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Transitioning from Being a Child to an Adult


For the first two decades of a person's life, the parents are in charge of many things in life. As children grow into young adults, they can take over more and more of life's responsibilities that the parents once controlled. Some of these responsibilities parents are glad to give over, but they may be still trying to hold onto other areas.

What Makes It Hard for Parents?
Encourage the young adults you work with to look through our parents' eyes and consider why letting go of some responsibilities for you might be hard for them. What do you think they might say or think?

They want what is best for you. Most parents love their kids and want the very best for their lives. Sometimes parents try too hard to control their kids to ensure that they "perform" the right way and get the most out of life. Sometimes parents just fear you will make a bad choice, but sometimes they actually see you make unhealthy choices that scare them. Parents typically aren't trying to interfere in the independence of their kids because they want to raise high functioning, independent adults. They likely want to trust you and the training they have given. Reassuring parents that you are making good choices will often help calm any fears they have.

They have their own struggles. Parents are in a life stage of transition as well. Your leaving home changes the entire family dynamic and the daily routines and responsibilities of your parents, so they are also adjusting to a new way of life. In addition, parents will often have other struggles they are navigating as they deal with finances, work, aging, and friendship challenges. Many parents at this time are sandwiched between tending to the needs of both their young adults children and ailing parents. Take time to ask your parents about their lives. This sign of maturity will be felt and appreciated by your parents!

Anxiety in the air. Another way you can increase your empathy for your parents' difficulty of letting go is to recognizing the anxiety inherent in the air they breathe. Think about what they hear when they turn on the morning news--college student abductions, active shooters on-campus, high rates of sexual assault, etc. Theses realities can contribute to the anxieties that parents feel when trying to let go of you as a young adult.