Watching our children fly the nest is both rewarding and worrying. While we are excited to see our offspring enter a new phase of their lives, we are also naturally anxious about the future. Will they be happy, successful, contented? All the hopes and dreams we had when they were born are now in their hands and we have to let go of the reins. Learning how to manage our concern and worry is the next phase of our parenthood.
When you've been responsible for everything in your child's life, from choosing their clothes to making their meals, it can be difficult to let them make their own decisions, particularly if the consequences are dangerous. It is frightening to watch them as they move into adulthood, taking more and more risks. However, just as you learnt to let go when they took their first steps or wobbled on their first bike, you can learn how to hand control of their adult life over to them.
Worry can be a negative emotion, leading you to become preoccupied with worst case scenarios instead of concentrating on the positive opportunities opening up for your children. Fear of letting go and allowing people to make decisions for themselves can stifle relationships with adult children. One way to defeat this fear is to accentuate the positive. Look at the many successful decisions your adult child has made and celebrate their resourcefulness and integrity.
Acknowledge your child's independence and take pride in the fact that you are responsible for it. All your hard work in parenting shines through in their character. Trust them to have learnt from your input and in their ability to make wise decisions. Respect the fact that they have the right to make mistakes, knowing that it is you they will come to for advice if they regret their actions. Your trust will be reciprocated.
Try to see things through your child's eyes. They might see your intended helpful advice as meddling interference. Remember how exciting it is to be responsible for your own decisions and allow them the space to grow into adulthood independently. Explain how difficult it is for you and how you are still learning how to let them go. Keep communications positive by celebrating their achievements and respecting their individuality.
Parenting does not end when your child reaches adulthood. Instead, the child-to-adult relationship evolves into a mutually respectful adult-to-adult one. You can still offer guidance and support while accepting your child's imperfections and respecting their differences. Share your experience and wisdom without needing to control their every move and your worry will turn into pride at your adult child's independence.
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