The title of this website is “Parents Letting Go.” It speaks to the normal developmental process of parents letting go and launching their young adult. If it seems more difficult today for both parents and young adults to let go, it is. As parents, we are closer to our kids and more invested in their happiness and success than past generations. As part of the baby boomer generation, when I left home after college, there was never a thought about moving back home even temporarily, and believe me, my parents didn’t have such a thought either.
Today our adult kids live closer to home if not in our homes, and we communicate with them almost daily by cell, text, Facebook, email or other electronic means. This connectedness is clearly something we value, but it also keeps us entangled with our kids and they with us in ways that may forestall their independence.
Tips for Letting Go
What are the actions we can take to let go of our young adults?
- Support the young adults leaving home. It is important that our young adults move toward independence involving having their own physical space. In western society, this typically means moving out. Living separately from the parents may not signify independence nor does living with parents indicate dependence. But the physical separation, having one’s own space, fosters a greater sense of autonomy for both parties.
- Let go of the need to control. Parents must move from a “tell and direct” type of parenting to coaching and consulting style of parenting where the young adult has to make their own decisions. We can coach by helping them come up with their own ideas to examine and consult by offering ideas and suggestions with the caveat that they are responsible for the decisions and actions they take.
- Let go of unresolved binding emotions. Parental guilt is epidemic with parents of millennials. If our kids are failing in some way or not making progress at the pace we think they should, we start to wonder “where did we go wrong?” We suffer from guilt, shame, regret, sense of failure and often try to find what we did or didn’t do that is the source of their failure to launch. On the website linked below are resources for dealing with these emotions that bind us in unhealthy ways to our kids.
- Let go of our responsibility for our kids’ success and happiness. We often stay too involved and even invasive at times because we are driven by fear, worry, and anxiety regarding their actions and ultimate happiness. We try too hard to help. We step in to spare them from the consequences of their actions. We create a vision for our kids of what they need to do or become to be happy and successful and try to steer them toward that vision. We have to give up our dreams and allow our young adults to have their own.
- We have to let go but stay connected. For their well-being as well as ours, we need to commit to loving and emotionally supporting our young adults while allowing them to have their independence. This concept of separate connectedness is a challenge and not easily codified. It’s a balancing act that our kids and we have to manage daily. A book that I have written available on Amazon entitled “Parenting with Love and Backbone” speaks to this balance.
Do you have experiences, suggestions or questions you would like to share? Please participate. Your voice is welcomed and needed. We’ll share your comments with other parents who come to our website.