“I’ll explain it when you grow up … ” “Don’t be in such a hurry to grow up.” “I wish you would just grow up!” These timeworn phrases follow you throughout life — sometimes encouraging you, sometimes frustrating you. As you enter your adult years, or as you watch your children pass through this gateway into adulthood, knowing how to recognize the time for independence is crucial to a healthy parent-child relationship.
Responsibilities increase during the post-adolescent years (approximately late teens to mid-20s). During this time, young adults face many life changes — going to college, getting married, becoming parents, purchasing a car and establishing a home. Though grown children often seek parental guidance, financial help and emotional support during this tumultuous yet exciting time, they also expect (and may demand) independence. The fine line between helping your child and holding their hand must be navigated.
One of the best ways to make this transition smooth is to plan ahead and prepare for some major changes and challenges — whether you’re releasing your child, or being released by your parents. Just a few of the situations you or your grown child might face include:
- Establishing identity
- Balancing priorities
- Financial struggles
- Dating/finding a mate
- Relationship struggles
- Searching for a career
- Developing political views
- Dealing with conflict at work or school
- Feeling social pressure to “fit in”
This is just a partial list but it offers a small taste of things to come. A functional relationship with parents, strengthened by open, honest communication, provides a great base for making the move from child to adult. More than likely, as illustrated in the familiar analogy of a baby learning to walk, your child will take some nasty spills — be it debt, marital problems, an unplanned pregnancy or difficulty in school or on the job. This is a time of great freedom, great responsibility and, hopefully, of establishing love and respect that will last through your — and their — lives.