Lessons Learned in Parenting Adult Children
Are you ever officially “done” parenting your child when they become an adult? Listen to this insightful and playful conversation between this week’s guest, Amanda Christian, and her dad – Dr. Dan Allender.
Parenting Adult Children: A two-part conversation between Dan and Becky Allender in 2018. Parenting adult children is a category full of complexity, shame, and pain, but also the potential for new expressions of love and the hope of redemption.
About our guest:
Amanda Christian is a doctorally trained nurse practitioner who has spent the last 15 years working with cancer patients. She recently moved to Los Angeles, California with her husband Jeff and two daughters, Grace and Parker. Everyone is enjoying seeing the Sun more except for 2 year old Parker who has commented: “Sun always there. That’s weird.” Amanda is an Earth sign in Chinese medicine, Enneagram 9, a Scorpio without any awareness of what that means and unfortunately for podcast listeners, a bit of a rambler. She also happens to be the middle child of Dan and Becky Allender which explains her presence on the podcast today.
Dan: Racheal, we’re gonna talk about the trials and thrills of parenting, adult children. And, you know, I, I had some thoughts, but something of, I, I think the kindness of the spirit kept nagging me, uh, to say, you know, I can talk about it, but it would be so much better to include one of my children who happens to be very much an adult and who happens to be ongoingly parented by me, whether she wishes to or not. So let me introduce to our audience, my daughter, Amanda Christian. Amanda. Welcome.
Amanda: Thank you. Thanks for having me.
Dan: Well, I can say I’m grateful. You’re here. We’ll see if I feel equally so by the end of our time.
Amanda: Who’s gonna suffer the most.
Dan: I, I’m kind of hoping it’s Racheal, but we’ll see.
Rachael: I actually just find myself. Like, I’m really glad that you didn’t like call my dad or my mom and say, do you wanna come on and talk about what it’s been like to have Rachael as an adult that you’re parenting. So I’m really grateful. You guys are here. I will try to jump in and be as honest as possible as well, but I’m, you know, it’s gonna be good.
Amanda: It sounds like you came up with a part two though.
Dan: We, we did.
Amanda: Next recording session could be with your parents.
Dan: Oh, I like that. Amanda. We can, we, we, we can share something of both, as I said, the trials and the thrills, and I must admit, having a very honest daughter has created some level of, uh, not just trials and thrills, but trepidation. So with that, uh, let me just underscore that as we talk about this, you know, in so many ways, if you have young children, if you have children, you know, in elementary school, or this may not be applicable to you yet. But one of the things that I think I have discovered was I kind of thought when you left Manda at 18, that I was pretty much done. Uh, and then I think, you know, at 22, when you graduated from college, I really thought I was done. And then, absolutely. When you got married, I figured I was really done. But the fact is it’s so obvious. It’s so painfully obvious, and I’m not claiming to be the brightest bulb in the universe, but you know, as a parent, you’re a parent until the day you die. Uh, and parenting is part of the great privilege. It’s certainly part of the great joy, uh, but also confusion, heartache, uh, irritation, rage, loss, grief, glory, blah, blah, all to say, um, this is really fun. So I’m gonna pretty much turn a lot of this over to Rachel and, and see where you wanna go.
Rachael: Oh gosh. I mean, you and I have had so many conversations about this, even though my kids are currently, my stepsons are 10 and 12. You know, I feel like we’ve had enough conversations about this that I’m already preparing for like, oh my gosh, what will that be like? And I am an adult child who has parents who are constantly having to negotiate what it means to parent me. And I think about the mixed signals that we have to give, you know, like, I’m fine, I’m so independent. You don’t have any say in my life, but also I’m definitely gonna call you at the most intense moments to get your advice. And so I think about just that, that push and pull, that feels so very real. Um, and, and in some ways navigating that transition and cause it is a transition and it’s one that unfolds over many seasons. You just named several of them, that I do think are significant threshold moments of renegotiating. What kind of relationship you’re gonna have with your parents as you’re becoming an adult, but I just turned 40 this year and I definitely am looking back at like the past 20 years and being like, oh, I am still very much becoming an adult. So I feel like I kind of have to say to you Dan, like, what is the task of like parenting adult children?
Dan: Well, I’m, I’m, I’m gonna answer that, but I I’m gonna turn it to my daughter and go, so what has it been like? You know, again, uh, I don’t think we go back to 16, 18 20, but generally Amanda, what’s it been like to deal with a parent? And again, you got two parents here, so you, you can speak about parents, but you can talk about your mother as differentiated from the one currently speaking.
Amanda: I can. What, so my, the question is what has it been like having parents? What was, what was your question?
Dan: Yeah, no, I mean, what’s it been like being parented as an adult. Okay. The good, bad and the ugly,
Amanda: The good, bad and the ugly, you know, I think that I have so much gratitude toward having you both as my parents in particular, since you’re the only parents I’ve experienced aside from my sister who sometimes thinks that she’s also a, my parent and, um, it’s, there’s a lot that has been, um, fun about becoming more of an adult and feeling like getting to enter more conversations, not as an equal cause I think that probably never happens. Um, but still like as a, someone who maybe you’re even more interested in, like what is it that I have to say, or my siblings have to say about, especially like our family history? Like how did you experience this? Looking back in a way that, you know, when you’re in the midst of it, um, you’re not able to have that kind of birds eye view. And I don’t know if you’re as curious about like what your, your 10-year-old, you know, how they experienced family conflict that happened, you know, weeks or a year ago. You kind of want that to be shut down. I mean, and then later it feels a little safer to talk about, but, um, so I think a lot of it’s been good. It’s funny how, despite everything, like I still will always be the child and I’ll always need that. Uh, like guidance security from you and mom and you know, I think it’s funny sometimes. I, um, I spent the weekend with my husband and my sister and her husband and they had a conversation that was like, well, when you’re talking with mom and dad, you, your voice changes. Like you talk differently, you act differently. And I was like kind of wanting to hide under the chair and be like, I don’t wanna acknowledge whatever you’re saying. I feel like I’m the same person, but of course I like revert back to being the child. Like I, and I am like a, an earth constitution… what… Enneagram nine or so I’m like the middle child. I’m like the peacemaker, pleaser. I want everyone to be happy and like limited conflict child. And so that, that always is gonna come out when we have interactions and I will be like inherently different when I interact with you, um, on the phone or in person than I am with just about anybody else.
Dan: Yeah, and the question of, and what has that, you know, when you’ve got to be in conflict, which, happens a bit. What’s it been like to engage… and I’ll say me, like, me in conflict?
Amanda: Yeah. Well, um, I am an avoider in conflict. I mean, you make it sound like I’m in conflict often, which I don’t know. Um, but I, I am someone who I like to procrastinate and I, um, and sometimes hope can just like, as a child, like just sleep and conflict, goes away. And as adult, if we have conflict, I often ignore your phone calls or don’t call you.
Amanda: And I’m still, it’s another thing of like every, not every time, but, often I find like if you’re calling, if mom’s calling, there’s always, I have to run through this mental list of like, is some, is something wrong? Did I do something wrong? Like as a kid, you know, it’s like, oh, did they find out that I hid my report cards behind the, uh, washing machine? Like, I don’t know. I have to think about like, is there something that they found out that I did wrong and I have to remember, I’m an adult and I didn’t do anything wrong. And like, I’m not in trouble. So I, that feels like overly revealing about my conflict style.
Dan: Well, I, I it’s, it’s so true. I mean, I know when you’re hiding, because one or two texts or one phone call doesn’t get even a, like a I’ll call you later. Uh, and in that, that has been some of the tension between us because I’m pretty good at starting conflict. Uh, and you’ve been really, really good at avoiding it. Uh, and you know, our styles are, are pretty dissimilar in terms of how that gets played out.
Amanda: Yeah. I mean, has that been fun to parent?
Dan: Are you kidding? It’s been maddening.
Rachael: It’s not even like a little bit fun, like just, you know, keeping things interesting a little bit.
Dan: Well, and again, uh, we’re, we’re speaking about parenting. Parenting is not the same across, you know, the parent I am to the oldest, uh, is not the parent that I am to the middle or the youngest. And so in that sense, there isn’t, there there’s certain uniformity I would argue, but, uh, you know, with the oldest it’s toe to toe, sometimes yelling, uh, you know, setting boundaries, being clear that this is no longer going to go in the direction that you want. But with Amanda, uh, there is, uh, more subtlety, more need to kind of parent with camouflage, um, and you know, a, a robust conflict interaction, which she’s had with me. Oh, yes. Uh, and it’s been hurt, anger, tears, you know, uh, full fledged engagement, but generally speaking, you know, to parent each of your adult children requires different skills and it did from the beginning. And it certainly continues, I think, to some degree through the growing adult years.
Rachael: Well, you, you kind of bring up an interesting point cause like I’m the oldest in my family and I have three sub and I’m very like, that’s, I’m very confrontational. I mean, I think even with like the good things I wanna talk about, it’s just kind of like, I’m, I’m go, I’m diving in. And I think my siblings and I, we all have very different styles and um, I I’d be curious, Amanda, like, because you have siblings and you guys all have different, you know, you have interpersonal conflicts with your parents, but how do you guys navigate? You’re all adults now. I feel like I have really special relationship with my siblings in adulthood. That’s really developed and become really sweet. We still regress and have moments where I’m like, how are we having the same junior high fight we’ve been having for like 30 years? How do you guys feel like you address some of the tensions that just come in families as like a sibling unit with your parents? Like when it’s kind of like, you know, you’ve had those conversations and it’s time to kind of bring it to the table.
Amanda: Yeah. I think that, uh, my sister and I are much more likely to have those conversations, uh, whether it’s over text or a phone and you know, if, if there’s something that’s happening in our family, especially, um, with my sister, we like, we talk about it right away. Like those things don’t typically dwell for long periods of time. And I, I I’m, I have a, um, slightly disillusioned idea of how I deal with conflict because a part of me thinks I’m really good at conflict and I I’m like able to address it head on, but it turns out I think maybe I can, if my sisters, like with me in the ring than I feel like, then there’s a bit more safety on my own to seek it out. Not, not something that I do. Um, and then, you know, when the three of us are together, which, you know, sadly doesn’t happen that often these days, um, then it’s super fun. It’s really fascinating to talk about in real time, uh, things that we’re experiencing with our parents and like typically we’re all on the same page. Like we all feel about the same way about certain things. And so there’s so much, um, like comfort in, uh, comradery in, you know, being able to say, oh, I, I feel I, I share that same sentiment and feeling and like, okay, now what now? What do we do?
Dan: Oh, I’m dying to know what the last conversation was.
Amanda: I know, I don’t know if that’s the point of this is this, um, podcast.
Dan: It may not be, but I’ll, I’ll go back to, at least my understanding the primary goal for an, you know, for a parent with regard to their adult children is to, to create a context for them to flourish, you know, where their own desires, dreams, even things that you do not fully agree with. Nonetheless, the idea is I wanna be good soil that you get to grow in, but also I wanna be part of being able to enjoy the flourishing, that idea, being able to dine together to, to be able to enjoy life together. So in some ways, you know, the, the, the task to me, of, of a parent, whether it’s young children or older children is to flourish, which means at some level, I I’m meant to provide a safety net for you to be able to tell the truth, but also to grow in your own ability to live out the truth that, you know, you want to be. And that’s a complicated role, um, to tell the truth, but to become the truth, um, and both, and not one nor the other. And so I I’m, I’m curious how that, how you see that working or not working in the context of seeing your mother and I parent the three of you.
Amanda: Hmm. Yeah. That’s a good question. Um, I feel like I need to like pause and think about this and maybe have you say it again. So how you allow us to tell the truth to you, but also feel our own truth?
Dan: Right. And to become the truth that, that you, as, you know, for example, that you have avoided conflict, you, you were the one who in the middle of conflicts you’d fall asleep. It was amazing skill. Uh, you know, almost like God, are you really asleep? And, and after a number of experiences, of you as a six year old, eight year old, 10 year old, you were, you were darn asleep. Uh, and like have to wake you up to have conflict. I’m sorry, but you gotta be a awakened. So that notion that over many years, I, I, I’ve been wanting you to flourish to become more articulate about where you are hurt, where you’re angry or where you want more yet. On the other hand, your ability to bring peace to our family. And many others is an incredible gift. You know, as particularly a nurse practitioner who works primarily in realms of death, dealing with oncology, the, the reality of your care, um, your ability to bring care and kindness, I think is stunning and superb. So there are things about the way you live that are just fabulous. And we use this phrase constantly. There’s great beauty, great brokenness in every human being. So I think having that as a framework, how’s it been in that process for you of how having parents, who to some degree, uh, want to address your brokenness, want to indeed glory in your beauty?
Amanda: I, I think that it’s probably allowed me to have a lot more insight than I would if I had different parents, because I do think my, uh, reflexive response to conflict, like you said, is like to disassociate and to kind of shut down and you know, it’s an interesting thing that that’s been my pattern since I was so little and it’s still like, it’s like the, the nature of my own, uh, conflict is typically when I miss things because I’m too overwhelmed and I, and I kind of shut down. And so, um, you know, I think that one thing that I’ve known is you guys are very good at, um, at obviously observing and seeing things around you, human patterns, you know, your family very well. And, um, it’s, it’s interesting when I know that you see something in me that I’m doing or, and I can feel you wanting to say it, but you’re not gonna say it. And I have to like either specifically say, well, what is going, you know, what is it that you’re seeing? What, what is it that’s going on? Or I have to just wait until I’m like having panic attacks. And then you’ll, you’ll kindly say, do you wanna talk about what’s going on? Um, so I think that, um, oh gosh, I think that the, the, the double edge sword is sometimes, um, and the, I just realized this is not answering your question cause I don’t know if I can answer it yet. But, um, the, one of the things that I am trying to be better about is both visually seeing myself better. And then also, um, asking for help around me and for you, I think is asking for guidance sometimes and not waiting until things get too murky where I’m having a difficulty seeing. And often one thing that I would love is maybe for you guys to be able to tell me when you see things earlier. You have your parent philosophy that I don’t actually like, your parenting adult children philosophy.
Rachael: I’m laughing. Cause I see in our notes here almost no advice given is also one of the primary tasks. And what I hear you saying, Amanda is, sometimes I actually would warrant you disrupting me with like advice I haven’t asked for, but might need, I hear you saying, bring it on.
Amanda: Completely. And I think maybe this would be a good example of you parent different children differently. So maybe my, my sister wants no advice because she’s like a super intuitive, constantly looking inward and meditating person. Whereas I feel overwhelmed by life and never really seem to find a time to do that. And so I’d like, I kind of want you to destroy your philosophy about parenting when it comes to me, which is to never give advice because I think that I need advice and I think I need it before I start like shutting down because there are times where I just feel like there’s so much going on in life and I just don’t even know like what it is that I’m supposed to ask about.
Dan: Well, I’m sitting here going, okay, that’s really, really helpful.
Rachael: I am watching your face kind of being like… Okay!
Dan: Uh, uh, okay. I mean, because it has felt so respectful to not intrude, like…
Amanda: And maybe freeing
Dan: And, and on the other hand, freeing, like it’s your life girl. I’m not gonna live your life. And I think that’s something that you have a clarity about with regard to your children, that you do worry about them. I mean, I don’t know how a parent does anything on beyond worrying. I mean, we worry about all three of you. We worry about all six of you. We worry about four plus four plus four, that is your children and your spouses and you. And it’s just part of, I think that reality as a parent of being able to like, not let worry shape how we engage you, which oftentimes maybe I have too conveniently said, that’s not offering thought or counsel till you ask, but I can, I I’m stepping back going. All right, girl, let’s, there’s something here that feels right.
Amanda: I can think about many times in my twenties where I, for instance, am going to move in with my boyfriend. Who’s now my husband, uh, and having dinner with you and telling you, and you saying, you’re not asking me, are you? And I said, no, I don’t think I am. Um, so you know, there’s, there’s clear times where for good or worse, I’m not seeking counsel. And, and those are still I think, okay times to say, here’s my thought. And I feel like I can take that thought and hopefully separate it from my own. And that I guess the idea that you are going to of like how to say your truth and know your truth or, and be your truth like that, that I think takes a lot of time. And I don’t know if anyone ever perfects with like separating yourself from your, your parents, from your family of origin. Like I hear I, and I, especially like I, the strongest voices that I kind of know in my life, hopefully aside from myself, aside from my husband are probably my mom, my dad and my sister. Those are, you know, I kind of can anticipate how you guys will respond in certain situations. And, um, and I seek to be able to say, this is their opinion, but, but where’s mine and trying to find that is something that I am like constantly working on, especially when I make, and I’ve made a series of big life decisions in the past year, which was quit my job, leave our house in Seattle, briefly, move in with you guys, move to Los Angeles, find a new house, school for my child, childcare and a job. So with all of that, you know, I think that I’ve had to mostly just look at, look at my, my own truth and you know, what is it for my family that I, that I think in this moment is right. And that changes. But you know, for, for, I’m watching frozen, constantly the idea of doing the right thing. It’s like what I feel like I’m trying my best, but still like appreciating and, and still wanting counsel and guidance. And I think that’s something that I feel really strongly about being an adult child. Like I am still a child and I still very much value you and mom’s opinions. And when I feel those opinions are being politely like withheld, sometimes I think I just wish you would tell me what you think.
Dan: And, and let me, I hear it. And I think even this podcast, whether it benefits anyone obviously is benefiting me. Cause I, I, I’m hearing you in a way that perhaps my inability to hear you well, uh, somehow it’s crossing the threshold, but let me ask the other side. It, you’ve also been, uh, one of our children that doesn’t want to ask. Um, it’s harder for you to let your desire actually be known because you have to tend to virtually everybody else’s desires before you come to kind of fully know your own. Um, and, and in that sense to me, helping you flourish probably has more of me taking a step over the line that I’ve set also the acknowledgement that you gotta come out here and speak what you want. Uh, and that that’s, that’s the middle ground that we need to find together.
Rachael: And I think that’s the trickiest part about parenting adult children, because it is, you are trying to find that middle ground of how do I love you and support you and offer counsel, but not in coercive ways, not in ways that undermine you developing into who you need to become. And I, you know, it’s like, I know I got a lot of work to do on my anxiety now in my current parenting, but certainly when I have to like send people out into the world to navigate becoming an adult, knowing all that entails. And I think I will struggle with knowing, when am I, am I being overbearing by like saying, there’s danger here. Like look out for this, make your own choices. But like, don’t ignore these really dangerous things. Or am I like trying to control their lives? And I think sometimes that gets muddy because we’re not just dealing with like, okay, here’s how you do this. It’s like, well, what’s your style of parenting? What’s your style of relating to the world? And what I hear you guys saying is you both are aware of your own styles and how do you negotiate that, uh, in this parent, adult-child relationship? Because I think it is, it is a different territory. And I would imagine for you, Dan, even like noticing the, I mean, I don’t know Amanda, this is something you’ve been able to name before. So I’m like also those ways we become more aware, the older we get and then we have to keep renegotiating, like, okay, I know at one point I told you, these were my boundaries. Now I feel like I might need to renegotiate some different boundaries. And that has to be really different than like, I mean, it is kind of similar what you’re doing with like toddlers and teenagers. It’s just, the problems are more complex. So
Amanda: Yeah, I think, I think it is a fascinating thing. And I think one thing that I, you know, I’m curious about with this podcast is to, to hear a little and learn a little bit more about how do you parent a child as they grow and evolve, because they don’t need things in the same way when they’re two, as they do when they’re 22 or 32 or 40. And as you said, dad, they’re you, you parent each child differently. And hopefully a lot of it’s just unconscious that, you know, this child does not react well when I just tell them what to do. But I thought one idea is that, you know, we learned from Sassy, my sister-in-law with Montessori. And then just this philosophy of like asking for consent with your child and like telling even when they’re little and respecting their humanness, even when they’re an infant of like, I’m going to pick you up and I’m going to get you dressed and we’re gonna do these things, like the idea of asking, are you okay if we talk about blank? You know, are we okay? We talk about what I see with this job or the way that, that you seem to be uncomfortable. You know, I think just this basic idea of saying I see something, are you okay if we talk about it? And then hopefully you can say, you know, actually don’t wanna talk about that with you. Like I’m still figuring that out. Or I would imagine it would be like, actually, yeah, this is something I’d like to talk.
Dan: I, again, I feel like the huge beneficiary of this conversation, like darn that’s a really good point. And you know, we we’ve watched, uh, our daughter-in-law, uh, who goes by Sassy or other professional name is Elizabeth, but you know, we’ve watched how she’s spoken to six month old, two year old, five year old children. And it’s really been one of those incredible gifts to, in one sense, relearn how to parent, even though we don’t have young children, the application to that has been huge. And I think one of the things that we, I don’t speak for Becky, but one of the things that we have like so fully delighted in is watching our children, parent their children. And there’ve been a number of times, uh, where we’ve watched you, Amanda, parent Parker or grace, and later said, I felt really mothered, not that you were obviously mothering us as your parents, but there was a sense of being able to take in the incredibly sweet parenting you have offered your children and to know that’s what it would’ve been so sweet to have had as children. So I think that’s one, the, to me, one of the, the primary, you know, one of the primary categories prior to this is keep your mouth shut, unless you’re asked, I have to rethink that. But I also would say one of the other major, like global true statements about parenting, you know, adult children is our calling, is to delight. Our calling is to be proud and delight in everything that you all do well. And frankly, at times, and in many areas, way better than we did, uh, in, in this case as parents or in how you’re dealing with life. And that is just, I think it’s one of the joys. One of, you know, when we began at the beginning to say, one of the absolute thrills of parenting an adult child is to see them live out their life on behalf of others, be it, their children, be it, their spouse, be it, their friends in a way in which you get to be captured by such joy.
Rachael: Okay. What are some of the struggles, because I think we have to start with the joys and the delight for sure. What would you say are, I mean, I think in some ways we’ve talked a little bit about like, what are the struggles of the transition for us as adult children and what are some of the struggles as a parent of adult children? Um,
Dan: Uh, uh, you know, when, when they steal their children and move away. It’s really hard. Proximity is such a unique gift. And, you know, for a long season, we, we had the privilege of having all three children within an hour, hour and a half of we live. And, you know, I now look back and go, we didn’t take full advantage of that. Uh, because I think we lived with, in some sense, the foolish assumption that this would always be the case, but I think that notion of how much we long to be with, you know, Amanda, Jeff, Parker and Grace, and now it’s trips. Um, and we’re, we’re doing okay on that. Not great, but doing okay. And I think that sense of like contact of, you know, we’re not a family that has like daily phone calls. Uh, sometimes we might go a week to two to two weeks without much interaction. But I think that sense of every time there is, it’s so sweet. And then the loss of when that phone call or zoom or what other platform we might be in, I think that’s just true for most parents as their children move on, go to other places. But for us, that was again, just it’s we can bless the move truly bless it’s it’s a good move, but then live with that sense of loss is, you know, in some sense you never recoup it.
Rachael: Well, I’m just thinking about that, cause I’ve lived away from my parent, my parents and my family, most of my, all my siblings live in like Oklahoma city area, 16, 17 years ago. But when I was single and kind of like, I just had more flexibility in my schedule. I could get home more often and more frequently. And, and in some ways my attention was more oriented. Like that was still my primary family. And you know, now I live on the other side, I was in Seattle and now I’m in Philadelphia and I have, uh, I have a, you know, a family I’m tending to and where I can feel how that takes my, and I’m still fairly new in this, you know, I’m in year three and I’m just, I’m realizing what my parents have had to sacrifice in just not only me living far away, but also me coming into my family far away. And that, you know, we get these long visits, which are so sweet, but it is, it’s not the same as like living in the same town and living nearby and having that access and that proximity and the capacity to kind of do those like life rhythms together. Um, cause I, I have not known that for a long time and I probably need to call them more often. Like that’s mostly what I’m feeling like right now. It’s like, I need to, I need to reach out more. I mean we talk regularly, but I’m like sometimes I don’t often acknowledge what that must feel like to have like one child of all your children that’s yeah. Not in physical proximity.
Dan: Well we come, not, not that we’ve done so recently, but all I’d have to do is to say to Becky, you know, in Fiddler on the Roof when Tevya’s daughter and son-in-law are off to Siberia and that all I’d have to do is to say when, when the kids moved to Siberia and we’d both be in tears. Um, on the other side, I don’t think children, even when they live close, by understand how a text, this unrelated, who, Hey, by the way, are, are you coming? Or, you know, not, not just a text going, wondering how you are, um, like that that’s better than a Christmas gift. That’s better than almost anything. So I, I think in one sense Amanda’s life and of just looking obviously saying this to you, but your life is so full, so rich, so good. But you can’t imagine the level of, of sadness that comes nor the level of thrill that comes with any, just any overture of engagement. So Becky and I, I don’t think live desperately waiting for each phone call on the other hand, when it comes, you, you would think that we do. And that I, I, I didn’t understand that with regard to my parents. Um, but I think it was true for them as well.
Amanda: Yeah. I, I have liked my almost we did like weekly calls and sometimes even twice weekly for a little bit with this job I have where I end up driving 30 minutes home in the evenings and that has been really sweet. I’ve loved having that connection. And then, and then I felt guilty about something. And so then I stopped calling you cuz I knew you’re gonna ask and I didn’t have an answer. I was like, I’d literally be walking to my car and go I really wanna call my dad and my mom, but I can’t, cause he’s gonna ask when his car is coming back and I dunno.
Dan: Well we know it’s coming back this coming Tuesday. So hopefully that means you can call on the way home from work.
Amanda: It does. Yeah, no, I’m back to being able to call again.
Dan: But I think, you know, Rachel your question of it, it, do you see the bind and yet it’s the paradox of you bless your children going into the world and, and indeed making moves on the other hand, there’s that loss and the ability to ask of your children, let alone of yourself, can we hold this ambivalence together? Um, don’t take away the loss, but also don’t take away the blessing and the ability to ask of ourselves and you know, not just Amanda, but her husband, Jeff, to be able to go, we are so happy for your choice and we could shoot you. Um, and, and can we hold both our true one? It’s not, well, one may be truer in certain moments, but both are true and equally have a place that’s, that’s hard labor, uh, to hold and to actually truly bless, but also truly grieve.
Dan: Yeah. I mean, it’s, it’s, it’s a word that you grew up with isn’t it?
Rachael: Which I think is so amazing. Cause I don’t think I learned that word till I went to grad school and I was like, what an interesting word.
Amanda: Yeah. I think the vernacular in our family was very unique and has just continued to have it’s um, it’s key words like joy… suffering.
Dan: Ambivalence. Shame.
Amanda: Sorrow. Yes.
Dan: Contempt. Death. Resurrection.
Amanda: This is the answer of what my siblings and I do when we’re together, we just go, oh, joy.
Dan: Uh, there is such a place for what I would call benevolent mockery. Uh, you know, we, we started our kids off pretty young being able to play in the realm of sort of, you know, Best in Show, Waiting for Guffman and mockumentaries, but sincere efforts to honor the truth. And you know, over the years, uh, I certainly have been gentily and graciously mocked. Uh, and some of the verbiage as you put, it has been a bit oppressive, I think for my children. But also I’m glad to know that you laugh about it.
Amanda: Yeah. I guess to mock, you have to really see someone well, so we both see, love and, and kindly mock.
Dan: Well, any last thoughts before we end? Uh, you know, when I think about this process, again, I go back to, you’ve gotta have the capacity just to have hard conversations, but you also have to have the ability to play. And I think some of the great gifts that we’ve had from all three of our children and from their spouses is one of the, the gifts that I don’t think we ever thought we would ever get. And that is, they actually like hanging out with us. Uh, they invite us on vacations without the necessity to actually pay for it. And that’s pretty stunning, you know that you want us to come, but we’re okay not having to pay the whole thing. No, just come, we’ll pay. And it’s like, oh my gosh, you like us. You actually, I I’m good that you love us, but you actually like us. And I think that is what every adult parent, with regard to their children long for, yes, you love us. And even then I grieve for parents who feel like they don’t have the love of their children. But what I’m saying is even that there’s something about being liked of being fiercely loved and liked that, um, I think is for me, there’s no honor, there’s no award, there’s no gift in this life quite comparable, uh, to being liked by your children.
Amanda: Well, I mean that, that is actually our probably number one source of, of sibling conflict is, is fighting over our parents’ attention still. We still have, you know, like, well, they were over there for a while and they’re now they’re going back to you. Like how do you get them coming back? And um, we have to, we have to have our own peace over, you know, one sibling getting more time. I think that the, the times spent is something that we all crave and feel really grateful to receive. And so we do, we do like you guys. Hmm.
Dan: Well, thank you my love and thank you, Rachel. Uh, this has been, shall we say something that I, this is a podcast I’m gonna need to listen to again and…
Rachael: I have really enjoyed being along for this ride. So thank you for letting me be a part of this.
Amanda: Thank you for having me. I don’t know if I’ve had anything like super intelligible to say aside from, I think maybe I, I need to call my parents more and then also I need to deal with my own internal conflict structure, right.
Dan: That, that that’d be good. And I have some advice for you after we’re done.