As your child grows into a young adult, things change. Your son is growing into manhood and he needs you to grow with him. Your daughter is becoming a woman and she needs you to acknowledge it.
I tell you this can be easier said than done. It will take effort on your part. I remember when my son was ready to catch public transportation in the Washington DC metropolitan area all by himself. He gave me a pep talk. He told me, “Mom, I will be just fine. I got this.” He was ready; I was not.
It happened again with my daughter. She went to a foreign country by herself. She bought her plane ticket, made hotel reservations, and arranged for transportation. She was ready and she did it. I was not ready.
Allow the bond between you to begin its metamorphosis.
You see your child is doing exactly what you taught them to do, be independent. They are spreading their wings, making decisions, and learning from their choices. Parenting a young adult means your child is changing and you have to change too. Here are 4 guidelines for parenting young adults that will come in handy as you make this transition.
Remember they are still growing but think they are grown.
You know your child is still in the growing phase. They think they know much more than they really do; just like most of us did at their age. Allow your child to make decisions without interfering when it is appropriate.
Teach them to advocate for themselves at home and at school. Intervene only when necessary. Give them opportunity to voice their opinion and instruct where needed.
Give advice with no strings attached.
Young adults still need your wisdom. Offer it with no strings attached. Leave out the, “I told you so” and “see if you had only listened to me” comments. Offer advice, explain the consequence and outcome of choices made.
No strings attached – meaning you are not mad at them if they didn’t take your advice. Advice is a recommendation, not a mandate. If you are giving advice let it be just that. If it’s a time where you must mandate your child do certain things then do that. However, don’t confuse advice and mandates.
Allow your relationship with your child to transform.
Allow the bond between you to begin its metamorphosis. In time it will transform into a parent/child relationship between two adults.
Your love doesn’t change. The way you relate to one another does. You may even develop a friendship along the way. However, remember you are the parent not the best friend.
Be honest about your feelings.
Of course I wanted my children to grow and become responsible adults. Yet, with this came a few things I was not ready for. Things like:
- They don’t need me around as much.
- They tell me about the decisions they made after they made them.
- They live their own lives without my assistance.
That was hard stuff. Be honest about your feelings. Tell your child when it’s not them but you who is having a hard time letting go. They will understand.
If your child is not at this phase yet, print this article and save it for when the time comes. The time is coming and will be here before you know it. My husband and I lived through having 3 young adults at one time. We made it, and so will you.
BMWK readers, what advice do you have for parents of young adults?