Parenting doesn't end at 18. I have uttered that line more times this year than I can count. I speak not from any authority as a parent (I'm less than five years in, for pete's sake), but rather from the perspective of somebody's daughter. It makes my heart hurt when I see people forget how much their children, even when grown, need them.
I said it today when talking to a lady whose kids currently resent her for leaving her husband and moving out. They didn't want to move with her due to the last couple of years in the school district. She thinks that, since they're mad anyway, she should just say, "To hell with it," and move wherever she wants -- California even. "Don't leave those girls," I begged. "Please don't make it worse."
I said it to a couple who stopped by my house to encourage me to become active again in the religion of my childhood. I expressed one of my primary complaints with a specific policy towards adult children who are dis.fel.low.shipped. Why should the level of contact differ between children under 18 and adult children? You've only done 18 years of parenting thus far. Some of the hardest years may be yet to come. Trust.
I said it to the guy I was seeing, whose eldest son, aside from being a typical teen, is also still confused and hurt by his parents' breakup. "You can't pull away from him just because he's pulling away from you." This will pass... if you don't fuck it up and make it worse. And some of the best years may be still to come. Trust.
I learned this valuable lesson from my own father. We had a loving relationship growing up, but we were not very close. Though my parents were married most of my childhood, he was simply not present in my life. Once they divorced, I went through a period of hating him, and hate is not too strong of a word. But he hung in there, refusing to write me off just because I was grown and ornery towards him. And I never forgot that. Eventually our relationship healed, and now it is often the envy of my friends who jokingly ask to "borrow" my dad for some adult parenting. I am so, so glad that he knew that parenting doesn't end at 18. Now, some 15 years past the threshold of adulthood, I have endured some of my hardest years, and his guidance and love have led to some of our best years.