Decisions, decisions, decisions; life seems to be filled with them; from the beginning of life until its end.
Throughout life we are faced with decisions and often those decisions are hard.
What do we want to do or feel called to do as a career?
Who will we date or go out with or do we even want to date?
Who will we marry or do we even want to get married?
Should we have children?
What schools or colleges should we apply to and what happens if we are not accepted; then what?
There is also the matter of children and parents; what are our expectations of each and how should we involve ourselves in their lives?
What about indifference between family members?
This is one subject counselors and psychologists deal with probably more than any other.
People literally hate being disliked, dishonored and disrespected and when it’s by one’s family member(s) it is even worse; it’s tough and there are no easy answers or remedies.
Once people are convinced they’re right and somebody else is wrong, it is difficult to change their minds; much less their attitude.
The most difficult of all relationships to change is when parents never develop respect for their children and children cease to respect their parents and it leads to long term and even permanent estrangement from each other.
What was once a loving, caring relationship can actually turn into bitterness and hate; loved ones often end up enemies for life.
From this counselor’s experience, anything can set such a scenario in motion.
It can be jealousy, envy, bitter disagreements over food, sports teams, the selling of a home, where an adult child chose to live or go to college.
It can also occur when adult children question their older parents thinking in matters of marriage, divorce, dating, re-marriage, retirement, where and when they choose to retire and even something as minor as how they dress.
The matter of older parents and adult children respecting one another and giving each other their respective space to live as they choose is important to both; very important and it often requires the hard choice of acceptance to make it all work.
The Bible reminds us to “raise up a child in the way he (or she) should go and when he (or she) is old, they will not depart from that way”. In other words parents should have enough faith that if they raised their children the best they could, they can relax and let that adult child make their own way.
Parents cannot live their adult children’s lives for them anymore than they can live the lives of their older parents.
Both parents and children have their own lives to live and each should and must respect the other.
Adult children must remember from a biblical perspective that the Bible says children should obey their parents and honor them all of their days that they might live long in the land.
It is not God’s intent that adult children should have to bow to their parent’s every wish but it does mean that they both listen and respect each others’ opinions and decisions.
Unfortunately very often the hard decisions each makes in life will push older parents and adult children apart rather than bring them closer together.
One example is divorce or death of an older parent.
In today’s society more and more older adults get divorced for purposes of financial security or a last shot at happiness they might feel they were denied by the previous spouse; as a result, the adult children don’t or refuse to understand and the older parent is often too proud to tell the children why they got the divorce.
The same is true when one parent dies and the other chooses to live with a new mate rather than marry that person; the adult children often see the situation as immoral when the parent is simply trying to survive financially and not lose pension or Social Security benefits while having a loving companion.
With people living longer today, older people simply decide to make the hard choice both to survive financially and spend their last days as happy and secure as possible; just letting things be is no longer an option.
Making hard decisions is never easy but decisions such as those discussed can be made much simpler if both the adult child and the older parent allow each the freedom to make personal choices without the proverbial fifty questions.
Life is far too short for families to carry hard feelings and live void and absent from the ones they love.
Jesus said, “eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die”, Luke 12:19/1 Corinthians 15:32 and He went on to tell us that He came so that we could have life to its’ maximum.
As a common adage of our time reminds us on bill boards across the country, "get over it" and another reads, "just let it go".
Both are good advice for adult children and older parents.
©Copyright 2014 Dr. Lee W. Outlaw III