The Surprising Parenting 'Fix' You Can Make For A Better Relationship With Older Kids

Photo: marian fil / 
mom and older teen son

When did we decide that we had to remake our child in our own image? 

It happens all the time. Whatever mistakes, mis-directions, or fears the parent holds is topmost in their mind while raising a child. Even when the child is a teenager, young adult or even fully grown.

The child, on the other hand, is subjected to a lot of fear-based logic, concern, and dialogue that may or may not have relevance to them. 

Sometimes the best thing you can do is let your older child have more freedom to develop who they are and who they are meant to be, keeping our opinions to ourselves. 

Here are a few examples to illustrate why.

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Two families, two stories of letting older children find their own way

1. Tom and Troy

Tom went to work early and as a young man he was promoted and rose successfully in his career in sales. Yet, he always felt that if he had some additional initials behind his name, as in a college degree, his assent would have been easier.  

Tom is a natural communicator, strategist, and has a knack relating to people. Therefore, he was blessed with assets that he had developed on his own. 

When his son decided to drop out of college after a couple of years because he was already finding success in a specialized career of his own choosing, Tom was upset.

Tom was concerned that should anything happen that moved Troy from his current position, he would need the credentials that a college degree indicated. Maybe this is true and maybe it isn’t. But, Troy wasn’t having it! 

Tom ultimately came to terms with his strong position on the matter because he knew that if he remained rigid, he would have lost his connection to his son. Tom was a smart guy who, even though he believed having a college degree was the surest way to success, let go because he had already disproved that theory, and his relationship to his son was his highest priority.  

Ultimately, he loved his son and wanted to honor his choices. He also understood that Troy could change his mind and return to college. So, he let go! As a result, their father-son relationship remains strong.

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2. Insurance salesman and son

Another example came from a story by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale. In his book he tells the story of a young man who was raised by a successful insurance salesman.  

The father wanted his son to experience as much success as he could provide, so he set him up in the insurance business — three times — and the son failed at the insurance business three times. 

As Peale counseled the young man, he noticed that he was intrigued as his hand stroked the texture and grain of the wooden table next to him. Dr. Peale asked him about his seeming appreciation of the wood table and the young man responded that he loved working with wood.  

He loved everything about wood, the texture, grain, even the smell, and loved working with it to create wood furniture. Dr. Peale suggested that working with wood might be a good career choice for the young man. His client responded happily to this suggestion.  

It seemed he just needed permission to pursue his passion. Which he did.  

As it turned out, the young man established a very successful business creating unique wood furniture that many considered works of art. 

Thus, we are placed with a dilemma as parents and that is that our children have their own desires, design and passions. Even though our highest urging is to protect and guide, sometimes it is the child who is the guide.  

Perhaps we don’t need to “fix” our children at all. We just need to pay attention and let them tell us what is right for them.  

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Jean Walters is an international best selling author and transformational coach specializing in metaphysics and spirtuality. She teaches ways to overcome obstacles, confront life challenges, and more through her wokrshops, books, and coaching services.