Articles for Parents

Everything listed under: adult

  • Post Featured Image

    Preparing Your Child for the Real World

    Many college graduates will soon be joining the workforce, some for the first time. The transition can be a real shocker as they face their new reality of 8-hour days, specific start times, no more spring breaks and a limited amount of time for lunch. Plus, some workplaces expect employees to work at a rigorous pace that is foreign to many college students.

    In the adjustment phase, young adults may complain to their parents about workplace practices, demanding bosses, irritating co-workers and deadlines, just to name a few issues. This is nothing new for sure. 

    Anybody who has held a job can probably relate, but here’s where things get interesting. In an effort to be helpful, many parents jump right in to deal with the issue at hand. In fact, you might be surprised at just how many parents are quick to take the reins and deal with the issue themselves.

    In a recent survey of parents of children ages 18-28 conducted by Morning Consult, 11 percent of the parents surveyed said they would contact an employer if their child was having issues at work. Of the parents surveyed:

    • 76% reminded their adult children of deadlines they need to meet, including for schoolwork. 
    • 74% made appointments for them, including doctor’s appointments. 
    • 42% offered them advice on relationships and romantic life. 
    • 16% helped write all or part of a job or internship application. 
    • 15% told them which career to pursue.
    • 14% helped them get jobs or internships through professional network.
    • 14% gave more than $500 per month for rent or daily expenses.

    With the possible exception of giving romantic advice, none of these behaviors on the part of the parent are helpful in preparing a young adult for the real world.

    Instead of jumping in to rescue them, it would be helpful to assist them in being prepared to deal with real-life work situations. Here's how you can start:

    • When they encounter a difficult professor, process with them potential ways to approach the professor and have a conversation. 
    • Teach them how to make their own doctor’s appointments. 
    • If they have internship possibilities, rehearse with them how to make the initial phone call or introduction and talk with them about potential interview questions. 

    If they believe they are being treated unfairly or inappropriately at work, get a good understanding of what is happening. Then:

    • Attempt to walk through the situation with them, but realize the situation is not yours to handle. 
    • Ask them what they think they need to do besides quit, which sometimes ends up being an option if nothing else works, and then help them figure out an action plan they can execute by discussing the pros and cons of all viable options. 
    • If you don’t think you have the knowledge or skill set required to help them decide how to move forward, connect them with someone you believe has the knowledge to do so. Avoid the temptation to make the call yourself. 

    It can be painful to watch your young adult deal with difficult and sometimes very complicated circumstances, especially if they are a hard worker and what they are walking through seems unjust. However, it is not healthy or helpful to jump into circumstances they need to learn how to handle themselves. Life is for sure not fair, and this will likely not be the last time they have to navigate dealing with a difficult situation. 

    Whether your adult child is still in college or in the workforce, writing papers for them, calling them to make sure they are awake, reminding them of deadlines or interfering at work does not prepare your child for the reality of living an independent, productive life. Doing these things will make them more dependent on you and less prepared for dealing with what life hands them on their own.

    This article was originally published in the Chattanooga Times Free Press on March 31, 2019.

  • Post Featured Image

    The Dangers of Overparenting Your Child

    The largest college admissions scandal in history has many people shaking their heads in disgust. 

    In hopes of getting their kids admitted to prestigious schools, parents used bribery, paid off test administrators to change test scores and paid athletic directors and coaches to add names as potential recruits for sports teams. This is troubling on so many levels. 

    Many kids actually worked hard to earn their way into college, but they may have lost their place to someone whose parents worked to play the system. This scandal exposes significant problems in the college admissions process, along with another major dilemma affecting many young people today: overzealous parents trying to snowplow the roads of life for their children.

    One parent arranged for someone else to take a college entrance exam for his son. He told the third party it was imperative that his son never know about it. Imagine being the son who thought he earned the score on that test, only to find out from the media that his father made it happen. Talk about robbing someone of their confidence

    Parents who do things like this often say the motivation behind their behavior is wanting the best for their child, but at what cost? Keep in mind the definition of success for one child might look very different for another. Parents who create a false sense of accomplishment for their child aren’t helping; they are hurting. In the end, these young people will pay a hefty price for their parents’ actions whether they knew about their parents’ actions ahead of time or not.

    Warren Buffett once told a group of Georgia Tech students, “If you get to my age in life and nobody thinks well of you, I don't care how big your bank account is, your life is a disaster.” Buffet realizes that money can’t buy love or happiness, nor does it guarantee success. 

    When parents don’t allow their children to fail and learn how to pick themselves up and keep putting one foot in front of the other, they are doing an extreme disservice to their children. Failure is a part of life and can be incredibly motivating when one isn’t afraid of taking risks. Allowing them to experience failure and supporting them as they regain their footing is a very powerful confidence-builder.

    Parents have to ask themselves if the motivation behind the behavior is self-serving. For example, does it just make you look good as a parent or is this in your child’s best interest? 

    If your child has no aspirations to attend college, none of the behind-the-scenes maneuvering you do will change that. In fact, it will likely take a huge toll on your parent-child relationship instead.

    So what can parents do?

    See your child for who he/she is in their gifts, talents, dreams and passions. They will likely have different passions and areas of giftedness that may take them on a path for which you haven’t prepared. You may even be tempted to tell them, “You will never be able to support yourself doing that.” 

    Instead of saying those words, help them know what it will take to succeed. Encourage them and put parameters around where you must draw the line, then be brave enough to let them try. Even if they fail, it doesn’t mean it wasn’t a valuable experience. It also doesn’t mean they can’t change their direction if they decide what they are doing isn’t working.

    Pediatrician and author Meg Meeker shared these thoughts in a blog post addressing this issue:

    “At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter where, or if, your child goes to college. It matters that he is prepared and equipped to lead a healthy adult life. Give him that and you will have given him more than an Ivy League education ever could.”

    This article was originally published in the Chattanooga Times Free Press on March 24, 2019.

  • Post Featured Image

    4 Tips for New Grandparents

    Becoming a new grandparent can be just as complicated as being first-time parents. While you are excited about this new addition to the family, you also have to figure out exactly what your role will be as the grandparent.

    “We have to constantly remind each other that the parents of our grandchildren are inexperienced,” say Tim and Darcy Kimmel, grandparents and the authors of the video series Grandparenthood: More than Rocking Chairs and the book Grace-Based Parenting.

    “We know more because we have lived longer, but that doesn’t mean we should question what they are doing as parents when it comes to discipline, feeding or putting the baby down for a nap. They know their child better than we do. Our role is to encourage, support and be an ally, not a liability.”

    The Kimmels encourage grandparents never to sacrifice the permanent on the altar of the immediate by trying to manipulate situations or trying to control their adult children. If you sabotage the relationship with your adult child by being critical, controlling, petty or catty, you may sacrifice the relationship with your grandchildren as well. These behaviors tend to make people want to back away from the relationship versus embracing it.

    The Kimmels believe grandparents can be most helpful when they operate from a perspective that gives their children the freedom to: 

    • Be different. Just because your kids don’t parent exactly the same way you did does not mean they are doing it wrong. Give them the freedom to be goofy, quirky or weird.
    • Be vulnerable. Be intentional about making your relationship one that allows them to let their guard down, knowing that their moments of weakness and insecurity about being parents won’t be used against them in the future.
    • Be candid. Allow them to be candid with you when you have crossed the line. Being candid is more than being honest; it is thinking about the best interest of the receiver as you share information. If you allow them to be candid with you they are more likely to let you be candid with them as they navigate the parenting journey.
    • Make mistakes. Most of us weren’t perfect in our parenting so don’t place unrealistic expectations upon your children. New parents need support instead of someone questioning their every move.

    “Being a grandparent gives you the opportunity to live the idealistic dream of parenthood where you don’t have to worry about diapers, soccer practice, dance lessons and waiting up for teenagers,” Tim Kimmel says. “Grandparenthood allows you to play a key role in writing the history of a generation that you will someday leave in charge.”

    Let parents do what they do best: worry about diapers, nap times, discipline, etc., and enjoy your role as an encourager to your grown children as well as your grandchildren.

    Click here to read the entire article, which was originally published in the Chattanooga Times Free Press on November 4, 2018.


  • Post Featured Image

    4 Tips for Handling the College-to-Home Transition

    When college students return home for breaks after spending 10 months basically without a curfew, not having to answer to anybody about their comings and goings, and no chores, the homecoming has the potential to be a bit rocky, especially for freshmen.

    “We weren’t exactly sure what to expect when our daughter came home from her freshman year,” says Kim Clausen. “She was used to being on her own. When I asked where she was going and when she would be back, I got looks like, ‘Why do you need to know that?’ We had to re-acclimate to her being home and she had to get used to being with us. We all survived, but it took some adjustment on everybody’s part. Things were definitely different.”

    Planning Ahead for Adjustments Can Help

    Like so many families, the Clausens had settled into a new routine with their two remaining teens at home. Excited about their daughter’s return, they honestly didn't think a lot about making adjustments as they brought her back into the fold.

    “If we had it to do over again, we would have a conversation prior to her returning home about expectations, schedules and the like,” Clausen says. “When she is away she can do what she wants, but when we are trying to juggle work, the schedules of our other two teens and life in general, we need everybody to be on the same page.”

    Clara Sale-Davis also found herself in the same position as the Clausen family. Before her daughter came home, she thought about how to make the transition easier.

    “I remember when I went home for the summer,” says Sale-Davis. “I thought I was going to be running around doing whatever I wanted. Mom would wash my clothes and have dinner ready. I quickly found out I was delusional. While I am honored that my daughter wants to come home for the summer, I wanted to be proactive with her so she would know what to expect.”

    Sale-Davis let her daughter know that while they wanted home to be a safe haven, it would not be a resort. She encouraged her daughter to find a job and told her that chores would be awaiting her. She also discussed what seemed reasonable for everyone when it comes to staying out late with friends.

    “I thought it would be better to have the conversation ahead of time,” Sale-Davis says. “We talked over the phone and I could hear her eyes rolling. It isn’t that I don’t trust her. We just don’t need to worry unnecessarily.”

    Here are some suggestions for making it a pleasant break for everyone.

    • Establish expectations. Know your priorities, communicate them clearly and discuss what is and is not negotiable. Be clear about what will happen if they do not adhere to your expectations.
    • Don’t expect your young adult to have the same mindset they had when they left for college. They have been making decisions for themselves, so encourage them to continue to do so while respecting the house rules.
    • Choose your battles carefully. If you are encouraging them to make their own decisions, realize that they may not make the same decisions you would make for them.
    • Take this time to help your college student understand what it will be like when they are finally out on their own, paying rent, bills and doing their own laundry.

    The transition to home from college can be interesting, to say the least. While young adults are in the process of becoming more independent, they still rely on their parents in many ways - including providing a roof over their head during the breaks - not to mention paying college tuition.

  • Post Featured Image

    3 Ways to Help Your Kids Launch

    I remember it like it was yesterday. She bopped up to the front door of her new school in pigtails, all ready for her first day of kindergarten. After giving her a big hug, I walked back to the car with leaky eyes, feeling all the feels. 

    I was excited for our daughter’s new adventure, but I knew the page had turned and things would be different from that point forward. Beyond knowing numbers, letters and how to spell an 11-letter last name, I hoped we had given her a fierce sense of adventure and thirst for learning that would serve her well through the years. 

    Fast forward to 2010. There I was again, except this time the drop-off was different. She was actually moving into a dorm and we were driving home. Wasn’t this the goal, to work ourselves out of a job? I mean, this is what we’d been preparing her for throughout her life, right? As we drove away, my eyes started leaking again. I thought about all we tried to instill in her from the time she entered kindergarten to high school graduation, in between eye rolls, heavy sighs and being “the only parents who….(you fill in the blank)” and I wondered what actually did sink in. Once again, I found myself praying we’d prepared her for the road ahead.

    Whether your child is heading off to kindergarten or launching from the nest, letting go can be hard. Sometimes it can feel like a real identity crisis, especially since the focus has been on the children for so many years. Now it’s time to pull back a bit and let them gain their footing.

    If this is a first for you, here are some things to help you navigate a new normal.

    • Remind yourself that one of the ultimate goals of parenting is launch. If you need a little motivation, just think about the alternative: a 30-year-old sitting on your couch, playing video games day and night. 

    • Get busy. In the midst of perhaps a tinge of identity crisis, think about all of the things you wanted to do over the years, but never had the time or energy because you were focused on your children’s needs. The silence at home can initially be deafening, but finding something to do with the additional time on your hands can soften the blow of coming home to an empty house. It can also help you avoid second-guessing your parenting and whether or not you have given your child what it takes to be successful.

    • Connect with parents who are a bit beyond you in the parenting journey. Don’t look for perfect parents, though. Instead, look for the ones who haven’t been afraid to let their kids fly, fail and fly again. It’s encouraging to know parenting isn’t about perfection, but about being present and allowing your children to learn and grow into the person they are called to be.

    Just last week my daughter reminded me that she’s 25 and she’s good. I laughed on the outside, but on the inside, maybe not so much. Don’t get me wrong: I love that she is living her life and being responsible, but I think even when your kids are grown, you still look out for them and want the best for them. During a conversation with a dad a few weeks ago about adult children, he said, “Once a parent, always a parent.” That statement is definitely true, but how you engage is very different. Hopefully, your adult child doesn’t need you as much, but they’ll want to be around you because they enjoy your company.

  • Post Featured Image

    9 Tips for Raising Decisive Adults

    Joanie Sompayrac has taught college students for more than two decades. She began to notice a change in her students about 10 years ago.

    “I enjoy teaching and I love my students,” says Sompayrac. “The last 10 years have been really interesting as I have watched students move away from being independent thinkers not afraid to speak their mind. I used to ask questions in class and students would be eager to answer. Today they are terrified to be wrong.

    “I have students in my class who are terrible at accounting. I ask them why they are majoring in it and they say, ‘Because my parents told me to,’ not because they are passionate about the subject. They have bought into the notion that their parents know best.”

    Sompayrac isn’t alone. Colleges across the country are experiencing this same phenomenon. As a result, Julie Lythcott-Haims, former Stanford University dean of freshmen, began to research the surprising trend. You can read about in her book, How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success.

    “Parents are applauding kids at every turn just for showing up versus when they accomplish something,” says Lythcott-Haims. “They are constructing play through play dates. When kids have been raised like this, it is not a surprise that, as young adults, they are still looking for their parents’ approval, direction and protection in college and the world of work.

    “The students were becoming less independent as parents increased control over their children’s lives,” she says. "I noticed that too many students weren’t trying to get their parents off their back; they were relieved to have their parents do the hard work.”

    While both believe that parents mean well in their attempts to help, neither Lythcott-Haims or Sompayrac believes this kind of parental engagement ultimately helps the students.

    “When college students have no idea how to think for themselves, problem-solve and be critical thinkers, that is not a good thing,” Sompayrac contends. “When parents choose their child’s major, intervene in resolving roommate issues or contact a professor about a grade, they are depriving their child of the opportunity to figure it out for themselves. Yet these are the very experiences that help young people build confidence, make mistakes, experience consequences, pick themselves back up and keep going.”

    So, how can you be helpful without being overbearing? Lythcott-Haims offers these tips:

    • Accept that it’s not about you, it’s about your kid.

    • Notice who your kid actually is, what they’re good at and what they love.

    • Explore diagnostic tools such as StrengthsFinder to help your kid discover what energizes them.

    • Express interest and be helpful.

    • Know when to push forward; know when to pull back.

    • Help them find mentors outside the home.

    • Prepare them for the hard work to come.

    • Don’t do too much for them.

    • Have your own purpose.

    Perhaps the greatest way you can prepare children for adulthood is to stop hovering, encourage independent thinking and help them fulfill their calling in life.

  • Post Featured Image

    Tips for the First Trip Home From College

    “I remember going home for Christmas my freshman year,” says Akeyla Madison. “I had been on my own for five months and felt good about how I was doing. When I arrived home, I was surprised to found out I would be sharing a room with my sister who is six years younger than me because my room had been turned into a storage room. I’m pretty sure my mom didn’t think that would be a big deal.

    “My mom also wanted to know where I was, who I was with and what I was doing. I felt smothered and honestly couldn’t wait to get back to college and my freedom.”

    While parents and family members are excited to see their freshman come home for the holidays, the transition can be complicated for everybody, especially if expectations are not clear on the front end.

    “I didn’t know ahead of time I would be sharing a room with my little sister,” Madison remembers. “Because there was such an age difference, it made me uncomfortable. My mom didn’t want me staying out late because she was afraid I would wake up my sister when I came home. We survived each other, but it wasn’t pretty.”

    Her sophomore year, Madison decided to try something different. She called her grandmother who lived close by and asked to stay with her over the winter break. 

    “That worked out a lot better on so many levels,” Madison says. “My mom and I got along better. There was no tension between my sister and me, and I think we all enjoyed the holidays more.”

    Madison is now preparing to graduate. When asked how she would advise parents and college students preparing for their first long break together, she shared the following:

    Communication is critical. Everybody needs to talk about expectations for being together before the break begins. Talk about the family plans and ask your young adult about their plans for the holidays. If you expect them to be at certain events, be clear about that. Discuss expectations for helping out around the house, their friends coming over to visit, food in the refrigerator, coming and going, meals, etc. These things can create unnecessary drama due to unspoken expectations on both sides.

    Flexibility is a good thing. Being away at school has allowed your young adult to use many of the skills you taught them at home, but coming back home is an adjustment for everybody. If the parents and college student are willing to adjust, things will probably go a lot better. It’s important to remember that the family has created their own new normal without the college student and the student has probably grown in their independence - which is the ultimate goal, right? Just because they return home does not mean things will or even should revert back to the way they were before they left. Some students choose to earn extra spending money for the next semester. This can throw a monkey wrench into holiday plans as well. 

    Mutual respect goes a long way. When learning to dance a new dance, it’s easy for everyone involved to get frustrated or say and do things they will ultimately regret. Respecting each other while trying to work things out goes a long way. For the college student, it means realizing you aren’t company. Expecting people to wait on you hand and foot and make adjustments based on everything you want to do isn’t realistic or respectful. For everybody, you still have to respect what you don’t understand.  

    “Looking back, I realize I felt more like an adult, but my mom saw me as just 18 and had the life experience to know all that could potentially go wrong,” Madison recalls. “That created tension between the two of us. At this point I think I have a better understanding of why my mom was concerned and I can clearly see that she wanted the best for me. I think if we had actually done the things listed above, the transition would have been smoother for both of us.

    “Believe it or not, most of the time we really are paying attention to the things you say and are teaching us. We may do some stupid things along the way, but for the most part we want you to see that we are capable.” 

    For tips on parenting, get our E-book, "How to be a Guide for your Teen." Download Here

  • Post Featured Image

    How to Prepare for College Break and the Holidays

    Many families will experience a new normal when college students arrive home for their first extended break. The thought of sleeping in their own beds, eating good food and resting for about a month sounds amazing. But parents and college students alike will wonder about a few things, like:

    • Should I spend time with family or catch up with old friends?

    • What rules do we play by now?

    • And, are curfew and other details really necessary?

    While parents and students both look forward to this time, “It’s complicated” could definitely describe how things will go without conversations ahead of time. If you want to lay the foundation for a great visit, don't wait until the last minute to prepare. Here are some helpful suggestions for both parents and students.

    For Parents:

    • Re-think the rules. It is hard to be treated like an adult at school and like a kid at home.

    • Be interested in their new friends and their happenings at school.

    • Remember that it is an adjustment for everybody, not just you.

    • Recognize that college students feel a lot of pressure when they come home. They want to spend time with their family and their friends.

    • Be creative. Instead of complaining about the time they spend visiting friends, throw a party and invite everybody to your house. That way you can catch up on the latest, too!

    • Anticipate that your student will need some rest. They have just completed exams. Try to be understanding if they are a little grouchy the first couple of days.

    • Warn younger siblings that things will probably be different and be aware of their feelings, as they too are dealing with change.

    For Students:

    • Even though you have had your freedom, be respectful to your parents. If they ask you where you are going and when you will be back, tell them because it is the right thing to do. If you want to be treated like an adult, act like one.

    • Ask your parents if they are open to rethinking some of the house rules. If they are, offer constructive suggestions and don’t push the edge of the envelope.

    • Remember, your parents have been away from you. Be open to spending time with them. Answer their questions about school and your new friends.

    • Make the most of your visit with your parents. Don’t take them for granted. You never know what tomorrow will bring.

    • Many parents will still have to get up early and go to work. Consider how your actions could impact their ability to get good rest and do their job.

    • Try to balance your time at home and with your friends. (Sleeping in your own bed doesn’t count as time spent with your family).

    Be encouraged. Although it can happen, heading home during the holidays doesn’t have to cause tension. A few conversations, along with some compromise on both sides, could set the stage for some great memories this holiday season.

    For tips on parenting, get our E-book, "How to be a Guide for your Teen." Download Here

  • Post Featured Image

    Young Adults Living with Their Parents

    Do you remember your young adult years? You know, the times when you ate Ramen noodles and searched for spare change beneath the couch cushions and between the car seats because you were a starving student or just starting a new job.

    There is nothing like knowing you are just barely making it - but still surviving - on your own. Looking back, you may realize those hard years helped you appreciate what you now have.

    The landscape looks vastly different than it did twenty years ago.

    According to a 2016 Pew Research Center report, more 18- to 34-year-olds are living with their parents. Researchers speculate this is fueled in large part by the number of people choosing to put off marriage.

    If you think back to your teenage years, most teens couldn’t wait to be out on their own. Even if they didn't have a job, they were determined to prove they could make it independently. So why are so many young adults choosing to live at home these days?

    In The Many Reasons More Young Adults Are Living with their Parents, Naomi Schaefer Riley, a weekly columnist for the New York Post whose writing leans toward higher education, religion, philanthropy and culture, raises this question: Are parents doing enough to equip their children to leave the nest?

    She surmises that young Americans may be living in their parent’s basement in part because they don’t have the economic or social tools to set out on their own. In a desire to protect and love their children and to shield them from experiencing potential problems in the world, parents may be unintentionally creating more obstacles for them.

    This raises some important questions for parents to consider as they prepare their children to leave the nest.

    • Are you teaching your teens how to develop networks or do you encourage them to rely solely on your networks? Guiding them through the process of building their own network is a powerful step toward independence.

    • Do you allow your child to fail and learn from their mistakes?  Or, do you take care of the consequences so they don’t have to experience the pain? Figuring out how to move forward in spite of failure builds confidence.

    • Does your teen understand the definition of and the value of a good work ethic?  Employers constantly lament many young people's understanding of punctuality or being respectful and motivated to do a good job.

    • Have you encouraged your teen to find a job without doing it for them?  It's important to teach your teen how to look someone in the eye and put their cellphone away. Help them learn how to dress appropriately and what questions an interviewer may ask. These things are far more helpful for your teen in the long run than if you pick up the phone and make a call for them.

    Except for special circumstances such as disability, emergencies or providing care to parents, is allowing adult children to live at home really the best thing for them? Part of launching into adulthood is learning how to navigate challenges and celebrate accomplishments. As hard as it may be, encourage them to learn the meaning of perseverance, relentless pursuit and independence.

    For more insight on parenting, download our E-book "4 ways to stay connected after Baby" Download Here

  • Post Featured Image

    A Parents' Holiday Survival Guide

    The song says it’s the most wonderful time of the year. And, in a lot of ways, it is wonderful. Something about the season seems to bring out the best in many folks. However, too much of a good thing can lead to serious meltdowns for children and parents alike.

    As you prepare to enjoy a wonderful season with your family, here are a few things to consider ahead of time.

    • When it comes to your expectations of your children, keep them realistic. During the holidays, everything they are used to in the way of bedtime, the food they eat, who they spend time with and more gets thrown to the wind. While it is tons of fun, children can only take so much before they move into overload - and we all know that never ends well. Everyone will be happier if you can keep some semblance of routine and structure.
    • Talk with your children about your plans for each day. Just like adults, it’s helpful if kids know what to expect. Keep it simple. Share the highlights.
    • Keep your cool. When your child has a meltdown, it can be a challenge for you to not have one, too. Yelling and getting angry will only make matters worse, so stop and take a deep breath. Then, if possible, take your child to a quiet place where they can regain control.
    • If you can, try to spread out the celebrations instead of doing everything in a 48-hour period. While it’s hard to say no to the grandparents, putting boundaries in place can make the celebrations more enjoyable for everyone, even if you celebrate on a different day. A note to grandparents: Your adult children often find it difficult to tell you no without feeling guilty. Asking your grown children what works best for them could really help them as they plan to celebrate.

    For those in the midst of co-parenting:

    • Talk about the fact that transitions are difficult. Sometimes just saying, “I don’t have a choice and you don’t have a choice; now how are we going to make the best of this situation?” can make things better for your child.
    • Make a plan. Discuss how to make the transition easier. Then use your time together to make it a special celebration.
    • Be prepared. Help them understand the possibility of a last-minute change in plans. Ask them what they would like to do instead and acknowledge the pain they may feel.
    • Stay in the parent role. While it might be tempting to be your child’s buddy, that is not what they need from you. It is very difficult to go back to being the parent once you have crossed that line. Before you make or change plans, think about how it will affect your child.
    • Children will follow your lead. If you have a bad attitude about the holidays, your children will probably follow suit. Set a positive mood for a holiday to remember.

    Planning for bumps in the road beforehand can reduce holiday stress in your family and increase the chances for a joyful holiday. Wherever you find yourself, choose now to make the best of the days ahead.

  • Post Featured Image

    Adulting is Hard

    Throughout her teenage years, she often dreamed about what life would be like when she became an adult. The idea of staying up as late as she wanted, doing what she wanted when she wanted to do it, and not answering to anybody in authority over her made her want to fast forward to “that” day.

    Then it happened. She was out on her own. Rent, renters insurance, utilities, groceries, a car payment, car insurance, gas, an unexpected tire purchase, doctor visits and more were staring her in the face. This was not at all what she had in mind all those years ago when she dreamed about being out on her own.

    She grabbed her phone and texted her parents: “#adultingishard, I don’t like all this pressure. What happened to my paycheck?”

    No doubt you have seen some of the "adulting is hard" comments on social media:

    • Coffee, because adulting is hard.

    • Adulting is hard. I don’t get a reward when my bedroom is clean.

    • I stay up really late for no reason. Adulting is hard.

    According to Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, professor and author of Emerging Adulthood, this young adult is not alone. Many in their 20s find “adulting” difficult, which tends to create a bit of anxiety for parents who are ready for their adult children to take on more responsibility.

    In his book, Arnett discusses "emerging adulthood" as a new life stage between adolescence and actual adulthood - 30 is the new 20. The 20s have become a period of exploration and instability where they are trying out all kinds of things before settling down. 

    For those in their 20s, about 40 percent move back home with their parents at least once, and they go through an average of seven jobs. Arnett contends that emerging adulthood is a worldwide phenomenon.

    Parents who are excited to see their young adults launch wonder, "What happened?"

    Things have changed! Adulthood is now viewed with a lot of ambivalence. Once you commit, you are there for the rest of your life. The social, cultural and economic conditions have changed a lot, too. Fifty years ago, entering adulthood was viewed as a big achievement. People looked forward to the stability adulthood provided. Now, 50 years later, people don’t look at adulthood in the same way. They see it as stagnation. They think their parents don’t do interesting things anymore. Adulthood doesn’t look very fun. 

    If you are reading this and freaking out a bit, breathe. According to Arnett’s research, these emerging adults eventually take on adult responsibilities. It’s just a bit later than perhaps you expected.

    What can you do to be helpful?

    Part of the reason adulthood feels so overwhelming is because for many, they literally go from having everything done for them and paid for to feeling like they are doing it all on their own. Maybe things wouldn’t seem so scary if young adults took on more responsibility over time versus in one fell swoop. 

    Anybody who is currently adulting can testify that it is hard, but a lot of freedom, adventure, challenges and fun comes with this stage of life. Perhaps there is a takeaway for those in this stage as well. If young people think those living in adulthood seem stagnant and boring, perhaps it is time for those who are actually adulting to show that responsibility, accountability and commitment don’t necessarily equal a dull, stress-filled life. Many believe that living in the adult season of life allows for a lot of freedom to establish who you are and how you want to live life.

    The young lady who dreamed about the freedoms of adulthood, in reality, wasn’t that far off. People think that freedom equals no responsibility, but in truth these responsibilities are what give you freedom.

  • Post Featured Image

    8 Ways to Celebrate the Empty Nest

    The house is SO quiet and your heart feels a bit heavy. You have definitely shed some tears. You have also stayed awake wondering if you prepared them well to be successful out on their own. Now you consider what you will do with so much extra time on your hands.

    While grieving what is no more is certainly appropriate, there is also cause for celebration. Although you may not feel like it, your first move should be to celebrate your accomplishment. You have spent years of your life focused on preparing your children to launch. Now you actually have time to breathe and celebrate!

    Parents who have successfully made the leap to the empty nest don’t deny that the first few weeks and sometimes months are a bit tricky. But over time, they eventually found their groove and embraced a new normal. About six months into the empty nest, one parent stated, “If people knew how amazing the empty nest is, they would never divorce.”

    In spite of the emptiness you may feel at the moment, here are some reasons to celebrate the empty nest:

    • You can purchase groceries and open the refrigerator door two days later to find you still have food. Or, you can decide you aren’t cooking another meal because you don’t have to.

    • Instead of having to search for your shoes, scissors or tools, they will be where you put them the last time you used them.

    • Walking around the house naked is perfectly acceptable. An empty-nester said one of their favorite things about this season was being able to get their morning coffee in the buff with no worries about who would see them.

    • If you decide you want to go to bed at 8:30, there is nothing stopping you. Seriously, many parents talk about feeling exhausted after so many years of being on the go. Allow yourself some extra shuteye. How much better you feel after a few good nights of solid rest might surprise you.

    • You clean your house and it actually stays clean for more than a few hours.

    • Vacations in the off-season are now a possibility.

    • After years of feeling like you are ships passing in the night, you can reconnect with your spouse. If you are single, you have time to pamper yourself without feeling guilty about it.

    • Instead of always focusing on everybody else’s needs, you can consider your own needs and how you would like to spend your time. Perhaps you want to head back to school, change jobs or volunteer with a group you have had no time to work with until now.

    While there are many reasons to celebrate the empty nest, don’t let it shock you if embracing them early on is a challenge. When your identity has been wrapped up in parenting for at least 18 years, it can be difficult to regain your footing. Don’t be embarrassed about talking with those who are further along or asking for their support.

    And, if you are thinking, “But I actually enjoyed cooking for everybody and I kind of miss searching for things. It feels odd not to be needed,” that’s okay. Your kids still need you, but in a different way. Plus, you’ll still have plenty of opportunities to cook and clean whenever they come home to visit, or down the road when grandchildren arrive. You can invite your family over whenever you want. On the other hand, you might decide to visit them instead - if your new schedule will allow it.