I recently read a book that all later boomers should read; it may be too late for early boomers. The book is Parents to the End: How Baby Boomers Can Parent for Peace of Mind, Foster Responsibility in Their Adult Children, and Keep Their Hard-Earned Money, by Linda Herman. The book covers the many facets of parenting adult children. It reminds me of two books I read when my kids were toddlers: Reviving Ophelia and Real Boys. I read these books because I was about to navigate raising a daughter and a son. Parents to the End is the next step on this journey.

Just as Reviving Ophelia set the stage for bumps in the road on raising a daughter, in this book, Herman walks us through what early parenting has looked liked for most boomers. There is a good overview of how we moved “self-esteem” to the top of the ladder of importance to our children, and what effects this may have had.

Next she covers separation and individualization, which leads to several anecdotes on when this does not go well. Herman has been a psychotherapist in Seattle for over 20 years, and has much experience to draw from. There are many useful “lessons learned” sections.

Most helpful to me, as a parent of teens, is the summary of action items at the end of most sections such as: creating drive, grief and loss, forgiveness and letting go. This is a very valuable resource for navigating the potentially rough waters of your teens moving into adulthood.

Chapter eighteen covers “The Bill of Rights for Parents of Adult Children”:

  1. The right to be free from abuse
  2. The right to be free from guilt
  3. The right to peace of mind
  4. The right to have reasonable expectations
  5. The right to be imperfect
  6. The right to decide what to do with your own money
  7. The right to decide what to do with your own time
  8. The right to say “no”
  9. The right to selective association…and…
  10. The right to retirement

Having witnessed countless other struggles with some of the “rights” listed above, I found this particularly instructive.

The last chapter covers the “Twelve Truths About Parents of Adult Children” and each of these is equally instructive and even worth future review. This is a book to have on hand for the years to come. You could even do a baseline assessment of your own parenting style with the worksheets in Appendix A. Appendix B walks you through signs to diagnose if your child has a behavior problem (real or perceived). Lastly, Appendix C is a valuable worksheet for “personal coping skills for parents of adult children.”

While reading this insightful resource, I felt as though Linda Herman was sitting beside me. Her straightforward tone and ability to relate experiences provides solid advice and action items.

The Above mentioned books and more great books are available through our Bette Recommends web store.

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