Your Relationship with Your Children as Teens and Young Adults
It is very important for your children to move from being teenagers to young adults in a way that is healthy for them — and for you.
As your children moved through other stages — for example, from babies to toddlers or from preschoolers to school-age children, your relationship, communication, and parenting style changed. This stage is no different. As your children mature and become more independent, your relationship with them will continue to change. You may be more of a friend and adviser. The keys to making this a positive change are open communication and being flexible.
The relationship with your children changes even more quickly as they become teens. Teens want to be independent, but deep down they also need to be connected. Parents should try to balance increasing freedom with guidelines and structure. For example, set limits on television, computer, and cell phone time or maintain a school-night bedtime. But you can be flexible by making exceptions at times.
When out of high school, whether they are in college or working, your young adult children still need your guidance. And, it continues, even when they are graduating from college or moving on in another way. It just needs to be appropriate to the situation.
Children mature at different speeds, so there are no age guidelines for independence. Most parents feel some sadness or loss as their roles change. Keep in mind that children often struggle with the changes, too.
Here are a few suggestions to help make this change a healthy one:
Talk openly and honestly to your children about your feelings. Encourage your children to do the same.
Help your children plan their independent future. If you do it together, it will help lessen the stress of separation. For example, you can help your child select college classes or find his or her apartment. Consider volunteering to help decorate that first apartment, for example.
Share your wisdom, but let your children make their own decisions. For example, your child may be excited about moving into an apartment that you think is too expensive. You can help your child by reviewing his or her budget and expenses.
Try establishing new or better relationships with your spouse or other loved ones — perhaps by planning more activities together.
Talk to other parents who already have been through this stage. Their experiences, both good and bad, and suggestions can help you.
If you are having a very difficult time, talk with your health care provider. He or she may recommend treatment, such as counseling.
- Holloway, Beth, RN, M.Ed.
- MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician