Dear Child of Mine:
Some years ago, between the time you pedaled off on a Big Wheel and the time you drove off with your brand-new driver’s license, I did the math and realized that if all went well I would know you as my minor child for 18 years, and then I would know you as an adult for about 40 years.
So I have spent a fair amount of time thinking about our future relationship, especially after two of you kids have already grown into beautiful, intelligent, independent young women, and the future is obviously quick upon me.
And so, without further ado, here is my promise to you, my Future Adult Child:
I trust your judgment. Of course I do! I spent 18 years filling your head with everything I could. When my peers were turning themselves into helicopter parents, I opted to be a submarine: instead of hovering over you, I ran silent and deep, lurking nearby, watchful for real trouble and waiting to see if you could sail the Good Ship You through the surf.
So you’re as ready as you’ll ever be. As an adult, you never have to explain, or apologize for, your mistakes to the likes of me. If you need advice, just ask. If you need help, simply call and what’s mine will be yours. But I won’t insult you by assuming you don’t have life handled.
I promise that I will never, ever tell that story about how you wet your pants at school, no matter how big a laugh it could get. Never, that is, after I have now told it to 85,000 of my closest friends. I’ll let all four of you kids wonder which one I’m talking about.
While you will always be welcome wherever I am, I will never try to guilt you into visiting which is the parental version of a wife complaining that she never gets flowers. When the flowers come, they may look pretty but it’s just not the same.
Because I believe that family members should earn the friendship and affinity they get from other family members, I promise I will treat you with all the respect and care that I offer my closest friends, and so I promise that I will never enter your home and critique your decorating, housekeeping, children, dog, or spouse, because I would never be so rude to my closest friends.
While we’re on the subject of spouses: when it comes to other people, your affection for them is the highest, and only, endorsement I will ever need. Your obligation is to your relationship with your partner, not to me or your dad.
I promise to have my own life and interests, and not behave as if my world revolves around you. It really does revolve around you, but I see no reason to burden you with that every day.
I promise that you can quote this back to me as required.
In short, I promise to treat our grown-up relationship with the same care and respect with which my parents have treated me, for which I am forever grateful. You will always be my baby, but that doesn’t mean I will treat you like one.
Ahwatukee Foothills resident Elizabeth Evans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her column appears monthly.