Parenting a Struggling Young Adult: When to Let Go
Written by Craig Rogers,
in Section Articles
Parenting a struggling young adult can bring about a variety of emotions and concerns for both parents and the child. It is sometimes difficult to know how to help, how much help should be offered and when to let go, love them anyway and move on with your life. This is a delicate balancing act as your child is transitioning into adulthood and you are facing the prospect of amending your parental role and responses.
Help where you reasonably can and no more
As your young adult begins to move into a new phase of life, there may be times when they sincerely need your guidance and assistance. Getting started in anything new can seem overwhelming. One of the best moves that you as a parent can make is to provide your young adult child with encouragement, moral support and the basic tools to help them more easily transition into their new adult roles in society. Understanding the boundaries of how much is too much is not always clear. It is up to them to make choices on education and their career path. You are still the parent and your support and encouragement during this phase can help to alleviate any anxiety that they may be experiencing at this time.
Pinpointing the issues
Identifying the reasons why your child is struggling is needed to target the issue with action. For example, if indecision is the main problemyou can set them up with online information that can help them understand what their choices are. Aptitude and interest inventories, data on available jobs, requirements for entry level into the fields and other information can help them to narrow the choices. Helping them to complete any necessary applications or registration forms is perfectly acceptable, but making the choices for them may backfire in the long run.
Manage your frustration
Frustration is a natural response when your child is struggling and you do not see an immediate solution. There are times when it is more helpful to start letting go so your child can start standing on his or her own two feet and making hard decisions that are a part of adulthood. When you've done all that you can reasonably do, pointed them in the best direction, set boundaries on what you are willing to do for them and what they must do for themselves, let them do it. This is how young people learn to take personal responsibility. Avoid changing your plans to accommodate requests from your child when it is something they can and should do for themselves.
Set boundaries for yourself and your adult child
Be clear and to the point when you establish these boundaries. One of the best things you can do for your child and yourself is to maintain your own life as they begin theirs. Some examples of this are requiring that they either go to college or get a job. Getting a driver's license when appropriate and taking on more personal responsibility for their own transportation are also important points. If your adult child is still living at home, have them start making contributions to the household by buying personal items for themselves such as toiletries, clothes, helping with monthly expenses such as groceries and other bills. This gives them a preview of what to expect when they move out on their own.
When your adult child is struggling the natural response is to help where you can. Setting healthy boundaries that allow you to carry on with your own life and encourages them to pursue theirs as well will provide the most benefits for each of you in the long run.