My baby girl was home from college for the holidays, but it wasn’t all smiles, giggles, and hugs like I planned. Something unexpectedly happened that triggered me and caused my emotions to go haywire, so to say I was “in my feelings” is a huge understatement.
I noticed she wasn’t her bright and bubbly self either. Most days a wave of despair washed over her, but I could tell she was trying to force herself to appear as if she was fine. Because I’m her mom, I saw past the facade, but couldn’t pull myself out of the dark pit I fell in to help her.
Then out of nowhere she hit me with, “I’m going to leave on Thursday. Are you ok with that?” I told her it was her decision, but on the inside, I was trying to quickly conjure up a plan to get her to stay. There was no way I was going to allow my baby to leave feeling hopeless without doing all I could to help her. With no plan in mind, I finally asked her to stay another day so we could spend some time together. By that day I still wasn’t feeling the best, so I asked her to extend her stay just one more day. She agreed and I continued asking (mostly begging) her to stay each day until she had no choice but to leave on the Sunday she was supposed to leave anyway:)
I knew she needed something that I wasn’t mentally and emotionally able to give her. In fact, neither of us were in a good space to help the other. We respected each other’s time and didn’t try to force our way in. I kept asking her to stay because I knew I had to be there for her before she left. I knew there was something breaking her, but I didn’t want to pry if she didn’t offer.
Finally, we both started to come out of our funky mood. Friday night we bonded over our favorite food, seafood. Saturday, we spent time with our friends who live out of state, then we went to my son’s basketball game, after that we shopped for cheap makeup in Walmart, and finally ended the night talking and bonding while decorating our Christmas tree for Valentine’s Day.
She kept me up until midnight, and even though I was tired, I wasn’t going to bed until she did. Y’all I kept my eye lids lifted to the hills from which cometh my help because I refused to be the one who called it quits first.
“Parenting is hard. Really hard. But God shows us what to do and fills in the gaps if we ask Him. We can’t listen to the world’s answers. And we can’t fall into the trap of trying to be like other moms. Instead, we must absolutely saturate ourselves in God’s Truth and trust the gut instincts He gives us.”
– Lysa TerKeurst
Parenting is hard. Parenting is really, really, reallllly hard!
Not only that, it is also perplexing, sometimes embarrassing, and mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausting.
Just when you think you’ve learned how to parent your child at their current age, boom, they have a birthday and then you must learn how to parent this newly introduced stranger.
I thought all the previous years were tough, especially the teenage years, but the young adult years are no joke friends. While parenting is amazing, the reality is it’s no walk in the park. You really need a good support system and the Holy Spirit to help you through each age and stage, and to keep you out of jail:)
Here are some ways, I’d like to encourage you if you feel like you’re losing your young adult child like I do sometimes:
- Give them space. They have freedom they didn’t have before, so they’ll want to prove they’re competent enough to navigate life on their own.
- Be patient. This is a time of uncertainty and transition for the both of you. Their emotions will be up and down just like their desire to be an independent adult and a “I need you right now” child.
- Give them opportunities to make their own decisions. Support them, without trying to control them, while also being open to discussing the consequences of their decisions with them. Help them come up with some ideas about ways to handle similar situations in the future.
- Give lots of grace. None of us are perfect. Don’t make them feel bad for their mistakes.
- Remind them they must still respect you and any rules you have for your home when they’re visiting or living with you.
- Be flexible and willing to renegotiate expectations to find a common ground (a follow up to #3). Be realistic with your expectations.
- Talk with other parents who are going through the same thing. It helps to know you’re not alone.
- Pray over your child daily during your prayer time, but also let them hear you praying for them sometimes (even if you must call and ask if you can pray with them by phone).
- Educate them about resources available to them in case they don’t feel safe enough to ask you for help, and to help equip them to make their own “adult” decisions.
- Help them to “feel” like a young adult as they journey to adulthood and independence.
- Love on them. They still want your love and attention, just in a different way. Tell them you love them through your words and actions.
- Communicate!! Remind them that you love them and you’re available if you need them, but don’t force them to talk to you. Don’t hesitate to ask if they want you to just listen or if they want your advice.
- Be willing to give advice without being overly critical or judgmental.
- Pick your battles. Your child is trying to explore and learn who they are. Support them as they try to find themselves.
- Don’t beat yourself up over things you didn’t know or things you knew but didn’t do when they were younger or before they left home.
- Ask them about their goals, values, and dreams. Encourage them to meet with career services if they’re in college to help them discuss their career related options.
- Inquire about their emotional health. Encourage them to seek therapy if you feel it’s needed. A lot of college campuses offer resources to help, but there are tons of community resources available as well.
- Encourage them to connect with a ministry who has a young adult ministry. Being a part of community can really help them.
- Tell them things you love about them and help point out their gifts to them.
- Praise them for their efforts and for being brave. It takes courage to venture out on your own as a young adult.
“Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.” – Ephesians 4:2
I’m so grateful my daughter and I let go of our own will and allowed the Lord to have his way in both of us before she left to head back to college. As parents, it’s important that we practice Ephesians 4:2 with our children. “Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.” (NLT) We not only have to be patient with our child, we should also be patient with ourselves. They’re not trying to drive us crazy on purpose, so try not to take it personal. It’s a learning process for everyone involved.
Most of the conversations my daughter and I have right now are about friendships and boys/relationships, but we also talk about things such as finances. Although she was raised in a Christian home, I’m learning not to beat the word of God in her. I’m giving her space to grow as a young adult. It’s hard sometimes because I feel like I know what’s best, but I know the Lord will continue to cover her, guide her to Him and His truth, and help her to see Him in both the good and messy parts of life. So, I submit her to Him. Afterall, He’s the one who is in complete control and will have the final say.
I smile to myself often when I think of her because I know at the end of the day, I still have my sweet baby girl who dug her nails in her face and cried until she threw up when I left her with other people. She just needs me in a different way now, and that’s fine.
I also have to remember that I have difficulty in navigating this complicated world as an adult, so imagine how our children feel being thrusted into this sometimes-scary world of “adulting”. Up until this point in their life we have often sheltered them from many of the troubles of the world; however, we have got to continue to have faith and trust that we have provided a solid foundation that will help them journey well through life.
I know it can be hard to let go after 18 years of parenting, sweet momma, but you’re not letting them go. You’re freeing them to live, learn, and soar. They’ll always fly back to the nest when they need help, and they will always take a part of you with them wherever they go.
If you know of a mom with a college student, or young adult, child will you consider sharing this with them?
Comment below with some tips you have found helpful as you parent your young adult child.
In His Love and Mine,