Inside: It can be tricky to navigate this new season as your teens emerge into young adults. Here is how you can stay close to your grown children.
This is a contributed piece by Jacqueline Douge, a pediatrician, writer, speaker, and founder of What is Black, LLC,
Can I be honest with you?
Lately, I’ve been going through a rollercoaster of emotions as my kids take on the journey of adulthood. It’s a bittersweet experience, filled with pride and joy, but also a twinge of worry.
I catch myself wondering if we’ll still have that same closeness we shared when they were younger. How do I navigate this new chapter without hovering over them like a helicopter parent? And perhaps the biggest question of all: Who am I now that my role as a mom is evolving?
Six ways to stay close to your growing children
These thoughts have been swirling in my mind, and I believe many of us can relate.
It’s time to open up about the challenges of parenting young adults, discover how to give them space while maintaining a deep connection, and find our own identity beyond the all-encompassing role of a mom.
1. Finding Common Ground:
When my child entered adulthood, I’ll admit that I had my doubts about how our relationship would look. Would we still have those heart-to-heart talks? Would we find common interests?
But you know what? We did. It wasn’t always in the same way as before, but that’s the beauty of growth. We discovered new avenues of connection and shared experiences that deepened our bond. It turns out, there’s so much to learn from our young adults if we keep an open mind and embrace their ever-changing passions.
2. Balancing Support and Independence:
The struggle of wanting to be there for our children without being overbearing is real. I found myself holding my breath, fighting the urge to helicopter-parent.
But I soon realized that letting go doesn’t mean loving any less. It means giving them space to figure things out on their own while reassuring them that we’re just a phone call away. It’s about being a guiding presence rather than a controlling force. Trusting them and their decisions, even when it’s hard, empowers them to grow and flourish.
3. Establishing a New Parent-Child Relationship:
Remember when we were the ones who held all the answers? Well, those days are gone.
As our children enter adulthood, we must redefine our relationship with them. It’s about treating them as equals, respecting their opinions, and fostering open and honest communication.
We’re creating a foundation of trust and mutual respect that allows for a deeper connection. It’s a journey of understanding and adapting, but it’s so worth it
4. Overcoming Our Own Parenting Upbringing:
I often catch myself reflecting on how I was raised. My parents had their own style, and it shaped me in many ways.
But I wanted something different for my children. I wanted to break free from the patterns of the past and create a new legacy. It took some conscious effort to let go of the old ways, to be present without being distant, and to set boundaries without shutting them out. It’s about finding that delicate balance that allows them to flourish while still feeling loved and supported.
5. Maintaining a Relationship of Support and Love:
As our children face the challenges of adulthood, they need us more than ever. We may not always have the answers, but we can offer a listening ear, a shoulder to lean on, and a safe space to share their triumphs and tribulations.
We become their rock, their constant source of support and unwavering love. It’s a beautiful dance of being there when they need us while respecting their independence. And through it all, our bond grows stronger.
6. Self-Discovery Beyond the Parental Role:
One of the most surprising aspects of this journey is the opportunity for personal growth and self-discovery. As our children find their own path, we start to question who we are beyond the title of “mom” or “dad.”
It’s a chance to reignite dormant passions, pursue long-forgotten dreams, and rediscover our own identity. We realize that being a parent is just one part of the incredible tapestry of our lives.
We can nurture ourselves, find joy in our own pursuits, and show our children the power of self-care and personal fulfillment.
Life can still be full when your kids fly the nest
Embracing and navigating the transition to parenting young adults is filled with a mix of emotions but also a journey of self-discovery, trying to figure out who we are beyond the role of being a mom or dad. But here’s the thing: we’re not alone in this experience.
To all the parents out there facing similar challenges, I want to remind you that we’re in this together. It’s okay to have doubts, worries, and questions. It’s a natural part of the journey.
By sharing our stories and supporting one another, we can find strength and guidance.
So, let’s embrace the transition with open hearts and minds. Let’s find common ground with our young adults, strike a balance between support and independence, and redefine our relationships to respect their autonomy while nurturing our connection.
Let’s break free from old patterns and create a new legacy of understanding and love.
And as we navigate this journey of parenting young adults, let’s also remember to put self-care as a priority for ourselves.
It’s a chance for self-discovery, rediscovering our passions, and finding fulfillment beyond the role of being parents. Embrace your own personal growth and show your children the power of pursuing dreams and nurturing your own well-being.
In the end, our experiences and insights can be shared with other parents who may be facing the same challenges. By supporting and uplifting one another, we create a community that understands the joys and struggles of parenting young adults.
This post originally appeared on the blog What is Black.
Are you in the thick of raising your tweens and teens? You may like this book by Whitney Fleming, the co-owner of Parenting Teens & Tweens: Loving Hard When They’re Hard to Love: Essays about Raising Teens in Today’s Complex, Chaotic World.
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