Seeing the Circle with Adult Children

I attended a Circle of Security Parenting training as a professional – my interest was in deepening my work with young families and supporting new parents. I never dreamed it would give me such new perspective on my relationship with my own adult children.
illustration of various adult children
I’ve been feeling frustrated with my 20-year-old daughter. It feels like she doesn’t want to do things on her own – she’s always asking for help. This week she was applying for college and instead of getting her application done, she was following me around the house, repeatedly asking me what to write, how to do it, when I would be free to help her write it.

Normally, this kind of thing ends up in a big fight with me yelling something like “I’m not going to do it for you – you need to stand on your own two feet!”

But, having the COSP training fresh in my mind, I had a new perspective. I know applying to college is scary for her – she’s on the Bottom of the Circle, feeling nervous and unsure. Instead of pushing her to “get on with it,” I stopped and sat down with her. I said something like, “College applications are really nerve-wracking, especially when it’s something you really care about.” She quickly began to talk about the college and her fears of not being accepted. She talked about how other students have been worried and some who she thought for sure would not have any problems were not admitted. It felt pretty good to get to hear her internal thoughts and feelings – to have her let me in a bit.

I focused on listening and trying not to offer advice or solutions. Recalling my own experience of applying to college (and missing out on my first choice!) I acknowledged the vulnerability of putting yourself forward and the disappointment of not making the cut.

Later that night as I went to bed, I found her still awake in her room putting the finishing touches on her application. She still felt nervous, but said she felt like she had put her best foot forward. And, as it turns out, so too had I.

I invite you to share with me your comments, reflections, Circle stories and experiences with Circle of Security Parenting. Your submissions may be used in future blog posts, with all identifying information excluded, unless you specifically request to be identified. Contact me at brooke[at]circleofsecurityinternational[dot]com.