Not As Orphans
Here is one of my favorite definitions of an “adult”:
“An adult is his or her own mother or father.”
You can find this thought from a few different sources, but here is the gist of the idea.
Hopefully, when you are little child you have a “good enough parent” who does things like:
Ensures that you eat your vegetables.
Tells you that it is bedtime…and firmly, lovingly enforces it.
Says to you…go outside…get some sunshine!
Schedules and takes you to your doctor and dentist appointments.
Makes sure you are part of some faith community.
Helps you make decisions about getting involved in extracurricular activities…and helps you follow through appropriately.
Schedules “play dates” when you are young or some other way to learn social skills.
Help you learn to make priorities with your time by making sure you get your homework done and assigning some chores.
Sits down with you when you are sad, angry, or happy…and listen.
These are pretty much basic aspects of parenting. I am sure you could come up with other items for the list.
So, the idea of being “your own mom or dad” is that as an adult we do these things for ourselves.
No longer do mom and dad tell you to eat your vegetables.
No longer do mom and dad tell you it is bedtime.
No longer do mom and dad say to you…go outside…get some sunshine!
No longer do mom and dad schedule and take you to your appointments.
No longer do mom and dad make sure are part of some faith community.
No longer do mom and dad help you make decisions about getting involved in extracurricular activities…and help you follow through appropriately.
No longer do mom and dad help you develop friendships and build relationships.
No longer do mom and dad help you learn to make priorities with your time by making sure you got your work done and paying attention to housework.
No longer do mom and dad sit down and make room for when you when you are sad, angry, or happy.
You get the idea.
At least, that is the hope for every healthy adult.
I am guessing you can look down that list and whether it is putting yourself to bed, getting sunshine, or giving yourself room to be sad or angry, you can find some area in which you don’t exactly “parent” yourself incredibly well…perhaps not even “good enough”.
We learn to parent ourselves from our own parents and other influential adults in our lives. However, NONE of us had perfect parents. NONE of us. Neither did we grow up in perfect communities.
So, whether they are habits we picked up through life or behaviors we picked up from adults in our lives, we all have areas in which we need to grow…areas in which we need to better parents ourselves
Too often we forget this role of being an adult. We are still waiting for someone else to put us to bed, to schedule and take us to appointments, to tell us it is ok to cry.
We live more as a survivor rather than a thriver…letting life live us rather than us living life. We run around just making it and fail to realize that the only person who can make any of the changes to make our life more manageable…
We complain about how much we HAVE to do.
We forget that like a loving and firm mom or dad we need to tell ourselves: “stop”. You don’t HAVE to do anything. Go outside and get some sunshine.
Of course, we all need help and none of us can make it on our own, but when it gets really dangerous is when we find someone who WILL keep doing it…when we find a friend or spouse who is only too happy to have the identity as our caretaker…our savior…tell us it is time to go to bed…time to schedule our dental appointments…or does it for us!
And, guess what. Your kids are watching you. They are learning how to be an “adult” from you and not just by what you tell them. They are learning how to say “no”, how to say “yes”, how to slow down, how to work hard, how to put a hold on things to go outside and take a deep breath.
Or, they are learning how to live in constant chaos, how to go, go, go without ever stopping…how to wait and let someone else do it for them….for someone else to say “stop”.
Some people come from homes where the parenting did not even come close to “good enough”. There was abuse and all kinds of neglect.
Whether our parents were “good enough”, absent, or abusive…it can seem overwhelming to think of adulthood in this way.
It can also be empowering.
We CAN parent ourselves.
None of us had perfect parents on earth, but we all have a perfect heavenly Parent. He CAN help us pick up where our earthly parents left off.
Jesus said in John 14:18: “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”
In our frailties and faults, the Holy Spirit gathers (Matthew 23:37) and guides. He works on us as a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).
He does not leave us as orphans.
The Holy Spirit picks up where our parents left off and helps us learn to parent ourselves as empowered, responsible adults who are now parents to our own children…even as He parents us.
I have my areas I need to grow in…areas I need to parent myself better…areas I still probably wait for someone else to step in. I am working on this. In fact, I am telling myself right now: “It is bedtime, Emily.”
We all have areas in which we need to better parents ourselves. What are yours?