I’ll admit I had a vision of what parenting my children would look like. I think if we’re honest, most of us have an ideal vision. Mine was built on the faulty premise that I would pour everything I had into these tiny beings. I would sacrifice anything and everything to make sure that when it was time to leave home, my young adult children would be able to fly gracefully out of our cozy nest.Trust me, that perfect vision I had is a distant memory. And, there are days I wonder why someone didn’t shake me out of my unrealistic dream with a hardy slap upside the head. via @LeahNieman Click To Tweet
If you are the parent of adult children, you are probably rolling on the floor laughing by now. Trust me, that perfect vision I had is a distant memory. And, there are days I wonder why someone didn’t shake me out of my unrealistic dream with a hardy slap upside the head. It certainly would have been easier than the harsh dose of reality I received when my first child left home.
You see, the spring after my first child left for college I realized children don’t simply leave home. There is still much parenting left to do; it just looks different. But, because my expectation was that my child would fly so smoothly, I struggled with feelings of failure.
• Is my child struggling because I failed her somehow?
• Is this because we homeschooled?
• Is this because there were some life lessons I didn’t teach?
And then I had the opportunity to see a nest of baby birds take flight. In case you’ve never seen this for yourself, here’s a video. It’s not at all as glamorous and graceful as you’d think.
There is nothing smooth and graceful about a baby bird taking flight, is there?! I had built an image of my kids taking flight like a majestic eagle, completely forgetting that at some point that eagle had to learn to fly.
Here Are 4 Truths We Need to Understand About Parenting Adult Children
1. The first flight takes great courage and strength.
In every video I’ve watched showing baby birds leaving the nest, I’ve noticed the parents feeding them right before they leave. Our young adult children need the same from us. They need us to invest in them as they begin their journey. Be sure your teen is ready for college or work life by making sure they understand finances, health care, and Internet safety.
2. Sometimes the path is not clear.
Just like the young bird in the video, sometimes our kids hit snags and bumps as they are beginning college and work life. It’s a process. And, sometimes working and taking classes makes it clear what they want and don’t want to do in life. This is okay. It’s interesting to me when people act surprised and even a bit shocked that we weren’t disappointed when both of our children changed majors once they hit college and began taking classes. One child even needed to switch colleges. We were happy our young adult children were grounded enough to realize they needed to make a change while in college. After all, statistics show on average adults change careers roughly seven times. It’s important that young adults have space to learn, grow, and decide what they want to do while in college. It’s okay if your young adult has a clear focus as they leave the nest. But, it’s equally okay if your young adult needs time to explore their interests in order to figure out their career path.
3. The first landing spot isn’t the final destination.
Most of us have many stops and intersections on our journey through life. And this may very well be the case with your young adult. They may begin working and taking classes. Or, they may jump right into college and work all the way through a Master’s program. The job I’m doing today wasn’t even a blip on my radar when I was a young adult. I’ve learned and had some really fun jobs, then had some career changes. Along the way my family has encouraged me. Remember, your young adult needs your support and encouragement as they explore their interests as well.
4. Our young adults need us to cheer them on and support them from the sidelines.
Supporting our young adult children doesn’t mean doing everything for them. It means giving them the freedom to do things for themselves, even if that means learning from a mistake. I remember a time in my young adult life when I had my first job. I wanted clothes to fit my new job, but I didn’t manage my money well one month. I ended up running short on funds that month. I had enough gas money for work, but there were a few long days where I had no money for food, let alone entertainment. I also paid my car insurance bill a few days late. I learned very quickly to pay attention to my budget.
Our young adult children need us to cheer them on from the sidelines and not bail them out from every little situation. #parentingadults #biblicalparenting via @LeahNieman Click To Tweet
There may be times when we need to offer assistance, but this should be the exception and not the rule.
Watching my children leave home has been much different than I expected. But seeing them strive to succeed and adjust to life’s curveballs has been one of the most rewarding parts of parenting. Has it been scary? Absolutely! But, it’s also been beautiful. They’ve taken flight and I’ve had a front row seat. How can I not feel blessed?!
What is something you’ve learned while parenting your own adult children this year?
Leah is a wife and mom of 2 homeschool graduates. She’s a popular speaker who encourages parents to walk with their kids through the world of social media and technology so we raise a generation of digitally responsible young adults. You can find her eBooks Connected: Apps All Parents Should Know, Quick Guide to Parental Controls for Kindle, and Connected: A Parent’s Guide to Snapchat, as well as tips on technology and social media at leahnieman.com.