Midlife Mom

Navigating the teen years… and beyond

The health care learning curve

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Sometimes I wish my kids were still little. Parenting challenges, in my opinion, seem to grow as they age.

Have your grown children learned to navigate their own health care, for example? And how is that learning process going? Remember the days when you used to call their doctor, get needed questions answered and figure out what steps to take?

That ends once they’re 18, of course, although for my family there seemed to be some leeway during the college years. It’s after they’re out, when they’re 22 or 23 and are no longer under your roof, that things get more dicey. The goal, obviously, is for them to learn to take the lead — to know their bodies and when something is wrong, and to advocate for themselves in the confusing and daunting world of medicine, insurance and co-pays.

Of course, I’m talking about standard health care — dealing with illness, infection and other issues that prompt the need for a doctor visit (or a trip to the urgent care center). Severe emergency circumstances, mental health issues or any type of disability are a different matter entirely — and a much bigger challenge (and worry) for parents of adult children.

As a parent, our children’s health and safety is a top priority. It’s hard to shut that down when they get older and have to be in charge of it themselves.

We can offer advice, but we have to step back and let our adult kids learn to handle it.

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