If you consider yourself an independent adult, then consider telling your parents that their job is done.
This doesn’t mean that you can never ask them for anything again.
This is just a message of gratitude that parents rarely hear.
What would it mean to your parent to know that their job of raising you is complete?
Let’s start by acknowledging the long marathon that is parenting.
“In 1800 the health conditions of our ancestors were such that 43% of the world’s newborns died before their 5th birthday.” (Our World in Data)
When I play with my baby niece and nephew, it always occurs to me how fragile child rearing is. Thank goodness child mortality worldwide has dramatically decreased. But raising a child is still no joke.
One small wrong move in parenting can be catastrophic.
- Don’t drop the baby
- Keeping your child on vaccination schedule.
- Making sure your kid didn’t swallow something.
Millions of tiny, orchestrated movements to make sure babies are alive.
And they barely remember it. Ungrateful souls.
Parents could do all the right things while their child remembers nothing. And yet…children can start resenting them once they start remembering.
In my Landmark Forum, we were encouraged to think of our parents when they’re just starting out. Seeing that they’re might have been young and anxious was an exercise in empathy. Heck, they might have done a better job than I can imagine doing now!
I grew up without a father, so this one goes double for Ma. You ready?
Thank you for giving birth to me. Thank you for raising me as a child and keeping me safe all those years, including the years I don’t remember.
Now that I’m an adult, I want you to know that your job as a parent is complete.
If you’ve ever had doubts about parenting or whether you made mistakes, rest assured I know you did the best job you could.
If there’s any burden you’re still carrying about how you raised me – I want you to now that you don’t have to worry any more.
You can let all of that go because you’ve raised me and now I’ve grown up. I’m making my way through the world. And I love my life.
Thank you. I love you.
The power of acknowledgement
From birth, the default model of the relationship is caretaker and child.
Yet, children hold an odd kind of power over their parents.
Parents may always think of themselves in caretaker mode. After all, it’s what society tells them what they’re supposed to do, right? There’s a “right” way to parent, and everybody else always has an opinion of how parents can parent better. It’s can become a job of perfectionism that never ends.
And even if they feel that their children appreciate them, there is power in making the implicit, explicit.
Imagine what it’s like for your parents to hear that their job is done.
Relief? Pride? Happiness? A sense of completion?
Maybe all of the above. Maybe they’ll first look at you dumbfounded or say “Oh please, that’s what I’m supposed to do. I’m your Mom.”
But it will impact them positively.
I guarantee you.
That’s the power of acknowledgement.
What’s left once a parent’s job is done?
Now that their job is complete, the relationship can expand.
- Can your mother be your best friend?
- Can your father be your new favorite camping buddy?
- Can your parents be an advisor?
Or maybe you don’t want to be that close to them. That’s fine. They can just be real human beings who gave birth to you.
Not just parents who’s jobs aren’t done.
Tell new parents that they’re doing a great job. They need to hear this!
What if my parent was a shithead? What if you have past trauma?
I’m sorry. There are things that might have happened to you, that shouldn’t have happened to you.
I’m not a psychiatrist. Just consider that this is an exercise in personal responsibility and acknowledgement – it doesn’t have to mean more than that.