5 Ways to Empower Your Adult Child
Parenting children is difficult, but parenting young adult children is even harder. As they begin to desire independence we soon realize their need for us isn’t as great as our need for them. Here are some tips to help you in the transition.
Give Them Space
Let’s face it, they are grown up. If they are paying their own bills and asking you for nothing, they deserve to have their own space. This means they don’t have to answer every phone call or text. Don’t hold a grudge or think they must be angry if they don’t respond to you. It doesn’t mean they love you any less. It means you did a good job and they feel confident in leading their own life. Will they make mistakes? Absolutely! Everyone does at some point, but give them the opportunity to work it out for themselves. Enabling adult children means you haven’t cut the umbilical cord. If you want your adult children to thrive on their own this means you have to accept they may not do things the way you would do, or even like. They need to walk their own path and begin their own journey.
Don’t Share Your Opinion About Everything
Adult Children want to talk with you, but they don’t always need a reaction. They need a safe place where they know what they say will not be used against them. Contrary to belief, they are entitled to their own opinions. Gasp! I know it is painful, but I bet you didn’t agree with every one of your parent’s opinions either. Didn’t you raise your children to be independent thinkers and to use their own mind and voice? I’m not saying you shouldn’t share your personal opinion with your children, but don’t start a battle over something which will cause you both heartache and grief. It isn’t worth it. The way life changes, chances are in six months both of your opinions will have changed anyway. It is okay to disagree. It isn’t okay to try to use your “special” parent power to persuade them to give up their dreams or ideas because you think they won’t work. It doesn’t matter how old your adult child is, every child wants to know their parents believe in them.
Don’t Make Them Wear Guilt or Shame
Yes, they are your children, but they can’t be held responsible for your happiness because you gave them life. You can’t guilt or shame your children into coming to visit you or doing something for you. Don’t tell them you are angry or disappointed because they didn’t become what you wanted them to become, you have to let it go! Maybe the idea was yours instead of theirs. Don’t give them the, “If Only” speech comparing them to a sibling or someone else’s child. It doesn’t work. When they do call or come to visit, don’t complain you never see or hear from them. Just enjoy them! Remember what it was like when you were their age? Don’t place your expectations on them because when they can’t or don’t meet them, you are disappointed and it drives them away. Past mistakes are past mistakes. Don’t make your adult children keep reliving every bad thing they did as a child that you insist made your life miserable. I’m sure there were things which were unpleasant, but no one wants to wear yesterday’s dirty laundry. No one wants to wear yesterday's dirty laundry. Click To Tweet
Love Means Letting Go
It is easy to love your kids when everything is going great, but not so much when they hurt your feelings or you feel abandoned. Remember the first time they were placed into your hands? The love you felt was so profound and deep you could never imagine that sweet innocent little baby turning into your adult child. It was decades away at that moment, but time has a way of slipping away faster than we think. The next thing we know they are out on their own. You think about how fast the last twenty something years have gone, and realize the time you had with them was the blink of an eye. The greatest gift we can give to our young adult children is to allow them the freedom to experience life as a young adult. Your children won’t remember everything you have done for them, but they will remember how you loved them. Love is sacrificial. The bonds of love go deep. You are not letting go of them to never see them again. You are showing them your love when you believe in their ability to be a responsible young adult, and watch, cheer and encourage them while they pursue their purpose.
Make Your Own Plan
Life changes when you become an empty-nester, but it doesn’t mean it stops. A season in raising children in your home may have ended, but the reality is parenting never ends. The roles just change. Embrace the change. Don’t dwell on what was, but enjoy what it is. Be available within reason, but don’t sit around grieving for what isn’t really lost. It is good for your young adult children to see you go on with your life in the absence of their presence. It teaches them the circle of life and how it is supposed to be. Remember when you wished you had time to take a painting class? You can! How about when you wished you could just sleep in on a Saturday morning? You can! Life isn’t over because your children are grown and out of the house. Your schedule just opened up to do more of the things you wished you could do, and can now! The hard part is once you have a plan, they decide to come back!
The next stages of life can be your best yet! It is a wonderful thing to experience an adult to adult relationship with your children. They may not totally “get” you right now, but as both of your lives progress they will gain a deeper appreciation and understanding for what you are going through and what you did for them. Parenting is one of the most difficult and rewarding jobs a person can do and there is no instruction manual or magic mirror to ask the hard questions. However, we can always seek out an older parent than ourselves for their wisdom and advice. Everyone needs a purpose, no matter how old they are.