by Amanda Waterhouse at Exponent II, reposted here by permission. See the original post here. Singles: you may want to pass this along to your parents! It’s very tastefully done.
Note from Suzette: Amanda has spelled out several excellent ideas for good parenting to single Mormon adults. These same principles apply if you have single adult ward members or single adult friends. These missteps really do happen! (ie: couch sleeping, kids tables, invasive questions on dating, strange advice on marriage that might have applied years ago, awkward family picture moments, and even ignoring.) Hoping that when we all know better – we do better.
I’ll begin succinctly: Don’t treat a single adult differently than your other children.
You may not intend to; I hope you don’t intend to; but it is not unusual for single adults to be given an “other” status in their own families as much as they are given one at church. Here are a few things to keep in mind that may help keep your interactions with your single child in balance:
- Be aware of accommodations you make for the spouses of your children that put the single adult in a less-than desirable place. I understand the instinct to give more privacy to the marrieds, but if it is really fair to expect the single adult to always take the couch/backseat/kid’s table? (Yes, kid’s table. It happens.)
- Don’t assume that their schedule is more flexible/less important than everyone else’s schedules. Yes, it is easier when there’s only one person’s time to account for; but please remember the toll it takes to always be the one who accommodates everyone else.
- Be careful with the lure of grandchildren. By all means be outstanding, present, supportive, loving grandparents; but please recognize that the single child may be left out. Do you visit the single child as much as the ones with grandkids? Do you see the single child in his/her home, or do they only see you when they join you at the married’s house? When the family gets together, is it all about the babies and the recitals and what the kids want to do, or is there time for the adults to be adults?
- Take an interest in their interests. Find out what your single child is doing and then learn about it yourself! Just as you might bone up on the latest Pixar release to talk to your grandkids, keep up with your single child’s hobbies, interests, and career.
- Acknowledge that the older your child gets, your personal experience with singleness loses relevance.
- Talk to your single child. Rather than focusing on what’s not happening, focus on what is happening. This doesn’t mean that talking about dating is completely taboo; it can be just as annoying to have your parents avoid that subject altogether. Just be aware of the balance of topics in your conversations and make sure that you acknowledge everything your single adult is rather than what he/she is not.
- Understand that it is challenging to be single in this church, which means your single adult might have doubts, ask questions, or feel like he/she just doesn’t fit in as a Mormon anymore. Don’t freak out about this or rush in to “fix” things. Listen to your child; hear his/her perspective.
- Remember that marriage doesn’t fix everything. Your child can have a full, enriching, fascinating, and worthwhile as a single adult. Love them, support them, listen to them, and please just make sure they know that they are enough, just as they are.
Amanda Waterhouse teaches theater and a whole lot more in a high school outside of Denver. She loves traveling, Michelin restaurants, Marvel movies, and the Oxford comma.