Your children are no longer children. They’ve passed the difficult childhood years and made it through the seemingly endless teenage years.
They’re officially adults, and a whole new set of parenting challenges awaits.
The first years of adulthood – the early and mid twenties – are truly confusing and challenging to both adult children and their parents. Here are some things to keep in mind.
- Family dynamics and roles are consistent throughout a family’s lifetime. Sibling rivalry remains alive and well. Parents are often mystified when their adult children who visit for Thanksgiving still argue about the same things. Adult children are surprised, as well, that the same feelings of hurt and the same emotional reactions to their parents and siblings remain. As much as possible, keep your sense of humor. If your adult kids start bickering, you don’t have to get involved like you did when they were growing up.
- As a parent, you will experience many of the same frustrations with your child that you did when he or she was younger. Try and step back from your old emotional habits and experience your child in a new way. Don’t make assumptions based on things they did when they were 10. Stay away from the phrases “you always,” “you never” and “there you go again.”
- Your adult children are still your kids, and will turn to you for support, both emotional and financial. Good parenting doesn’t end when a kid is legally an adult. Keep the doors to communication open. If they call you at 2 AM crying because of a bad break up, take it as a sign that they feel close enough to you to reach out. Decide with your spouse or partner how much financial support you can offer, and be up front about it.
- Your kids may engage in activities that you feel are wrong, are dangerous, foolish or illegal. They’ll succeed, fail, and succeed. Take a step back and allow them to experience their journey. Your job is not to protect them from the world. Don’t take their actions personally. And if possible, keep your comments non-judgmental. The phrase “that’s interesting” can be used for many things.
- Your job as a parent doesn’t end; it simply changes. You may continue to be the one your son calls when he can’t figure out how to boil an egg, or your daughter goes to when she has a miscarriage. You may have to bite your tongue when your 21-year-old shaves her head, or when your 22-year-old pierces his nose, tongue and one other place he won’t tell you. But they still need to know you are there for them, that they can count on your love and support, and that you still think the world of them.
- Allow your relationship to grow and mature. Treat your child as the adult he or she now is.
Many parents say that this is the most satisfying aspect of their parenting journey. Being able to watch this person, whom you’ve known since birth, mature into adulthood is wonderful. Enjoy it, and remember that these are the people who will be caring for you and loving you when you get older.
photo from Shutterstock
Last reviewed: 29 Jul 2012
Harmon, J. (2012). Unexpected Parenting Challenges: Part 4 – Adult Children. Psych Central.
Retrieved on May 23, 2013, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/your-life/2012/07/unexpected-parenting-challenges-part-4-adult-children/