One of the goals of parents is to raise children to grow into independent, responsible, and caring adults. Parents love their children and want to help them on their journey. Some parents struggle with how much help they should provide once their children are adults. Most parents have hopes and dreams for their children. As children grow into adulthood they may have the same hopes and dreams, but many times, they have hopes and dreams that differ from their parents. When should parents hold on, and when should they let go? When should they help, and when do they step back and let the children fly on their own? Here are a few ideas and tips for families:
• Do be supportive of their goals by listening and caring. Consider yourself an outside advisor, much like a consultant. Do not be offended when all or any of your advice is not taken.
• If you are paying for all or part of your children’s education, expecting them to work and contribute is not unreasonable. Having everything given to them without working for it, does not foster responsibility.
• If your adult children live in your home, respecting each other is essential; but it is still your home and your rules and guidelines need to be honored. If they are over 18, they should be contributing financially. You can decide to use this money for household expenses or place all or part of it into a savings to be given to them at a later date. This savings can then be given as a wedding, graduation or housewarming nest egg when your child leaves the nest. Adult children should be helping with chores, and you should definitely not be doing their laundry.
• If your adult children have gotten themselves in financial or legal difficulties, do not bail them out. Otherwise, their consequence becomes your consequence; and they have not learned the pain of their poor choices. If you rescue them once, they will be asking you again and again. This does not mean we can never help our kids, because at times, things happen that are beyond our control. You know your children best, if they have a track record of good choices and being responsible, use your best judgment.
We will always be our children’s parents, but the best blessings of them becoming adults are that they can become some of our best friends. Prayers for many years of friendship!
If you are experiencing difficulty in knowing when to hang on and when to let go of your children, we have a great team of therapists who can help you on your journey.