THE ART OF LETTING GO: GRIEVING YOUR CHILD, AND LEARNING HOW TO BE A PARENT OF A YOUNG ADULT

May 16, 2023

It’s important to know your role as a parent will always remain. It’s just that the job description and requirements shift, drastically. Being 18 years old is an arbitrary age for when we say as a society that a young person is ready to step out into the world on their own. Maybe you fantasized about them leaving the nest as you were holding them in your arms at the hospital years ago. Yet, now that it’s time for them to live on their own and take care of themselves you have a sinking feeling they aren’t ready. You haven’t taught them everything they need to know yet. You’re afraid they won’t make it. The reality is, they may not be ready. We won’t know though until we let them out of the nest, right?

There’s a finesse to transitioning your role from housekeeper, cook, shuttle driver, and bill payer to then consultant, partner, and friend. You can continue to help them as they navigate the world on their own, but there’s a difference in how you have to respond. When they’re in trouble, you need to step back and not rescue them. Your role now is strictly to advise them on what the do for themselves. Instead of requiring they tell you where they are at all times, the lines of communication are left open but the ball is in their court to initiate. They are studying and or working and they are responsible for their own bills. You are no longer required to provide those basic needs of shelter. You don’t do their laundry, cook their food, or drive them places. And if they ask you to do that, kindly share with them that you’d do it once in a while if they asked otherwise it’s no longer your responsibility.

Hard to accept the idea of holding such a strong boundary for a seemingly helpless young person. The reality is though is that you must cut the umbilical cord at some point. If you continue to treat them like children, they will act like children. If you treat them like an adult, they will learn to respond as an adult. They will not learn to spread their wings or take care of themselves, otherwise. It is an art in learning to let go, and it’s not something that you will master immediately. It takes a lot of time, practice, patient, and understanding. It is also a grieving process. This will show up in many different ways, so be prepared and keep your eyes locked onto the end goal which is a new chapter on how to parent.

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