About Parent of Adults by Asha Dornfest

This newsletter is my invitation to keep each other company during the longest, weirdest, and most surprising phase of parenting, also known as THE REST OF OUR LIVES.

After my kids grew up and moved out, I figured there’d be some temporary “empty nest” bumpiness followed by the gradual settling into a new normal. But there is no normal in today’s murky world, is there? At least, not that I can see right now.

The stable landmarks I’ve always relied on to situate myself — my friendships, marriage, family relationships, routines, priorities, health, social assumptions, sense of purpose — are shifting in ways I’m just beginning to grasp.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled with my kids’ departures. I miss them, sure, but I love the adults they’ve become and we’re all enjoying the breathing room. It’s just that the scale of change is daunting. It’s definitely humbling. But I’m discovering it’s also freeing. Joyful, even.

We’ve all done this long enough to know there are no definitive answers or guarantees, just the stories from folks muddling along nearby. My hope is that by telling my stories and listening to yours, we can help each other see through the fog of this next part of the journey. We might stumble onto something we wouldn’t have discovered on our own. Or maybe we’ll just shake our heads at the wackiness of it all.

What you can expect here

I’ll share my thoughts on things I think are helpful or interesting or important from my vantage point as a parent of adults. Practical things, esoteric things, funny things. This isn’t so much about “parenting” as it is about living.

We’ll laugh and wonder and nod our heads in recognition and cheer each other on. I tend to go deep so there might be some big sighs, too, but I’ll try not to dwell in the depths all the time.

There will be regular opportunities to interact as a group. If you feel like chiming in, wonderful, but there’s no pressure to do that. I’m thinking crowdsourced Q&As, but I’m not yet sure how that will work. I trust we’ll work out what feels right.

I’ll also send out very-occasional writerly updates (news, events, press, stuff of that sort) so you know what I’m up to in the world and what goes on “behind” the work.

I hope, as we make our way through our days, this newsletter will be a soft place to land, a source of calm and sanity (and some laughs) in an unfamiliar, uncertain world.

All parents and non-parents are welcome.

About Asha Dornfest

Photo of Asha Dornfest

I’m a writer living in Portland, Oregon, US. I’m the mother of two adults and have been married to my husband for 29 years. You might know me as the creator of the Parent Hacks blog which I started in 2005 when my kids were six and two. Or you might know me as the author of PARENT HACKS (Workman, 2016) or co-author, with Christine Koh, of MINIMALIST PARENTING (Routledge, 2013). You might have gotten to know me through my conversations with Christine on the Edit Your Life podcast (we co-hosted the show from 2016-2021). Perhaps you saw me on the long-ago video series Momversation (people still mention it!). Maybe we’re Portland friends or you read one of my tech books during the 90s, or we went to college together, or elementary school!

There’s plenty more I could tell you (visit my website if you’re curious), but for our purposes these are the most important things to know about me:

  • I really like people. I believe most people are good, or at least they’re trying. My definition of “good” is pretty expansive and makes room for changes of heart and mistakes. That said, I have boundaries. I assume the best but don’t tolerate bad faith in my life or my Internet hangouts.

  • I know without a doubt that humane, joy-inducing spaces on the Internet can exist because I’ve created more than one. I’ve facilitated online communities of thousands over multiple years, and not just during the Internet’s golden era before social media.

  • I’m comfortable learning in public. I find other peoples’ ideas fascinating, usually more than my own. I’m interested in real and nuance and growth. I’m confident in my values and opinions but I’m not particularly attached to being right (or even cool), so I’m okay when folks don’t agree with me or point out when I mess up.

  • I’m stubbornly glad. I find hope in unlikely places. I think skepticism is healthy but cynicism is corrosive. I believe the bravest thing we can do is to keep going.

  • I love nature, gardening, coffee with half & half, dogs (and cats, who am I kidding, I love all animals, okay, except mosquitos), travel, libraries, walking, goofy emojis, cooking, MY PEOPLE (family, friends, teachers, therapists, co-workers, kind and brave strangers, I love them so much), books, teenagers and young adults, exclamation points, picnics, 80s music, city skylines, free stuff on the curb, art, Portland, a well-placed curse word, and many other things I’m forgetting to list. I want to get better at listening to new music, wearing more stylish clothes, and not letting my mail pile up. I’m not easily embarrassed. I’m quick to apologize, and I’m getting better at knowing when I don’t need to apologize. I rarely finish a glass of wine and never know what to order at a bar. I fall asleep so quickly it alarms people. I use she/her pronouns. I’m highly enthusiastic about the stuff I love, unabashedly philosophical, prone to intense moments of grief and joy, well-intentioned but annoyingly inconsistent at times, fierce at times, scared-but-doing-it-anyway, and trying to take things less seriously even though everything feels deadly serious right now. My favorite pie is cherry pie. And oh my God I love my kids, who are now adults. I really hope they subscribe to this newsletter.

What’s the difference between a free and paid subscription?

Parent of Adults is a reader-supported newsletter, with both free and paid subscription options.

Free subscribers receive all posts in their inboxes. This newsletter is free to read which means both free- and paid subscribers read the same things. I have no plans for paywalls on posts.

Paid subscribers receive all posts in their inboxes plus gain access to community features: posting comments, participating in discussion, and replying privately to posts via email that goes directly to me.

There are three levels of paid subscription starting as low as $3/month. You can switch between free and paid subscription or cancel at any time for a prorated refund with no questions asked, no hard feelings, and an open invitation to come back.

You can also gift a subscription to a friend.

Why I charge for community features

I’ve structured newsletter subscriptions the way I have (free content, paid community) for three reasons.

1. I’m creating a “protected public” space

For many years I’ve loved being able to publish stuff on the Internet and then take part in the conversation that came out of it. But as time passed, I, my family, the Internet, and the world changed, and I felt a growing tension around how and where to show up online. I found myself needing two things that seemed in opposition: clearer boundaries — between both public/private and professional/personal — and an online “place” to interact as a writer and multifaceted human being. This newsletter is my solution.

The “turnstyle” at the entry of Parent of Adults — a request for subscription — gives you a moment to decide if you want to come into this “protected public” space. Subscription is a handshake agreement of sorts: I commit to maintaining a friendly space for us to talk and listen, and you commit to bringing your unique perspective, open-minded spirit, and kindness.

2. I’m valuing the work of community creation

I’ve placed a second turnstyle — a request for paid subscription — at the entry of this newsletter’s community features: comments, discussions, and replies. This second level of exchange — not just your email address, but dollars! — is important for a couple reasons.

First, I’m placing concrete value on the time, skill, and labor I put into building and maintaining a high-quality online space. This is my work.

Second, paid subscription gives you a way to invest in a community you’re part of creating. The more invested we are in something, the more we tend to care for it.

3. I’m building a model for reader-supported creative work

Parent of Adults is an independent creative project I hope will eventually become self-sustaining. I don’t accept advertising, sponsors, or marketing pitches. My plan is for paid subscriptions and (to a lesser extent) affiliate commissions to cover the costs of running this newsletter (hosting, labor, hardware, etc.).

That said, there’s no pressure to pay. Free subscriptions are a crucial form of support; they give this newsletter new ways to be found.

About affiliate commissions, here’s how they work: If I talk about products, I’ll use affiliate links to those products whenever possible. If you buy through those links, the seller pays me a small percentage of the purchase price at no cost to you. I’ll only link to products I’ve used and purchased myself and can wholeheartedly recommend. Affiliate commissions are a nice supplement to paid subscriptions, but are not a focus of this newsletter.

Ready to subscribe?

Thanks for reading this extremely long About page. I hope you’ll join us here.