What’s required?

I explained to Mary Elizabeth, my college-student daughter, that her dad and I were going to a Sunday School brunch and then church services on Easter Sunday. “You’re welcome to come with us,” I told her.

“Am I required to go?” she asked.

I paused a moment and then smiled. “We would like for you to go with us,” I said.

That was the wrong answer. When my son and daughter were children, they were required to go to church on Sunday. They didn’t have a choice. Now, though, they are both independent adults. They need to decide for themselves whether or not they’re going to church.

Later, I told my daughter, “We would like to see you on Easter Sunday, but it’s not required that you go to church with us. You can go to church with us, or you can come later in the day and have dinner with us.”

Or, as my husbanded added, “If you want, you can spend the whole day with us.”

Mary Elizabeth, who is a busy graduate student, responded: “I’ll probably spend half the day with you. I’ll check my schedule and let you know when I’m coming.”

Mary Elizabeth has good boundaries, and her dad and I need to respect them. Like other parents, we  sometimes find it difficult to treat our adult children as separate people with their own lives and to let them make their own decisions.


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