Just because they’ve grown up, it doesn’t mean that your child doesn’t need your support. Becoming an adult is hard and emotional, and for many, it can be a scary transition with a lot of uncertainties. But being a parent to an adult child going through all of that is also difficult and confusing.
They are still your child even though they are not a kid anymore, their decisions may truly affect their lives, and watching them fail, especially knowing you could have protected them, can be hard. This may leave you wondering what kind of support you should offer them to help them be happy – without affecting their personality negatively, and while building a strong relationship with them.
Teach Them Not to Seek Your Approval
Looking for the approval of someone you consider wise, smart, strong, your protector, etc., is a very common thing. Now that your child is an adult, they may still look for your approval when they make decisions about their life. And, you may expect them to ask for it. However, no one, not even parents know everything.
In real life, it’s impossible to agree with someone on everything. Sometimes your child will want for themselves something you don’t approve of. If you try to understand them and show them that you support their decision, this will show them that you are not trying to control their life and you are their real support.
Let Them Fail
There isn’t always a clear line between enabling adult children and helping them. Do they truly need protection, whether it’s about their physical or mental health, their financial situation, or anything else, or are you simply trying to shield them from even the smallest failure? The truth is that every child is different, every relationship is different, and you are the only one who can assess the situation.
As children grow into adults, parents face new types of relationships with them. In this stage, children start gaining independence and making their own decisions. As someone with more experience, you may suspect or know that your child is making the wrong decision. When they are little, children learn how to fall, and how to stand. And now it’s the time for which they were preparing.
Sometimes letting your child fail can be the best support you can give them. This can make them stronger individuals, learn from their own mistakes, ready to face all kinds of challenges.
Try to Understand Them
It can be hard letting your child do something that you are convinced is wrong. However, trying to make them believe what you believe – or even know – to be true, isn’t the right way to support them. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should censor yourself and never express your opinion.
Nevertheless, instead of trying to force it on them, with the ‘you have to listen to me, I’m your parent’ attitude, you should communicate with them with respect, always keeping in mind that this person in front of you is an adult, and they are allowed to make their own decisions.
To understand your child better, and be able to see the situation clearly, without judgment and expectations, you should learn how to listen more and talk less. This is the only way to know what kind of support you should offer and be there for your child – finding the fine line between enabling them and letting them suffer.
Reassure Them That There Is Time
Young adults today are under pressure to live an exceptional life, be extremely successful and fulfilled, live in the moment, be responsible, and so on. All of this mixed with the pandemic and all the other crises around us makes for an even more difficult emotional mess.
And the constant use of social media, where everyone seems to have better, more fulfilled lives, doesn’t help with that at all. This makes them feel like a failure, so they start rethinking their choices, they feel as if the future is this moment as if there isn’t time for anything.
At that age, people feel the meaning of the phrase they’ve said many times before: life is too short. They feel as if they have missed their chance to be someone. To support your children through these challenging moments, you should talk to them openly and honestly, reassure them that there is time, and their twenties aren’t their last chance.
Parents can easily find themselves facing the dilemma of whether they should intervene to protect their child, or let them make their own decision, fail, face the consequences, learn, survive, and come stronger out of the experience. How you deal with such situations can determine your relationship with your grown-up child.