I recently was on a Viking European river cruise with my daughter, Erica. I'm a travel journalist and this was a work assignment for me. For Erica, it was a much needed holiday away from work and a mom's daily routine. Before we left I shared with her, "Please feel free to do what makes you happy. I love having you around, but if you choose to stay behind while I tour, go for it. You are obligation free." And that's how the week went, together sometimes, and apart for others. We shared a cabin and both agreed it was a lovely seven days in each other's company.
At one meal that week, a fellow passenger remarked, "You and your mother seem to have such a good relationship. Was it always like that?" Erica rolled her eyes and said, "Of course not. I was once a teenager, too." Then she went on to say, "She still sometimes treats me as if I'm 10 years old. But, now I don't get upset; I think to myself ... what will I be like when my kids are grown adults? I'll probably do the exact same thing."
I thought a good deal about Erica's remark. What had I said recently that would make her think she wasn't capable? I honestly couldn't think of a thing. I know there's the old adage that no matter how old your children are, you are always their mother and you always want to protect them. So yes, I admit to a little bit of that 'parental instinct' but not enough to make my daughter think that she's still a kid. And then, it hit me.
Your children will readily accept advice from their peers because that's just what it is: a helping hand from a pal. However, parents are not pals. They are the people who have protected you, taught you how to be in the world and then, if they are wise parents, they set you free to cope on your own. Children, no matter how old they are, want to know that their parents believe in their abilities, that they have your vote of confidence and that they no longer need to be parented (thank you very much).
So now I am extra mindful. You see, if I am travelling with a friend I can say to her, "Did you remember your gloves?" And she will say, "Thanks for reminding me. I left them behind yesterday." She appreciates my reminder. After all, I'm NOT her mother.
However, If I'm travelling with either of my daughters I will never say as I can innocently say to my peers, "Did you remember your hat?" Because ... you know what that will provoke, don't you? An eye roll and a "Mom, I'm not 10 years old!"
But we mothers have our ways. So, when your grown daughter says after 10 minutes outside, "Darn, it's cold! I should have worn a hat," you can casually reach into your bag and say, "Here; I have another one I always carry with me - it even matches your coat!"
Moms rule! (wink, wink)