Learning to be more accepting and to foster independence can be tricky as we watch our children navigate challenges during their college years. Only a short time ago, our entire job was making decisions about meals, school and their social lives. As they transition from children to young adults, it’s hard for parents to refrain from providing that same level of protection and guidance. It can be even more difficult when they reach out to vent, seek support and look for affirmation.
So how do we adapt to a new normal, allowing our children to navigate challenges and accept they are not ours to solve? My first recommendation to parents with children leaving the nest is to view your young adult child as you would a new colleague at work. Try to see them as an emerging adult who must learn and experience life’s trials and tribulations.
The key to acceptance as they go off to pursue new endeavors is to remember that—while your child may falter, feel lost, seek advice and approval—going through difficult times knowing with an accepting and supportive parent is how they are able figure it out on their own. When children understand that we accept them and their choices, and love them regardless, they also come to realize that when life presents challenges, they are able to get through and succeed.
By // Dr. Lisa Strohman, JD, Ph.D.
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