This Parenting Transition is Hard for Everyone – But It’s Part Of a Beautiful Journey

Photo by Irina Murza on Unsplash

When we’re younger – with young children – we get so caught up in the busyness and routine, that we sometimes don’t realize how quickly time passes.

They grow up before we know it, and then we start to feel a sadness that there will come a time when they don’t need us as much anymore.

Well, the good news is, while our kids will become independent, we never stop parenting – and we’ve got some tips to help you make the transition.

This is a wonderful new phase of parenting – getting to see all that hard work and devotion pay off as you see your child turn into an adult.

They’ll ask for advice; they’ll probably ask for money from time to time; most of all, they’ll ask (maybe not directly) that you continue to be there to listen and offer support.

The first thing to understand about parenting an adult child is that we are no longer in charge.  It is time for them to make their own decisions – and mistakes.  And it’s not always easy to watch when we’d like them to follow a different path.

Respect the changes and struggles that they are going through, and don’t interfere or be critical.

We have all gone through trying to find our way, and it helps to remember the joys and difficulties we encountered along the way.

As hard as it may be, we must allow them to make mistakes – even fail – on the journey to maturity.

Having said that, it’s a good idea to share your own experiences – good or bad, what worked for you and what didn’t – and allow them to use those stories to put their experiences into perspective.

Keep discussions open and positive, just like when they were young.  This helps foster a relationship of communication.  If you become critical or judgmental of their adult choices, they may push you away.

It’s about empathy and knowing they are not alone.

Establish boundaries with your adult children – in a positive way.

If you feel they still depend on you to do things for them – making appointments, doing laundry, loaning them money – a gentle push toward further independence may be needed.

Encourage them to try different approaches when they are struggling to find their way.  Taking risks in order to reach a goal isn’t a bad thing.

One of the most difficult relationships parents can have with an adult child is when that child still lives at home.

Maybe they couldn’t afford to live on their own after getting their first apartment, so they moved back home.  Maybe they came back home after college to get on their feet while applying for jobs.

Or maybe they just weren’t ready to move out after high school.

The key is making sure you are being supportive without enabling.  They may still need a little help, but it’s also important to push them a little.

Make sure they are employed, taking classes, or otherwise actively working to get settled on their own.

It’s a very personal decision whether or not to charge adult children rent, but it certainly helps them to become more independent when they are asked to contribute to some household bills.

And don’t forget – they are perfectly capable of doing their own laundry and other chores at this point!

If you find there is more conflict in the family when an adult child is living at home, especially if it is affecting your parent/child relationship or your marriage, don’t hesitate to get some help from friends – or even a professional – who has been there.

Keeping your routine and implementing the household rules just like you did when they were children is also a great way to stay on track.

Sure, they may no longer have a curfew, but they also can’t bring ten people over to hang out at two in the morning.

On the other hand, just as you did when they were young, make room in your home and at your family events for their friends, coworkers, or significant others.  This will help them grow outside relationships in their new adult world.

It is hard to say goodbye to our kids’ childhoods, but it is vital for their success.

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If they live at home, make sure the ground rules are understood ahead of time.  It’s hard for parents – especially moms – to say no to our kids when they need us, but we must nudge them in the right direction.

If you do encounter conflict, or even major family upheaval, when an adult child lives at home, you may need to re-evaluate the living arrangement.

If they flat-out refuse to help around the house, contribute to bills, work or go to school, it may be time for some tough love.

This may involve some sort of formal written arrangement or even help from a counselor in finding a workable solution.

It can be tough to make it these days, but enabling our adult children isn’t going to help anyone.

Above all, if you have established a good routine with your adult child and you see they are well on their way to being a healthy and thriving adult, enjoy this time together.

It’s a different kind of parent/child relationship, but no less special.

You’ll find you still like to do many of the things you used to do together.  You’ll enjoy helping them pick out their first place and furnishing it.  You’ll see new people enter their life and they won’t be around as much anymore…

…But it’s all part of that great journey we call parenting.  And this transition will be a beautiful one for the whole family.