When You and Your Kids Attend The Same Marriage Retreat

Two weeks ago Tom and I went to our first marriage retreat since moving to Texas. The timing was right

– while the retreat fell on our 28th anniversary, five months of transition have shown us a few things we need to fine tune.

The kicker of the weekend, though, was that our son and his wife of 12 days were there too! A first for us – to attend a marriage retreat with our kids! Wow! That possibility had never crossed my mind! Someone asked if we felt awkward. Tom didn’t, but I will admit that when the speaker said “wives, there is just one thing you need to do to put a smile on your husband’s face” – well, it boggled my mind just a bit…

Nick and Josie took us out for dinner on Saturday evening to celebrate our wedding anniversary. We felt honored they wanted to spend time with us (they had several friend couples at the retreat they could have chosen to go out with – or just be alone – it was still their honeymoon…).

During dinner, they regaled us with stories from their honeymoon and showed us lots and lots of photos.

It was incredible. They had us belly laughing at a few of their stories. They were open and honest and vulnerable in ways I never expected of my adult kids. I just never dreamed I would be so blessed!

Nick and Josie on their special day!

It made me think more about something I’ve been pondering over the past year since Kati and Jordan got married. What do I do with all the personal stories and comments they share?

To be honest, I can’t tell you how many times I have been tempted to share some of the sweet, funny, honest things my now married adult children have said to me. (And I can’t say I haven’t blown it and said things to my friends I shouldn’t have.) The more I think about it, the more I believe that it’s wrong or at least unwise…but here’s the problem I face…

When Nick and Kati were growing up, they said some of the funniest, sweetest, most honest things and I loved telling stories about them. I laughed with other family members and friends about silly mistakes they made or funny comments they made and even about crazy times that they were stubborn and did the exact opposite of whatever we said.

My friends told us their stories, too. It was normal and expected, and it was part of building memories.

But Nick and Josie and Kati and Jordan are not children anymore.

  Sure, t

hey are our kids, but they aren’t kids – you get my meaning.

I’ve thought about this concept a lot since Nick and Kati left home. There have been so many firsts for them. First time living away from home, first time dating, first time traveling alone, first time figuring out a budget, first time trying to resolve conflicts with roommates, first time trying to find their way around new cities, first jobs and first time paying their own bills…the list is really long.

Along the way, funny things have happened.

Nick and Kati have shared endearing stories. They have had a few tough times, and we have had many really deep, heart to heart conversations.

To be totally honest, just like when they were small children, I still think that a lot of what they do and say is sweet and funny and do I dare say it…CUTE.

They trust me enough to be open and honest and vulnerable. That means the world to me. I want to honor that trust. As funny or sweet or cute as these things are to my mom-heart, I need to preserve their dignity and keep those funny, sweet, cute and sometimes difficult conversations to myself.

At the same time, I wrestle with how to balance maintaining their privacy and getting help when I don’t know what to do or advise as they go through new life experiences. Sometimes I need help with my own struggles, thoughts, fears or angst along the way. Sometimes I need a good friend to help me bear the burden of a difficult situation. My kids know and understand that. During a recent challenging time, one of them told me this…”I don’t care if you talk about me right now, but please, don’t do it when I’m around.”

Point taken. It’s okay for us to have an advisor, just be sensitive to their feelings…

Good friends are careful that way.

They are gentle with your heart. They don’t share your news or share your dirt. Good friends keep a confidence. At the same time, good friends seek help for you when you are in trouble.

More than anything I want to be a good friend to my adult kids. I want to be a safe place for them. I want them to feel respected.

I keep thinking about Mary and Jesus. How many times does scripture tell us that “she stored these things in her heart.“ I can’t imagine all the private moments Mary experienced with Jesus in the years before he began his ministry. Or what private conversations he might have had with his mother over the years. God doesn’t let us know a lot.

I wonder if he

did that on purpose?

Both of our children and their spouses have shared things that have touched us by their vulnerability. They have asked for help and let us be a part of their lives as they have journeyed through these and other firsts. My goal is to keep their trust so that we continue to share an ever growing and deep friendship because I can’t think of anything better in this life than that!!!