Who is this adult in my child’s body?

by California State PTA Family Engagement Commission

Parents work hard to create good humans.  We feed our children not only for them to survive but to make sure they get good nutrition so their brains and bodies thrive. We teach them to wash their hands, say please and thank you … and all the other things in between.  Then one day, parents have to acknowledge that their children are adults and see if they were paying attention to all those lessons. 

Kelly Mattinson, a consultant to the California State PTA Family Engagement Commission, described how that day went for her. It occurred the first time she visited her son at college.:

“It had only been two weeks. Although 14 days truly is not very long, apparently, a lot can change in that amount of time. “As I got out of the car at the University, I headed towards my son’s dorm.  I walked by a student and thought nothing of it…. then I hear ‘MOM, MOM…’ “What the heck????

“The boy I walked past had purple hair… half shaved on the left side…. Wearing a tight white T-shirt with crazy graphics… I had never met THIS person before.  Apparently, this purple shaved headed bearded MAN was the adorable baby boy I had given birth to 18 years ago. WOW!?!?

“After a momentary pause.. I grabbed him and held him tight.  Yes, his appearance was a bit shocking… but he was still MY boy.  Apparently it was not going to be his last colorful hair decision.  The next few visits included green hair, red hair, and a variety of shaved designs… always a fun surprise.  That said, four years later, we attended the college graduation of a clean-shaven, kind, and considerate Physicist. 

“I hope other parents can learn from my experience.  Know this is a moment in time..  My story includes hair, but many other choices and body parts may be altered during this time of passage in our adult children’s lives. We do our best to raise good people – conscientious citizens – but they are also unique individuals with minds of their own, opinions that may differ from ours, and some have more ‘style’ than others.” !

Young adulthood is a time when your kids spread their wings and become self-sufficient adults. Sometimes this is a challenge for parents, particularly when those kids make decisions that may not align with your goals and choices,  but it can also be enlightening and inspiring.  Sit back and watch the child that you reared grow into an independent adult. As Mattinson’s story illustrates,  it’s worth the discomfort you may have during the process,