A role of a parent never ends, even after the kids turn into adults and have children of their own. It may be hard to imagine this now.  You are probably learning to change diapers while preparing the formula or you have moved into toddler territory or if you and your teen are still battling out curfew hours and choices in their wardrobe.  But soon, there will come a day when your child has left the nest egg and will return as the adult. This is the start of a new and fruitful relation, one that can be the best in your life. This topic explores how a parent can eventually become their child’s guide or mentor, someone they can always depend upon or look up to no matter where they are and what their status is in life. 

  • How to build the relationship – this is the easy stage and gives you a chance to explore not only what your child needs but also a chance to share your childhood, hopes, and fears. As the child steps outside the teen years and takes on a mature approach to matters on life, you can step in and share experiences you had along your journey. Share stories of your teen years, childhood; discuss your learnings from your mistakes. You may find yourself laughing when you talk about your love life or the job decisions you made.  What you taught were the most difficult decisions may now seem like a walk in a park compared to your journey so far. Sharing your experiences will not only bring them closer to you but also give them guidance on what choices they can make. It gives them the advantage of knowing what direction any path can take. 

Ever so often we come across choices that seem hard to make. Knowing what path our parents took and how they fared may give us the advantage to choose a similar (or if our parents regretted their choice) different path. Your child may or may not choose the path you took, what your child will treasure is how difficult the journey was for you. Reveling in your hopes and dreams will help them identify with someone and give them a sense of security and belonging. This is crucial when we all come across some choices or situations in our life that leave us feeling lonely and helpless. 

  • How to nurture the relationship – It is not just about sharing your experiences, hope, and dreams, it is also learning about theirs. As you nurture this relationship with your child, you will see them take on challenges you were too afraid of. You may even find yourself leaning on them for guidance for the tricky and hard life decisions. Ever wondered how to configure the new wireless in your new home entertainment system or did you find yourself asking your son or daughter on what would be a good stock to invest in? Ask for advice on matters you are clueless about and provide support when they need it. Don’t feel shy as you find the roles have reversed. At times, even the teacher becomes the student. This has to be a symbiotic relationship for it to survive. 

There may also be times when you speak of your mistakes more than your accomplishments and this is also vital to nurturing the relationship. Your child needs to see you as a human – someone capable of making the same mistakes he or she can make. If your child learns that you chose the job your parents felt was right for them as opposed to a career they truly felt passionate about, they may begin to see the sacrifices you made and how you could have gone a different path. This will bring them closer and also enable them to share more about themselves now that they don’t have you pegged on any impossibly high standards. You are and will forever be their parent but you are also their friend. A combination of this precious is hard to achieve. 

  • How to enjoy the relationship – As in all relationships, there are good and bad times. You and your child may have a fall out over their choice of spouse or career or simply a lifestyle change. It is natural to feel anger and disappointment that they did not take the decision you felt strongly about. You are allowed some time to feel bad about this but you must never let this be the end of the relation, no matter how strongly you felt. Nothing in this world is more important than your child. In fact, if they chose wrong as you felt they did, now is more time for you stand by them and encourage their choice. If they are indeed wrong, they will need all their help and support to get back up. If they are right, then they would have taught you something amazing and opened you up for newer experiences than you ever taught possible. 

The important thing about this stage of your relationship with your child is to keep building it. No relation can survive stagnation. If fights happen, as they will, you be the first to fix it. Don’t wait too long or the moment will pass. Your child will fall back and regret acting the way they did if you make the first move.  Keep building it as if it was the first day of the relationship. Before you know it, they will have kids and come back to you for help, guidance and advice on how to parent their own. This is also a time when they may want to parent you in case your aging years are not too kind on you. In either situation, the important thing is to have each other during your times of need, to laugh and share all the wonderful experiences, to have a shoulder to cry on during times of pain and a listening ear when you talk about your hopes and dreams.