If you’re the mother of an adult child who just got married, you’re probably sorting through a mix of emotions. As moms ourselves, WE GET IT.
On one hand, you (probably) knew this day would come.
Maybe you’ve been involved in the wedding planning for months, relishing the fact that your adult child is happy and in love and eager to start their own family. Perhaps you’re excited at the prospect of grandchildren someday or are just proud that you’ve raised a human who feels ready to explore life with a partner.
But on the flip side, there might be a tiny part of you that’s sad to let go.
After all, you’ve spent a good portion of your life taking care of this person’s needs. Sure, you changed their diapers and made sure they ate their vegetables and brushed their teeth. But it wasn’t just about the caretaking; it was about the connection, the mother-child bond. It was you who helped ensure that not only their physical needs were met, but also their social, mental, and emotional needs. You may have helped them through the trials and tribulations of elementary school bullies, messy middle school friendships, or bad breakups in high school and beyond. Or perhaps you supported them through serious challenges with anxiety, depression, or learning struggles. For some parents, the experiences of parenting may have been amplified by chronic illnesses, traumatic events, or unique circumstances that left your child or teen feeling invisible or targeted.
But you were there for them.
You may also be dealing with triggers of your own around marriage, divorce, or abandonment, or simply feel that you’re being “left behind” with an empty nest.
And while understanding the “whys” of your emotions can certainly help you approach this major life change, for now, it’s enough that you recognize them. Because it’s not only common for even the best parents to have a tiny bit of sadness when they’re child gets married, but it can actually help you just by admitting to yourself that two seemingly opposite emotions can occur simultaneously: You can be happy for your child who just got married and sad that things are changing.
So how do we find joy in this new phase of life?
We recognize that the best is yet to come. For our newly married child, for our relationship with them, and for ourselves. Because while being a parent is arguably one of the hardest jobs on earth, it can also be one of the most rewarding. And your responsibilities as a mom just pruned themselves! Now you can focus on building an even deeper relationship—including a true friendship—with your adult child.
Looking for tangible advice as you transition to this new phase of motherhood? Consider these approaches.
#1: Consider therapy.
Among the many ways counseling can help as you navigate new feelings is by helping you identify your own sources of happiness outside ANY relationship. Because being someone’s mother (or wife, daughter, sister, employee, boss) is a role, not an all-inclusive definition of who you are.
#2: Look for opportunities to not only connect with your adult child, but also their spouse.
The dynamics of relationships are going to change regardless; think of the marriage as gaining a new member of the family, not losing one.
#3: Remind yourself that independence was an end goal when you were raising your child.
You helped raise someone who feels mature and supported enough to venture out into adulthood. Pat yourself on the back!
#4: Respect their boundaries by asking the right questions.
If your adult child opens up to you about challenges of their relationship down the road, use it as an opportunity to ask, “Are you looking for support or solutions?” before offering unsolicited advice.
#5: Start new traditions.
Welcoming your adult child’s partner to join you in family traditions is a lovely gesture but be sure to consider that they may also have their own family traditions. This means not only staying flexible as you schedule family gatherings or trips (think: alternating in-laws on Thanksgiving), but also having an open discussion about any traditions that the newlyweds may want to start for their OWN family.
Want to feel connected to other moms who understand?
Check out this short segment from the hosts of The Brainy Moms podcast as one of our own, Teri Miller, discusses her feelings about her son getting married. You may want to grab a tissue first! It’s a true sisterhood moment for moms.