As our kids launch into adulthood and start taking control over their own life decisions, it can be tempting to “open the wisdom floodgates” and try to cram for their entrance into the world. We start thinking of all the things we haven’t taught them yet. Are they ready to handle their finances? Will they remember to change the oil in their car? What food will they cook for themselves?
Not to mention, It can be hard for us to see our children stretch their wings and fly off into the big world before them. You may have feelings of worry, loneliness, grief, and even rejection. Can you relate to any of these moms that commented on a recent Instagram post I shared?
- “Dropping off our youngest and I have had this urge to say all the things one last time!”
- “I had to ask my son’s forgiveness for giving my input when I know full well he is capable of adulting!”
- “As we dropped our son off for his second year of college in his first grown-up apartment, I may have reminded him to lock the door behind us.”
- “I’ve been trying to cram all my wisdom into my youngest before he left for his senior year in college. I only overwhelmed him.”
- “I’ve found this season of parenting adult children to be the hardest season of all.”
See? You are not alone! Launching your children can feel like a forced resignation with no celebration.
Whether you are launching your first child or preparing to launch the last, we can all benefit from learning how to let go of our young adults well and allowing them to navigate their own way in the world.
Here a few tips for launching your adult children:
1. Remember that being a parent is part of who you are, not all of who you are.
We tend to think of our children leaving as the end, but that isn’t the case! It’s the beginning of something new. If you were to make a timeline of your life and break it up into childhood, marriage without children, children at home, empty nest, and retirement years, you would see that the time with our children at home makes up a fraction of our entire lives. We have so much more to bring this big, bold, beautiful world in this new stage of life. Your wisdom, experiences, passions, and talents are all what make up the unique human being God created you to be.
2. Share advice only when asked.
It was shortly after our oldest daughter’s wedding that someone asked me how it was being a mother-in-law. I told them that with adult children I’ve learned you now belong to the “keep it shut” club. Your kids are now living their own lives, making their own choices, and their decisions may not be something you like or agree with. Instead of pushing them away with negative comments, disapproving looks, or flat-out saying “I didn’t raise you this way…,” we need to withhold our advice until they ask us for it.
3. Be curious, not critical.
We have a tendency to notice and point out all the things our kids are doing “wrong.” We can easily jump to being too critical, but rarely can we be too positive. As parents, we want our children to be all they can be and too often we think the way to do that is to point out their deficits—the places they need to grow. But in reality, we need to get curious about our children. That means asking questions and showing a genuine interest in their lives while holding back most of the criticisms we may have.
4. Pray, don’t say.
One of the best strategies when launching adult children is this principle right here. In those moments when we are tempted to say something we probably ought not say, we need to pray instead. God is far more powerful than you or me. He has the ability to change our kids from the inside out. We have to trust that He loves us and our kids more than we can imagine and ever understand.
Anytime we pray, we’re releasing our worry and stress and handing it over to God, and we are maintaining the connection with our child by listening more and reacting less.
LISTEN: Pray, Don’t Say | Episode 149
5. Call out the strengths and good things you see in them.
We are never too old to need affirmation from our parents. It’s important to bring attention to the good things you see in your kids such as:
“You showed wisdom and tact in that problem with your coworker. That was tricky.”
“You are such an incredible artist and I’m amazed at the beautiful things you create.”
“You are so thoughtful. Thank you for paying attention to the details of my life and giving me such a meaningful gift.”
There are going to be times when you don’t like decisions your child has made. This could be things like their parenting style, how they handle money, or what jobs they have. Instead of focusing on these trivial things, we need to call out the strengths of our children and all the good things we see in them. Remember, calling out the good you see in them is a powerful gift to their future!
6. Start investing in yourself again. Do things you love!
In your prime parenting years, you were likely stretching your income to feed, clothe, educate, and take care of your children. I know for Mark and I that left little to fund the things that we “liked” to do. Now that your children are out on their own, you have time, energy, and finances to start investing in yourself again. Consider what projects you have put on the back burner. What’s a possibility now that wasn’t five years ago? What have you hoped to make happen “someday?” Make those things a priority!
Your “empty nest” years don’t have to be so empty. It’s true that there are a lot of emotions and transitions that come with launching your adult children, but this time can also be filled with new adventures and an exciting new role to fulfill.
Check out my Empty Nest Full Life Course to get more great tips to Help Your Kids Enter Adulthood Successfully Without Being Gutted by Grief.
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