How do you parent young adult children? According to my husband, we don’t. Our opportunity to “raise them” has passed. He believes that once a child becomes an adult there is nothing else you can teach them and they must now make their own decisions. In my husband’ s defense, I believe what he means is that our influence as parents has changed or decreased and our young adult children no longer have any obligation to do what we say. But, as a mom I have a hard time letting go.
Our oldest son is a junior in college and I am still in a state of total shock. Where did the time go? Technically, he is my stepson, but I have been very active and instrumental in his child rearing. His mother was the primary caregiver until he began high school, at which time he came to live with my husband and me. We have been very blessed in that our co-parenting was very successful and resulted in a fine, smart, young man.
While he is now an adult, he is not by any means “grown”. Grown means you are completely independent, paying your own bills and making your own way in life. As a college student, he still depends on us, his parents. So, back to my original question: “How do you parent young adult children?” These are some things that have worked for us:
1. Keep the lines of communication open. As parents we have created an environment where our son is very comfortable speaking (texting) with us. He keeps us abreast of most of the happenings in his life. He IS a college student and we are not naive about this. We haven’t forgotten that we, too, were college students once. I’ll never forget my mom telling me when I was in college, “I am old enough and young enough and smart enough to know what’s going on!” We don’t expect him to tell us everything. However, it is comforting to know that we can reach him when we need to and vice versa.
2. Give them space. We have raised him. He has been given most of the principles of life. Now it is time for him to exercise those principles for himself. The young adult years is the time when our children can make some bad or wrong decisions (as long as they are not illegal) and still be supported by their parents. We still have a little say in his life because we are supporting him. But, he has to realize that there are consequences for every action. Like my mom always said, “You can do what you want, but there are consequences for every action”. We have to give him space to experience life.
3. Continue to impart wisdom. Just because he is a young adult doesn’t mean we can’t continue to give him good advice. It is almost easier now to share our learning experiences with him because his young adult mind can comprehend them better. Half the time when we try to share situations with our two younger boys they respond with, “What does that mean?” 😑 Now, he is more receptive to some of our advice because he is experiencing real life.
“Children” do not stop being our children just because they become adults. Think about your relationship with your own parents. How has it evolved over the years?
What advice do you have for parents of young adult children?
Until next time-
“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” (Proverbs 22:6 NIV)