I certainly don't want to sound ominous with this title. The reality of being a parent to an adult child can be so gratifying, and that relationship can be refreshing, as well as the subsequent respective relationship with their (potential) grandchildren. That reality is the one we presume as our child matures and develops. Because of their success personally and professionally; their functional independence; and the mutual respect and investment in furthering a friendship between now adult children and older parents.
Additionally, in that relationship, there is an acknowledgment from each that the parents contributed to that success. That the parents positively affected the child's mental, physical, emotional and financial state. Which causes the adult children to look forward to sharing their achievements. Which causes the parents to glow with pride because of not only what the child did, but privately knowing they helped them get there.
I want that scenario with my kids (and it is coming to fruition, though they are still young adults); because I am an adult child of parents who can feel that way themselves - so, I can easily envision it.
Yet still, I intentionally choose "sobering." In part because I see too many instances where the described scenario does not play out that way. The child's transition to adulthood is painful because they feel they are not quite prepared for what it entails (and in too many instances, are not). And the young adult is not getting encouragement or counsel from a known source whose unquestioned motive is their success. Or, the child views their negatives as a direct result of what their parents didn't do. And these are the relatively tame "less than ideal realities," the more extreme are where abuse, alcoholism or drugs are involved.
I use the phrase "because of or in spite of" to caveat how a young adults "success or failure" is attributed to their parents. It is an art to gauge which applies, but the parent knows (upon reflection) and the child believes one or the other applies.
My prayer is the parent and child both view their lives together as a time that fostered growth and enabled the respective child to reach their full potential. And I truly believe that if parents recognize that their journey is a strategic, multi-decade endeavor with a multi-generational impact then each will invest in long-range planning - and the "because of" will be more common than "in spite of."