How do we strike that delicate balance and stay connected without undermining our young adult’s sense of independence?
Where is the line between caring advice and unwanted intrusion?
What is helpful, and what is enabling?
What do we do when we anticipate that they are making decisions that will close doors for them that they are not aware of?
How and when do we tell them that we are concerned, when they are not asking for our opinions or advice?
And what is the age range of “young adults” anyway? It seems at times it can span the range of 15 to 35!
The relationship between parent and child is always challenging, requiring continuous change and a willingness on the parents’ part to constructively adapt and accommodate at every stage along the way. With young adults, the issues of autonomy, accountability, identity, money, boundaries, and planning for the future are all at play. Young adults need our support, but not our control.
In The Defining Decade, Dr. Meg Jay, a clinical psychologist and professor at the University of Virginia, writes about the major themes of work, relationships, body and brain – and why the twenties matter. How young adults shape their lives is different than when their parents were in this same phase of life. I work with parents to help navigate these issues so that they can discuss them in a genuine and informed way.
How do you move from being your child’s parent, to your young adult’s advocate, champion, companion, mentor, and guide?
Dr. Jeffrey Arnett is one of the leading authorities on the subject of young adults. In his book, Getting to Thirty: A Parent’s guide to the 20-Something Years, he writes about how to celebrate and encourage the strong bond that young adults still want to have with their parents. He also talks about the need for parents to understand the “essential art” of staying connected while also stepping back.
I find that the most effective way of communicating with young adults as a parent, is in fact, an art. It is not only what we say, but very much how we say it and when. The timing and tone are crucial, and can change the dynamic from one of resistance and hostility to understanding and compassion for both parents and young adults alike.
The stress of change and uncertainty make life challenging and complicated for both generations. But this also can be a time of new freedoms and discovery for the entire family – as young adults feel confident and encouraged to branch out, explore, and find out who they are, and how they want to live their lives.
- Bowen Family Systems Therapy
- Minuchin Structural Family Therapy
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT)
- Fixed versus Growth Mindset
- Attachment-based therapeutic approaches
- Interpretive Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)
- Solutions-Focused Therapy
- Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy (AEDP)