At every stage of your child’s life, you might feel as though you were bombarded by contradictory information on how to make sure they sleep through the night, eat balanced meals, get enough activity, succeed in school, and more. As your child approaches adulthood, it can feel like this intensity increases, partly because there can be so many different paths that they can take at this stage and partly because the degree of support necessary can vary so much.
Assess Their Practical Needs
First of all, from a practical point of view, what exactly do they need? If they are heading off to college, you might look at ways to help them with the cost, including the possibility of taking out a low-rate private parent loan. You can utilize Earnest college loans for parents that give you the opportunity to shoulder some of the burden they might otherwise take on as student loans that they have to pay off after graduation. Other kids might have different needs. If they are joining the military, you may be able to talk to their recruiter about the support you can offer. If your child is moving out of the house to work full-time, you might be able to help them rent an apartment.
Assess Their Emotional Needs
This can actually be tough for parents to do. It’s not easy to cope with stress as it relates to parenting and let go of your children, and it can be very easy to stay in the role of advisor and confidante if that’s what you’ve always been. At the same time, some kids will probably genuinely need some added support. Your job should be to provide some scaffolding without encouraging or facilitating too much dependence. Your role is to make sure they know that they have your unconditional love, but that doesn’t mean you will solve their problems for them, or that you could even if you wanted to.
One thing you might want to think about and explicitly discuss with your child is how you will continue to communicate when they are living away from home. If your child is very independent, you may end up being the one insisting on a weekly video call, at minimum, to keep up with them. On the other hand, if you are trying to push your kid toward more autonomy, you may want to consider how to gently discourage a barrage of texts that looks to you for approval or advice in every decision they make.
Setting House Rules
If your child is remaining at home while going to school and working, you need to think about what kind of house rules you will set. This can vary based on their circumstances and your own, but most families aim to foster independence when the student lives at home still and expect some kind of contribution to the running of the household, which may or may not involve paying rent. Will there be some kind of plan in place for them to become more independent and move out? How will you handle a clash of values regarding lifestyle? If your kid is moving out but will be spending some time at home, such as during holidays from college, you might also consider whether your roles and expectations might change.