Parenting Young Adults.
Several of my friends and I have young adult children and it seems like once they turn 21 years old, we keep hearing “I’m an adult now.” For some families it starts as early as 18 years of age. What really measures adulthood? For some parents, their children are never adults, no matter their age. And for some parents no matter how hard they try to get their young adults to grow up, it seems like their stuck in the adolescent stage for life.
As our teens grow older and we develop a changing relationship with them, how do we keep parenting them, without interfering in their lives? How do we deal with the new set of problems that come our way as our teens grow older.
Let go and Let God
It is really gratifying as a parent to watch your teens become everything you hoped they would become as they grow up. On the other hand it is sometimes heartbreaking to watch your young adults make the mistakes you warned them about, some of the exact mistakes you made yourself. You wonder, why don’t they listen? You want them to learn from your mistakes and shorten the learning curve so to speak. It would be so easy if they simply listened and did what you told them to do. That would be the ideal world.
I sit back and look at myself, and how often I make the same mistakes over and over again. If I can’t completely control my life, how can I control the life of my young adult? Somewhere along the line, you have to accept, you did the best with the tools you had at the time, and believe you have equipped them with what it takes to make their own mistakes and learn from them. Learning from mistakes is part of growing up after all. We need to let go and let God be in control. Sometimes the more you try to control your young adults, the more they want to do exactly what you’re warning them against. You need to retreat and put on your praying cap. Praying for our children, no matter their age is a lifelong commitment and we need to realize the power of effective prayer in bringing about change. Learn to let go and let God.
Navigating the changing relationship
Your young adult decides to move in with you, to save money whilst they work. How do you handle this new relationship? Parents realize without warning they have to start hands on parenting again. This new relationship can either draw the family together or tear you apart. Young adults think they can continue to live life on their own terms when they move in with you. For a family used to the peace and quiet of an empty home, this can wreak havoc on their lifestyle. How does one handle this? Of course the key to resolving conflict is always effective communication. You should discuss your rules and expectations before you agree to this relationship. If you want your child to have a curfew, discuss it with them and be realistic about the cutoff time. Make them aware this is indeed a temporary situation. Discuss how much housework you want them to do? At the end of the day, this is not a hotel, and if they choose to live with you, they must participate in keeping things running smoothly. I know some parents who ask their children to pay a small token of money, and I think this helps the teens not take you for granted and teaches them responsibility. Are they allowed to have guests sleep over? These are all questions you have to discuss upfront and if your child feels they can handle the rules, then they move in. It’s better to have this discussion than for your child to just move in and both parties have unrealistic expectations of each other.
Realize that parenting never ends
It doesn’t really matter how smart your child is or what they have achieved in life or even if they have their own children, parenting never ends. We need to embrace this role and comfort our young adults when they make mistakes and fall flat on their faces and rejoice with them and be their biggest cheerleaders, when they excel. Be the quiet behind the scene support they need. Be always available to talk to them and advise them if they ask for it, without insisting they do what you say. Give them room and respect their decision when they want to figure things out on their own, even if it means they make a mistake. No matter what, keeps the lines of communication open. Most importantly we must realize the value and effectiveness of prayer. Pray about their friendships, their jobs, their spouses, where they will live etc. Now more than ever, we must continue to guide and protect them with prayer.
“Because your children are still your children, your prayers will always have impact in their lives. You may no longer be able to tell them what to do but you can sure tell the enemy what to do.” Stormie Omartian.