For parents: Tips for parents | Boone Center Programs | Boone Center for the Family | Pepperdine University

For parents: Tips for parents

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Parenting young adults can be a time of great joy and of heartache. It is a blessing to see them succeed, develop responsible independence, and start to form their own lives. It is also painful to see them make destructive choices or pull away. As a parent of a young adult you might wonder: What is my role? Where do I fit into your life now? How do I support you without holding you back?

At Relationship IQ we've talked with hundreds of young adults about their relationship with their parents. Along the way we've noticed that some parenting approaches seem to work better than others during these young adults years. Below you'll find some helpful resources to consider as you prayerfully continue parenting your young adult child.

What's My Role?

You have a very important role to play in the life your young adult child. He/she needs you desperately. The type of role you play is very different than when your child was little and needed you to take care of physical needs and prepare the way. Your child now needs your support in a few essential ways:

  1. Encouragement: Young adults desperately need the encouragement of their parents during this confusing and overwhelming time of life. "En-courage" is to give courage. Their development of courage grows out of their parents' confidence in them to face challenges and be successful. Look for ways to bless your child with a comment about how you appreciate him/her, the good you see, what he/she is doing well. It will go a long way in your relationship and in the heart of your child.
  2. Excitement: Young adults still need you to be interested in and excited about their lives. They value your joy over them. Though experiences might be normal for you, for your child everything is new and exciting. Join your son in his excitement over a new activity. Join your daughter in her delight in a field of study. When your child expresses joy and it is responded to with your pleasure, you encourage him/her to share more of life with you.
  3. Equipping: Doing a task for your young adult child is no longer helpful, for the most part. Teaching or coaching your child how to do things for himself will give him increased confidence and independence. Equip your child to do laundry, taxes, school registration, rental agreements, financial budgets, address an issue with a boss or professor, select good friends, manage time, interact appropriately with adults. Don't cover up for, set timetables, nag, or take care of things that should be dealt with by your young adult child. The boundaries of the relationship have changed. You are not in charge of many of the things you were when they were little. Encourage your daughter by equipping her to do it herself.
  4. Stability and normalcy: Young Adults still highly, highly, highly value the ability to go back "home." Much like a toddler who wanders away to explore his world, and then comes running back to hide behind dad's legs, YAs appreciate a safe place to retreat to. A favorite meal, a stocked fridge, home cooking – not because they are starving, rather because it is comforting, they feel taken care of, safe. They are learning to navigate so much that is unsafe, new, strange, or foreign as young adults. It feels good to come back "home." A place of normalcy and peace. One of the challenges that comes with this is "home" never feels exactly right. They've changed and you've changed and a new normal has to emerge. Yet, "home" can still be a place of peace when there is some consistency, stability, and absence of stress and chaos.
  5. Giving Independence: There is a balancing act between independence and connection. Young adults want to feel loved, but not controlled or overwhelmed. There are several key areas that young adults typically feel a strain with their parents when it comes to developing their independence. Work to realize that they do need independence in these areas and find ways to communicate what you need from them. Often parents make rules without telling their children why. The "why" is of ultimate importance in your relationship with your young adult child. Typically the "why" is a place of love and concern. Here are some areas to pay special attention to when it comes to independence:
    • Time management
    • Space - physical emotional
    • Decision-making 

You play a critical role in the life of your young adult child. You are needed and wanted. Adjusting how you relate to your child and how you parent can make   the relationship grow in beautiful ways.