Our household ebbs and flows with the coming and going of our two grown sons. The nest is emptying. One son is in university and the oldest just graduated from college and returned home. On the most part, we manage this tidal flow well. However this time of life is a dance of emotions that requires management and most importantly the ability to let go. The surprising part is that most of the letting go needs to happen when the kids are home with us.
To Mother or Not to Mother:
Every time they return home our relationship needs to adjust from both sides. For the boys, they have been away enjoying newfound freedom. Returning home to the watchful, worried and doting eyes of Mom and Dad feels like regression from a life they can’t wait to jump-start.
As far as I am concerned, this takes conscious work in managing my motherly impulses to renegotiate the mother/son relationship.
Switching OFF Mommy:
Here is an example of when being Mommy wasn’t needed nor wanted:
Twenty one year old son cruises over the refrigerator, opens door, and stares blankly at its contents (something he has done since he could reach the door). Mom walks by and habitually rhymes off all that is available to him that he may miss. Son gives mom “the look.” Mom retreats away with her motherly “need to feed instinct” tucked between her legs.
Now, this seems so trivial I am sure you are wondering why I even bothered mentioning it. I am also confident that those of you out there with young adults at home can find a myriad of examples in the same realm as the one above. I sure can.
Mom, Leave Me Alone!:
These seemingly small intrusions add up and infuriate these newly indoctrinated adults. All they want to feel is trusted and capable. Each of these small incidents pulls at their deepest primal emotional memories of us; we control their lives. For them, that is the last thing they want as they are standing at the edge of the nest, flapping their wings and trying to fly away. This is why their reactions to issues that may seem small to us can be surprisingly stronger than we feel is warranted.
Although it can be difficult for us, especially when the issues are larger than the inventory of the household refrigerator, controlling your impulses to “mother” will truly get you to a better place in the renegotiation of this relationship. I have worked in the field of Emotional Intelligence training, assessment, and coaching. One of the competencies that can be the most difficult to develop is “Impulse Control.”
Quick Route to Impulse Control:
Try these six easy steps to manage your motherly impulses:
- Take Stock: Sit down and make a brief list of the incidents where you felt your child balk at you.
- Patterns: Look at the list and find the commonalities i.e. was it about curfew, money, dating, health, drinking?
- Triggers: These common threads will lead you directly to some of your emotional triggers.
BTW … One of mine is a well-nurtured and most likely DNA embedded need to feed (I am half Italian). I am constantly monitoring who is eating what, when, and how much. If you grew up in an alcoholic environment, your triggers will most likely include drinking.
- Stop: When you see an issue arising that includes one of your known triggers, STOP.
- Reset: Take a breath; think of someone you love or a happy moment in your life. Feel it.
- Engage: Now that you are managing yourself a little better you can more easily engage or disengage with your child with intention and empathy.
The competencies, concepts and skills to develop Emotional Intelligence are well explained in John Gottman’s Raising An Emotionally Intelligent Child and Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence amongst others. Managing our emotions brings the Law of Attraction into action by raising our vibrations and puts us squarely on the fast track to more joy!