After spending a good part of your life raising children, it can be difficult to abandon your role as parent when they reach adulthood. You might feel like you’re losing control over the choices they make or fear that you’ll never be as close to them as you were once.
This is normal…
As a parent who has experienced both enriching and tough times with your children, the letting go process can be particularly painful. You will never have your son or daughter as a child again and this loss deserves an honest mourning.
But it’s also the beginning of a different relationship that has value and can bring as much to the parent as to the grown child. Your new role will allow your children to develop their potential and self-confidence by confronting the most difficult moments of life on their own. They may also develop a friendlier and mature relationship with you.
Here are 5 tips on how to transition from parenting your adult children to becoming a valuable resource for them:
1. Know your offspring will be okay with or without you. You have done your job to teach them when they required your guidance. But remember – your guidance can now be a hindrance – unintentionally usurping their decision-making and/or confidence in themselves.
2. Instead of telling your children how to get what you think they need, ask them about their values, goals and dreams. Perhaps they will ask you to help them find the path that will lead them there.
3. Keep your tongue. You may not agree with their decisions and it will be up to the adult child to deal with whatever may come their way: good, bad or ugly.
4. Create a new (and potentially) closer relationship with them: an adult relationship.
5. Move forward in your own life, beyond the role of parent, to embrace new opportunities, roles and responsibilities and enjoy the freedom of having no one dependent on you.
Letting go means no longer parenting your adult kids. Have faith in their ability to do for themselves – even when/if they make mistakes. Letting go means no longer telling them what to do (unless asking for your guidance). Guidance is different than doing for them.
Letting go of parenting an adult is necessary for your own welfare and that of your child. It CAN go smoothly if you embrace it with optimism and joy. Now is the time to enjoy the fruits of your efforts with your adult children!
Jacinta Ball is a professional facilitator, mediator, conflict management expert and blogger at Intrust Communications Inc. She’s also the mother of four grown offspring.
Jacinta spent ten years as a Children’s Advocate with the United Nations. She has worked with all levels of government, MPs and MLAs, school boards, CEOs, businesses and individuals to help them achieve their goals. She lives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.