Coaching/Encouraging--Adult Children

Coaching/Encouraging--Adult Children

Responses and questions not only fuel inspiration for writing but challenge and encourage continued learning by listening and reading.  About everyone, singles, singles-again, parents, mates, adult children and Seniors have experienced and continue to contend with tremendous changes and challenges as the following query indicates.  I trust the discussion triggers ideas and offers workable guidelines for others and that the quote at the end will inspire you as much as it has me.

Hello Ruth, I was wondering what your relationship guidance would be for a 40-year-old son who has been in many significant relationships but has not yet found his forever mate. Specifically; you have explained that most new relationships are between people with very different preferences. These differences seem to light a fire of excitement, interest and wonder. And then after a period, some of the excitement goes away when you realize that the other person is so much different.

So, should a 40-year-old person who has had numerous relationships (experiences) look for someone who is similar in {personality} preferences versus different in preferences? Is this something that we have no control over? Is this something that comes into play as we age? Is this something that is more or less of a factor after having the "experience" of numerous relationships? Are older relationships more or less successful based on exciting differences or the comfort of similarities? Is this something that is more or less of a factor for people with different preferences (S vs iN)? How do you help someone think about and understand this? Or should a parent stay out of it and let nature take its course?

Thank you for writing. Unfortunately, each question deserves an entire page. So many ‘opposite experiences’ exist, that answering with a solid ‘yes’ or ‘no’ is not plausible, but your last two questions are addressed on page 2.

Opposites do indeed attract at the beginning of a relationship but we are wise to be aware that those differences will eventually lose some excitement, interest and wonder —maybe a lot of each. Keeping those fires burning depends on respect, understanding, appreciation and communication skills to keep the true love intact. As soon as Jim and I discovered that we were opposite in the two main personality-preferences, we began to gather information on how to turn those differences into positive bonds of strengths. In lieu of space, responding to such excellent questions about differences in personality/types, a brief review of the two main areas of preference-differences follows.

Extroversion vs Introversion: While the Extrovert enjoys having a personal listener, being with large groups and tolerating noise and confusion, the Introvert soon installs a detour sign to large gatherings, non-stop conversation and noise, preferring privacy. Noise is rarely ever easy for an Introvert, even coming from his/her darling baby. My recommendation: Extroverts, respect and protect your Introverted-partner. Invite them to speak, lest others rarely hear his/her comments/opinions.

Sensing (hands-on; facts and figures and repetition) vs iNtuitive(mind-on: ideas, dreams, possibilities). These two differences create a great team but the Sensing person, who focuses on facts and figures, dislikes changes frowns-on an Intuitive’s incessant dreams for change and improvement. My recommendation: Neither is more important, more creative or valuable in a relationship.  Being opposite in Sensing and Intuition is good fortune for both.

Since we’ve recently discussed Head-Logic and Heart-Logic Decision making thoroughly, you can fill in those blanks. The lifestyle preferences of structure vs unstructured are pretty easy to figure out as well. It’s no wonder why the fire of excitement, interest and wonder, and after a period, some of the excitement goes away. My recommendation is applying Behavioral Modification: Praise what you like; ignore what you dislike.

Actually, two people who share all the same preferences believe it’s great that they think alike, behave the same and are comfortable with the same kind of people eventually do become bored with each other. We either allow an opposite to be a constant challenge or put up with the same ole/same ole.

So, should a 40-year-old person who has had numerous relationships (experiences) look?    I think rather than look, a person who has experienced disappointing relationships is better off deciding “I will just enjoy who I am and appreciate the people I meet as I am moving through life”. They can be open to a special relationship, but backing off from the looking approach removes the pressure and relaxes a person to if I meet someone, okay; If I don’t okay.

What I hear mostly from people over 40 is their delight in finding a friend who shares a lot in common in experiences and prefers the same type of recreation or discussing the same subjects, etc.  after Forty years of experience, a person knows more about what they do not want, which is helpful.  If they were controlled in one relationship, they’ll avoid any tendency in a new one. When our son David had a bad first experience, he coined a statement I’ve used in counseling “Better to know what you want and not have it, than to have what you don’t want.”

Or should a parent stay out of it and let nature take its course?  Parents ache when their adult children are hurting and the immediate response is to treat them the same way as when they fell out of a tree or failed a test. Some parents move in and dictate who their single-again child sees and what they do. If your adult child asks you for your opinion, give it.  But it’s wise to wait until they ask.

When your adult child suffers from a break-up, divorce, or restlessness regarding what to do with their lives, do not hesitate to suggest that they seek out counseling to correct any immature behaviors, to learn communication skills and avoid a rebound situation.

Jim and I agreed that parenting little children required more time but was easier than parenting an adult child who, as the writer said, has had many significant relationships but has not yet found his forever mate. My suggestion to young adults who wonder what Temperament/Type they need to look for is to rather focus on nurturing friendship with whom you enjoy, respect, share the same value systems and morals. Adult children are wise to observe family relationships—parents, grandparents, aunt and uncles. Taking adult education classes at a nearby college or volunteering are pathways to making new friends and getting new perspectives.

How do you help someone think about and understand this? Letting the person know that you are concerned and share what you’ve learned about temperament/type.  Offer to pay for a few sessions (if finances are a concern) with a counselor who can enlighten them regarding various personalities and answer some other questions they might have.  But also, make it plain to the over 40-year-old that you do not consider being single or single again as a failure. Everyone is not better off being married. Physically assist your child who also has a child as often as possible.

The parent’s forever-job is to set a good example. Be available and willing to listen. Do not pry. Accept the young adult’s friends and withhold judgment and criticism. Affirm the young person as often as possible. Loving your child unconditionally--the way God loves His children--is absolutely crucial. And promise to pray for your adult child regularly.

When the tables are turned and one of the parents becomes single again through death or divorce, your child will know how to return the understanding, patience support and counsel that they received from you.  On the subject of Seniors single again, I’m including the following response to the Serendipity blog, which not only applies, but speaks volumes.  If there’s enough interest in pursuing Seniors facing this possibility or perspectives to be shared, let me know.

After John died 5 years ago, after many years of marriage and three lovely children, I learned to be content. When an acquaintance who had taken me to dinner revealed that he was romantically interested, I didn’t even want to like him. He prayed that I might be open to a relationship. Eventually, God bonked me on the head and told me that I should pay attention. God enabled me to let down my guard. We’ve been married for six ridiculously happy months. K

Nietzsche-if a person has a "why" to live can endure any "how." One of the most helpful things we can do when we start feeling anxious about the unknown is to channel our anxiety into actual Prayer.                                                                                 Oh, the depths of the riches of the wisdom of knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Rom 11:33 (NIV)