Parenting Invincible Young Adults

By Lisa Batten Kunkleman


Parenting young adult children is a whole new experience. If you think parenting and protecting children from birth through the teen years is tough, look out for the twenties.There’s a huge difference between being invincible at twenty and cautious at mid-life. I’m definitely in the cautious at mid-life stage when it comes to my kids.


I recently wrote about my youngest son, Sam, shattering his kneecap, after falling full-weight on his knee, when a door frame pull-up bar collapsed. Since then, he’s had his first of who knows how many surgeries. His knee is now wired together.


After a long, painful process to become as mobile as he is currently, he is allowed to put weight on that leg. That means he’s moved from wheelchair to crutches to what the doctor calls peg-legging around his college campus. He still can’t bend his knee although his brace can be adjusted for bending further as his scar tissue breaks down and allows for more movement. He’s in physical therapy to speed up the bending process.


I set the scene because I’m sharing a video clip that boggles my brain and that of several of my fellow parents. Sam loves climbing, perhaps more than anything. When he was home from college recently, he walked by me and said, “Mom, I’m going to climb a tree.”
I think, He’s such a kidder. I went along with him saying, “Ok. Have fun.” Out the door he went.


Did I realize who I was talking to? Thinking one of my daredevils was joking. Nope. He was serious. While I went on about my business, Sam’s father took out his cell phone and followed him, assuming Sam might be serious and therefor planning to be nearby if anything exciting happened. Good plan, as Sam used only his upper body and arm strength to climb a rope he’s climbed too many times to count, up into the tree. Then he swung limb to limb to get down to a low enough height to drop. I only knew about this later when I watched the video.

Remember, he’s twenty. Not an easy age to put in time out for doing something dangerous. Since showing different people the video, opinions are split, smack dab down the age continuum.


Fully grown, older sensible, cautious adults said things like, “Wasn’t he afraid he’d get hurt?” or “Oh my gosh, ya’ll could have been starting all over. Weren’t you terrified?”


I said, “What if his hand got a cramp or like his brother and sister, what if his shoulder popped out?” (His triplet sister, Sarah, is also in physical therapy to tighten up a formerly dislocated shoulder. See her in the photo above and note I’m wearing my orthopedic boot. Our Christmas picture? No. Refer back to blog posts: “Of Course I’m Wearing an Immobilizing Boot. Isn’t Everybody?” or “Mom, Where should The Ambulance Take Me?” if you need a refresher.)


Young adults, being his friends and siblings, said, “Go, Sam!” or “That’s so cool.” Or, “Don’t worry Mom. Sam’s smart and super strong and he’d never do anything to hurt himself. He knows what he’s doing.”


Those words came from his triplet brother, Joe, also obviously age twenty, who acts like a stunt man himself much of the time doing crazy flips and jumps. Joe is currently wearing a sling and is in physical therapy also, since his shoulder surgery to prevent further dislocation. He’s away at college too, so all I can do is pray he’s wearing his sling and playing video games to stay occupied and safe.


Parenting young adults is a whole new ballgame. Part of that empty nest phase where you realize you are not in control when they’re away. Oh my. Be still my heart.

32 thoughts on “Parenting Invincible Young Adults

  1. Younger people heal fast and feel they’re invincible. You have to just let them find their way, as hard as it is! And if you think 20’s are hard, wait til the 30s!

  2. Despite the sling, cast, boots and crutches, what a great photo, Lisa! You should do an ad for Ortho Carolina. Well, obviously your son likes to climb. I suppose there’s worse things he could be doing. Can you put a net under the tree? 🙂

  3. That’s great that they’re full of energy and won’t let anything stop them from enjoying life. They could be leading a careful life and still injure themselves. My older son tore his ACL while dancing at a party. My younger one was walking down the stairs (well, slippery stone stairs to a cave) and fell down and broke his shoulder. But both of them have not let that stop them from having fun.

    • Yes it is. I’ve learned to peek through my fingers watching them half the time. Ironically Joes shoulder cane out doing pull-ups too. What are the chances that both boys at two separate campuses would get hurt doing such a tame activity. He dangerous activities are not the ones that injured them. Gavin a fear of heights myself I’ve always worried when they were five stories up in the tallest trees. Or rock climbing. Our daughter’s shoulder popes out while she was driving and making a sharp curve.

  4. oh dear me – I had to laugh looking at all of you – each with something amiss :). gotta love life’s adventures. Embrace it! <3

    • Embrace it is a good plan. May as well. Gotta go through it because it takes too long to go around it. That is living in a bubble and never moving. It’s all good. Learning experiences for sure.

  5. The most dangerous words in the English language are “Watch this” and “Hold my beer”.

  6. What a family portrait! The Walking Wounded, is it? I can only imagine what you must imagine your kids are up to when they’re away. Looking back, I think – and maybe you do, too – of the stupid stuff we did while away at college (I was in NYC – soooo many opportunities!) and even while home, and the worries me no doubt gave our parents. Kind of like a rite of passage, I suppose.
    It seems they manage it well. 🙂

    • Oh yes, we did do stupid things, and yet survived. At least now we have cell phones to check in now and then in pretty remote dangerous/fun locations. That’s some bit of comfort.

  7. p.s. and the kitchen looks fabulous – Congratulations! (as does that cake. Mmmmm.)

  8. In a few months, you’ll never even remember the disaster it took to get there. It truly looks stunning.

  9. Thanks for stopping by our blog, “Empty Nesters on a Green Global Trek” and for your positive comments. I am stopping by to see what you are up to….. look forward to reading you.

    I have to say I am impressed by your sons determination and persistence. Good life skills to have! He is not sitting at home feeling sorry for himself, quite the contrary!

    When the youngest of our 4 boys finished high school, we “bailed”. Moved to Nicaragua, Central America, where we had built a small home a few years before ~ this became our primary home. I missed a lot of their early twenties as a result, (we were busy starting a bamboo low cost houses for indigenous people who had lost them years before in a hurricane) in many ways I think it was a gift for them…forcing them to be self sufficient and inependant without their mom hovering over them. And I was pretty happy to take a break after the intense job of parenting through the early years and then high school. I think it took me about five years just to catch up on sleep 🙂

    Love your family portrait! Here’s to good health and no broken limbs in 2017.


  10. Can’t keep them down I guess, Yes, resilience and determination must count for something. Thanks for the follow. Nice to meet you here.

  11. Thanks for reinforcing parenting is always a challenge.

  12. Seriously you guys! That picture of all of you 🙂 I could join right in! Happy healing to all!

  13. Love it! Totally a Sam move

  14. Haha Lisa!!!

    Great picture! I can’t wait until our 3 boys enter the daredevil stage. From the looks of your cover picture, I better consider upping my insurance coverage! 😀


    • I’m so glad you read that one. And it didn’t scare you away. To continue the saga, Sam who will have his second of three knee surgeries in a few weeks, went on a 12 mile backpacking trip two weeks ago and climbed Mt Mitchell. A big deal mountain in NC. Then applied and got a job at the US National Whitewater Center as a high ropes course leader and this weekend is camping on, Wait for it…Copperhead Island getting further outdoor adventure leadership training. I really hope the name doesn’t imply lots of copperheads live there. I could go on about the other son’s adventures but maybe I should put it all in a blog. Yep. Insurance is very important.

      • Wow, that is awesome that they are so active! Congratulations – you should be one proud mama.

        With all of his outdoor training experience – hopefully Sam doesn’t get any wild and crazy ideas to go on that TV show “Naked and Afraid”. Hahahahaha….

        • Well funny how I never thought of that possibility. Thanks. For the idea. He’s a biomedical engineering major and outdoor adventure leadership minor. Go figure. Guess you can tell where his passion lies. Ha. Naked. Hmmm

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