How do you mother adult children? When they come home to visit after college, it is all too easy, says Ronnie Citron-Fink, to fall back into the emotional trap that they are home for good. In fact, it can be even harder to let them go, as you have found your relationship with this adult child is more equal and the give and take more fun. So, when they start to pack their bags to head back to their apartment, or grad school, or that paid internship, remember these words you need to let go, once and for all:
- Control: You are no longer in charge. Yes, your adult child will make mistakes, but they need to learn from those mistakes on their own time. It will hurt to not jump in for the rescue, but you need to remember you raised them with all the tools they need to succeed. Trust that you feathered that nest well enough, that its current emptiness is a sign of parenting success.
- Expectations: It is their life, not yours. Those expectations you have – 6 figure salary, marriage and children, world travel, etc. – are just that – YOUR expectations. Sit back and enjoy the ride as you observe your adult child develop their own expectations. You might be pleasantly surprised!
- Intervention: It’s only natural to want to step in. However, let your adult child come to you. Wait for the text, then actively listen. Don’t try to solve.
- Detach/Withdraw: Hard? Yes. Necessary? Yes. Be available, be present when asked – otherwise, back off.
- Love: You may choose more distance, but always love. Love can be felt through support, listening, not judging, and celebrating even the most trivial accomplishment. And, don’t forget to love yourself. When it’s time for the adult child’s visit to end, and you feel the pangs of your empty nest return, give yourself a hug and a pat on the back – they are independent because you did your job well.