Many parents tell me the hardest part of parenting is watching their young adults ages 19-25 launch out into the world.
You can’t really talk about what’s going on because they are adults and it is not yours to tell. This is also true of younger children that there comes a point to stop sharing as well, and becomes our work to turn inward and garner support there.
This is a hard time to be launching into the world, but other times in history were also hard. Challenges also exist, and we do our best to prepare our children as they head into adulthood. We can guide them, but only to the extent the young adult wants to hear and act on what would be helpful – and sometimes we honestly don’t have the right answer, because the parent and the now young adult are two different people in situations we never had to deal with!
You worry about them. Many parents tell me they worry for their children’s safety, whether from gun violence or because they are different than other young adults. Bullying can occur even in college, which is disheartening and sad. Parents worry their child won’t be able to find stable employment or a stable healthy relationship.
One mother told me, “And if you even want to complain or worry aloud about how your children are doing – don’t – because then someone will inevitably tell you that you obviously did “it” wrong and how great their children are doing!” Ha. Competition amongst parents can still exist, even at this age. Who is finishing university? Who has a great job? Who is in a solid relationship with someone wonderful? These may be conventional standards, but perhaps asked amongst the elders and extended family and general community. They may be the wrong questions, but ones people think will lead to a happy life.
So, today I say set those worries or niggling fears aside for a moment. There is no worrying that can change the outcome in someone else’s life. They are their own person on their own journey. There will be good and bad along the way and they will make the choices. We did too! We must always remember that our now young adult has their own path to walk and fulfill. We have prepared them the best that we could and we can send them the power of our love and support. We can be in their corner, always and forever.
If you have to help your child longer and more intensely than others because things aren’t so typical, then so be that as well. I know parents who have done things above and beyond for their adult children who have struggled with neurologic, physical, or mental health challenges and it helped the parents sleep better at night and worry less. So be it. Everyone’s path is not the same and we do what we need to do to help with their stability and to help the health of our children sometimes. These situations can be complex, and easy for others to try to judge from the outside, but honestly, don’t we all wish we had people like that in our corner!
To those of you with young adults that you are worried about, I see you. Please know there are so many paths and ways to become independent adults and the early 20s can be a time of trying to pull all those pieces together. It really doesn’t matter what you were doing at that age; this is their journey. Support them in love.
To those of you with children that are seen as “atypical” in some way and you are worried about their safety and things that others may judge and deem very basic, I see that and hold that in my heart. We all want our children to be safe and accepted and loved.
To those of you whose children are in college and dealing with things you didn’t think they would have to deal with or discovering that this path is not what they thought, I see you.
To those of you with children on paths seen as not as standard as heading off to university, I see you.
For those of you dealing with judgment surrounding your young adults in some way, I see you. Life and maturing, in the 19-25 age bracket is not often linear.
Parenting is hard and launching young adults is hard, but it can also be a pleasure. The moments of joy and success can radiate, and the parenting at this age, like all ages, can be fun and wonderful. It is exciting to create a relationship with your young adult that is different than it was when they were younger. It can be a bittersweet time to watch them grow, stretch, fail, learn but such a wonderful time to extend our love and support even more as we see them for who they are and who they will become.
The days of parenting may seem long and the years may seem short, but I am telling you that you will never, ever regret the time and everything you have invested in having good communication and an open relationship with your child. This helps immensely. It is especially a good reminder for those of us that still have younger children at home while we watch our other children who have launched and are navigating the world. It gives clarity to parenting path, decisions, ideals.
Thinking of all of you with young adults today with love,