I ran into an old friend yesterday. We were both in a rush, yet eager to catch up. We “hit the highpoints” of our lives, including those of our children’s. And then she relayed a brief story about one child, summing it up by saying, “Well, I made my choices and now she’s making hers.” I’ve thought about her brief sentence repeatedly and it all came into focus again while watching this morning’s ABC’s Morning News. The mother of Joran van der Sloot, the young man accused of murder in both Peru and Aruba, was there on national TV – apologizing for her son’s murderous behavior.
If you’re an After Fiftier with children, the chances that they are either young adults, or are rapidly approaching adulthood, is pretty good. And we may be tempted to bask in the glory of their successes or shrivel in the shade of their failures. Really, though, we have little rightful reason to do either. Yes, we will be “the parent” throughout their lives. But once our children reach adulthood, the newly anointed is singularly responsible for the choices he or she makes.
One of the most interesting aspects of being a parent of an adult child is transitioning into the background of their lives. Our new role might be entitled “Invisible Supporter-in-Chief” and we need to be prepared to stay in that background. And so, if Landon Donovan, who scored today’s saving US goal in the World Cup happens to be your son, you must be brimming with pride. But the real glory belongs to Landon. Meanwhile, Mrs. Van der Sloot, I hope you can learn to live with the knowledge that Joran’s horrific choices were his – all his.