Articles for Parents

Everything listed under: adult children

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    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.

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    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.


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    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.

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    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

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    Setting Boundaries With Adult Children

    You might be the parent of a young adult if you:

    • Still pay their car insurance because your name is on the car title.

    • Have paid for a new tire because they don’t have any money to pay for it. Besides, it's their only way to get back and forth to work.

    • Have argued with them about how much they eat out and they do not understand your concern.

    • Still pay their cell phone bill because they are part of the “family plan.”

    • Saw them really struggling with something and, although you wanted to step in and help, you didn’t.

    Parents who tell their young adults once they have a job, “Congratulations, you are officially off the payroll! Good luck!” are probably in the minority. The majority of today’s parents seem to struggle with letting their kids experience the ups and downs of self-sufficiency.

    Are parents too quick to come to the rescue? Are we too accessible today?

    Allison Bottke’s challenges with her own adult son led her to write Setting Boundaries with Your Adult Children. After years of being her son’s failsafe, she realized she was not helping him.

    “I looked at what was happening around me and came to the conclusion this really isn’t about my son, it’s about me,” says Bottke. “Instead of focusing on what I thought he needed to do, I really needed to focus on changes I needed to make. The steps I came up with led to the acronym – SANITY, which I had a lot more of when I implemented the steps.”

    Here’s what SANITY means:

    • Stop: We need to change how we respond to our kids. Don't try to change them. Stop the money flow. End our own negative behavior. “For so long we were in the midst of drama, chaos and crisis,” Bottke says. "I had to stop letting my son push my buttons and I needed to stop accepting the consequences for his behavior.”

    • Assemble supportive people: Find other people who are experiencing this or who have already been down this road and enlist their support. It is powerful to know you are not the only one.

    • Nip excuses in the bud: It is easy to let excuses coax you into doing things you would not typically do.

    • Implement rules and boundaries: Make a plan, implement it and stick to it. Meet with your young adult and share the plan. Explain to them that, as of this date, you are no longer going to support them financially. Clearly, if you have been participating in this behavior for a while, giving them a timeline with specific dates to work off of is helpful and is an excellent teaching tool.

    • Trust your instincts: If your gut or your intuition is telling you something isn’t right or you shouldn’t be doing this - trust your gut. “For me this meant getting in touch with my own life and fixing the messy person in my life – me,” Bottke says.

    • Yield everything: There is a plan for your child’s life and you do not control it. Swooping in and trying to fix it hinders their ability to learn and grow. Love them and support them, but don’t enable them.

    According to Bottke, this is easier said than done. While it did take time, Bottke says that letting go was very freeing and the right thing to do. Her son has had to face some difficult circumstances, and she is the first to admit it is sometimes hard to sit on the sidelines. But since she has gotten out of the way her son is doing better. Their relationship has improved and she feels better about who she is as a person - and as a parent.