Helping Your Adult Child Become Independent

Helping Your Adult Child Become Independent

These days, people are living with their parents for longer and longer, and for the parents in the equation, this presents a range of dilemmas. How are you going to support your adult child in becoming independent? What kind of boundaries should you set while they’re living with you, and struggling to find work? If your adult child should have flown the nest years ago, but they’re still living with you, here’s some of the best advice for helping them become independent.

Assess Where You Are

The first step in helping your adult child towards independence is relatively simple; assessing where you are at the minute. This involves some careful considerations. Have you been setting boundaries that have been crossed, and need to impose some stricter limits? How long are you willing to let your adult child live in your home within those limits? Does your child actually want to be independent, or are they more comfortable letting you take care of their responsibilities? Assessing the situation thoroughly will allow you to determine the next best step to take. You may be uncertain about certain things, but as you get further into the process of helping them fly the nest, these will all become clearer.

Change your Perspective

For many parents, the hardest thing about helping their adult children towards independence is getting out of the protective, paternal mindset that they’re so used to. Obviously, we love our children, and this exceedingly powerful emotion can cause us to be terrified of what will happen to our kids when they’re out in the big wide world, where we can’t take care of them as much as we’d like. This usually stems from us still thinking about our twenty-something as a child. The reality of it is that your kid is an adult, equal to you in the structure of society, and equally capable of managing their lives as independently as you. Often, our attempts to help our adult kids become independent can amount to babying them. It’s one thing to send them links to job boards and home rental websites, but another to do the work for them, diluting how much they can learn from the experience. If you go too long without thinking of your child as the adult they are, you’re only going to make things harder for them, and keep yourself stuck in parental caretaking mode.

Understand your Emotional Triggers

Having set clear boundaries about your adult child living with you, you need to spend some time identifying and understanding the emotional triggers that could cause you to roll over. The better you understand these, and watch out for them, the easier it will be to put your foot down where it really counts. Sticking to your guns when your child should have left home years ago can make all the difference to how quickly wheels are set in motion. In many instances, depriving them of the luxuries you pay for – their phone, internet use, car expenses, can be the push they need to get a job and move out.

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