Parenting an adult child: making the transition as smooth as it can be

Finding it difficult to transition from parenting a teenager to parenting an adult? We were, too.

Allow us to introduce ourselves. We are a mom and daughter (otherwise, two moms parenting children of different ages) from the Bolivar area. We have each had vastly different experiences with raising our children. For instance, Sarah was a rebellious child who I put lots of restraints on that didn’t seem to work. Sarah’s children were given lots of freedom, didn’t rebel, and the two that are over eighteen seem to be quite well-adjusted. So which approach was right? We’ll examine this question and more in our upcoming posts.

We’ve seen and overcome a lot of challenges with parenting, as all of you have or will. We’ve succeeded—and failed. We’ve weathered some of the storms you may find yourself facing as your children grow. We’re not parenting experts or child psychologists. We’re just two moms who have gone through the difficult transition of parenting adult children and may be able to offer a bit of advice to facing this challenge.

Now, for a word from someone who IS an expert: Laurence Steinberg, Ph. D., a leading expert on adolescence and the Laura H. Carnell Professor of Psychology at Temple University. In his book, The 10 Basic Principles of Good Parenting, Steinberg offers these words of advice. “Being a parent is a lot like building a boat that you will eventually launch. The building process is gratifying, but so is launching the boat and seeing that what you’ve built can handle the seas. At some point as a parent, you’ve got to start getting your child ready to be launched.”

Wow. That really hits the nail on the head. We want our children to grow up to be responsible, happy adults … but when they do, it’s hard to let go. And each mother has a different experience with each child.

Letting go can be one of the biggest hurdles to overcome when your teenager comes of age, whether they move out or stay at home. And each of those situations presents its own challenges. What rules do we give them, if any, when they become eighteen but remain in our homes? How do we continue to be good parents without interfering when they move out? How do we help them transition into responsible adults?

Other challenges we have faced include and that we’ll address in this new blog series include:

  • What to do when your adult child won’t get a job—or even a driver’s license? (Hint: Among other methods, Sarah told her eldest daughter if she didn’t get a license and a job of her own while living at home, she would have to work where mom worked.)
  • Parenting adults with children of their own.
  • Staying in touch with your adult child—how on earth do you get them to answer those texts?
  • Bringing step-parents into a family with adult children.
  • The difference between grandparenting and interfering—boundaries!
  • How to deal with “empty nest” syndrome.
  • The difficulties of planning things with older children who are hard to reach and mesh schedules with.

We hope you’ll follow along with our posts, gain insight from them, and comment with your own experiences. Until next time, happy parenting from Lori and Sarah!


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