A lot of parents have welcomed their adult children back home. This is not always a joyous moment for some parents. Friends of mine, Jim and Liz, have a son, now 22, who is extremely bright but who found college unstimulating. He was dismissed for not showing up for most of his classes, a fact the school did not share with his parents because of privacy laws for people over the age of 18. After spending a small fortune on tuition for a year, he went home, tail between his legs and depressed.
Most parents would have understood, sympathized and soothed the young man but then might have labeled him a “problem,” and even may have held a grudge against the kid. Jim and his wife, Liz, were sorely tempted to so react. Short term they laid down ground rules about keeping his room clean and finding some kind of job. Long term, they didn’t have a clue.
I was very proud of Jim and Liz because they consciously did the most difficult thing: they waited. Now three years later, the young man has decided to join the military, not as a default option but as something he really wants to do, where he might find focus, career interests and training to move forward with his life. The wait seems to have been worth it. The young man needed the greatest gift, time, to find himself and establish some life-goals. In co-active coaching terms, his being and doing needed time to converge for him to develop a vision for his future.
What about us adults? Don’t we sometimes get to the point of feeling like that young man? We lose a job. A career dead-ends. A divorce looms. A spouse dies. We are confronted with our vulnerability and either can face it with fierce courage or avoid it.
Society and family often tell us to hurry up and resolve the issue. “Time’s a-wastin’!” is the voice inside our heads. Yet we may need to put on the brakes and just wait, as painful and uncertain as that can be, until we get clarity.
A co-active coach could be a great resource in holding the space we need to discover our new being and our new doing. There’s no sense in precipitous action for its own sake. No matter how old we get, we’re really not that far from our adolescence.
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