They've graduated college, are living independently, may even have acquired a spouse--or spouse-to-be. If we are no longer the central player in their lives--and we're not or shouldn't be--then what is our role? Re-framing how we function as Mom or Dad is the ongoing challenge of parenting adult children. It's one many have tried to define.
Robin Marantz Henig, a science journalist and co-author, with her daughter Samantha Henig, of Twentysomething: Why Do Young Adults Seem Stuck?, has noted that "many Baby Boomers have adopted the role of concierge, and at a luxury hotel!" For herself, Henig tries "to think of myself as a consultant to my two daughters, but who knows—every now and then the concierge (aka Jewish mother) in me inevitably peeks out."
In her book, Linda Herman gives parents of grown children the "right"--or peace of mind--to let go. "Over the course of our children’s lives, we need to make the transition through the “three Cs of parenting," from choreographers to coaches on sidelines to consultants referred to for expert advice.
My own take is that we stumble and bumble our way from being the benign dictators that we were when we reared our young children to recognizing that, now that those kids are adults, we’ve been forced out of office. Finding a graceful way to come to grips with the coup d’etat may sound simple but is hard and harder to do as life's joys and blows come along.