How to Let Go of Growing Kids
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, your relationship, communication, and
parenting style changed. For example, from babies to toddlers or from preschoolers
to school-age children. 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 teen years and beyond
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 keep a school-night bedtime.
But you can be flexible by making exceptions at times.
When out of high school, your young adult children still need your guidance. This
is true whether they are in college or working. 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 some tips 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 children select college
classes or find their 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
children may be excited about moving into an apartment that you think is too expensive.
You can help them by reviewing their budget and expenses.
Try establishing new or better relationships with your spouse or other loved ones—perhaps
by planning more activities together.
Talk with 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 healthcare provider. Treatment,
such as counseling, may be recommended.