It's Thanksgiving week here in the U.S., and both my daughter and son are here for the whole week. Some of you are sharing this phase with me. Your kids are back in your house, and you couldn't be happier.
Until they go out with their high school friends on the night you had planned a nice dinner, that is. Or until they talk about wanting to change their major, extending their time in college for a year. Or until they mention how much their college city feels more and more like "home."
Two of those happened to Jenny and me this weekend. And...it's okay. The launching phase is supposed to be bittersweet, like any transition in life.
Here's the best way I know to adjust to such changes: Adjust your language first, and your feelings and actions will change.
For instance, let's examine the phrase, "my kids are back home for the holidays!"
"My": Do they really belong to me? "kids": Are they really still "kids"? "home": At what point will their "home" be wherever they currently nest & rest, not where they used to?
I know this is a bit controversial. Some of you would argue it's always important to welcome "your" "kids" into their childhood "home", giving them a safe connection to their family and their childhood.
My question is this: Until when? At what point is their home theirs? At what point do they belong to themselves? At what point are they no longer considered "children"?
I know, I know...semantics. Right? Not for me. If what I want most is for my daughter and son to each have thriving adult lives, full of daring aspirations and mature responsibility, then my language matters.