birthday recently has had a big impact on me. I remember being extremely emotional on her first birthday, wondering where on Earth the time had gone & as we sat & enjoyed a ridiculously large cup of hot chocolate ( I have coffee of course) my daughters laughed hysterically at my ‘on this day’ Facebook posts, all pretty much saying the same thing. ” I can’t believe my baby is 1″ ” I can’t believe my baby is 5″ ” I can’t believe my baby is 8, 12, 16″ you get the picture.
I gathered some photos & made a collage, it’s not often I get the opportunity to get lost in time, but with each photo, I relived the memories. Cuddles,lullabies nappies & bath times, imaginative play, dressing up & ‘show time!’ The last few years have been drenched in turmoil, disruption & sadness. So much focus on divorce, relocation, my son’s autism, lack of housing, lack of money…constant drama. I feel she has lost a chunk of her childhood & I’ve lost time embracing her childhood. Focusing on present memories rather than the past is what we should be doing, but it’s difficult when the present is just so challenging, so sitting & looking at past memories & realising my baby is now an adult in her own right has hit me hard!
I haven’t cried, well not on the day, we did sit down & watch Call Me By Your Name (my son, who has a sleep disorder along with autism was asleep. In fact her birthday itself was governed by his sleep pattern. Luckily she’s no party animal & was happy with a low-key celebration) & cried bucketfuls! I think I was releasing some of my own pent up emotions in addition to the film storyline.
I’m lucky with Fern, she’s head strong, intelligent ( forensic criminology & psychology is her degree choice & hopeful career path) funny, grounded. She’s polite & well mannered & I don’t think I’ve ever had an argument with her. She’s respectful & doesn’t disappear keeping me worried. She’s been my rock since her Dad left & I know I’ve leaned on her far too much. She’s wonderful with her brother & helps me so much. I will miss her greatly when she goes to University.
She’s not flown the nest yet & there will be breaks in the academic year when she visits but there will be a huge gap in my life & a huge leap forward in hers. There are so many more memories to be made between now & then, I will cherish every moment & hope the chaotic life we have with her brother doesn’t fill her with desire to get away asap!
So, do I still ‘parent’ her? She is now an adult. She can:
Vote in local & general elections
Stand for election as MP, Councillor or Mayor
Serve on a jury
Make a will
Get married without parental permission
Carry a donor card, consent to her body being used for medical study
Buy cigarettes, alcohol, fireworks, porn!
Everything I can legally do…she can. No consent from me.
Do I still parent her? Will I still parent her? I do have a bit of a ‘well as long as you’re under my roof’ attitude, but it’s not really needed with Fern, she does everything with respect & courtesy. But I will continue to give guidance & advice. I often joke with all of my kids & say I’ve done everything there is to do, so you don’t have to! But I think my parenting an 18 year old test will come with my middle girl!
Turning 18 is a milestone & should definitely be celebrated, some go wild & party whilst some like a family dinner, however they choose to celebrate, keeping trust & an open heart & door will hopefully help to continue a fantastic relationship with your adult child. I know from experience that not having your parents around, because you wanted to get away from them is pretty lonely at times. My eyes & heart are open to making some radical but important changes in our little family. Life is far too short to waste anymore time not doing what you want with your own life & I’m so lucky that despite everything, I’ve raised a wonderful young woman.
A great source of information for you &/or your child, under or over 18 is Childline