Every year at Christmas, my adult children come home from various parts of the country or world, depending on the year. Christmas represents the home-coming season for me; the season of heart connections.
Every year when they arrive home, they are carrying different experiences within their hearts. Some years they’ve been weary from travel and work, and seek the kind of rest and renewal that can only be found at home.
Sometimes, they’ve come home elated and eager to share their accomplishments or their good news.
Other years, they have returned heavy with stress and worry about a specific challenge or heartache going on in their lives.
Adult children mean bigger challenges
One thing I have learned as a parent, is that as my children have grown into adults the challenges they face become bigger and have the potential for much more far reaching consequences.
And I have less “control”. Meaning, I cannot always protect them as I once did when they were little.
When they were little, taking care of them and protecting them was one of my ways of being connected to them. I could comfort them when scared and kiss away their hurts; I could put them down for a nap to rest; or help them with school work; or teach them how to deal with conflict; or be their advocate when needed.
Now, they do not need me to take care of them in those same ways. They are making big life decisions on their own. Decisions which will impact their lives deeply and seriously like: choosing a partner, choosing a career, taking a job far away from home, or ending a relationship. Decisions about how to live with intention and purpose; how to create a life of meaning that makes a difference. Now, they need me to be there for them in a different way.
My Role Now
As my children have grown into adults, I have learned, and am still learning, how to be available for them, by allowing them the space to make their own decisions. I am learning how to be supportive, but not intrusive; how to be encouraging while also holding up a mirror to them so they can see their own blind spots.
I am learning to trust that whatever unfolds in their lives, they have the capacity, the inner strength and resilience to handle it all with courage, clarity and love for themselves and for others. And I am learning ways to express this belief I have in them, no matter the circumstances.
A New Traditions ~ Heart Connections
In the last few years, I have created a little tradition that helps me to truly and deeply connect with each of my children during their time at home. I commit to having “heart connections” with each of them. These heart connections are carved out space and time with each child, one on one, to listen deeply to how they are truly doing.
The connections are all about listening to how their lives are going, to their fears or worries, to their struggles and concerns, and to their dreams and passions. They are about creating a space of openness, receptivity, and presence, without an agenda so that true connection can occur.
Removing the Distractions
In order to create heart connections, we must remove the distractions. This means going beyond the surface chatter about our work, or our roles, or accomplishments or mistakes, or how much money we make or don’t make. When we remove the distractions, we leave those aspects of ourselves behind and are able to find the core self. When we carve out space to truly listen, we extend the invitation for another to reveal their most authentic self.
Best Christmas Gift Ever
This heart connection time with my children is my most treasured Christmas gift. It is the thing I look forward to the most. I let each child choose; do you want to take a walk, get a coffee, or just stay home and find a quiet moment in the coziness of our home? Regardless, it is all about just being, and being together.
The Gift Returns
The funny thing is, that in the last couple of years, my children have been available to me in the same way; inviting me to connect with them about my life. It always take me by surprise… a little. But, then I take a deep breath and allow myself to receive the gift they are offering me; a listening, open, and caring heart. When I allow myself to receive this, it brings us closer and provides the opportunity for us both to truly feel alive, grateful and present.
Invitation to Create Heart Connections
I sincerely hope that whatever holiday you celebrate this winter season, that you can create some heart connections with your loved ones. You’ve heard me say this before, but I will say it again; it is in the quiet and the stillness that the true gifts of our lives are to be found.
Take some time, slow down, carve out quiet to connect deeply with those you love. Invite others to talk about the things that are truly in their hearts. Listen with peace, joy and gratitude as you get to be present when another person shares their deepest self with you.
Peace in the journey,