Children's Health and Wellness

How to Let Go of Growing Kids

It is very important for your children to move from being teenagers to young adults in a way that is healthy for them — and for you.

As your children moved through other stages — for example, from babies to toddlers or from preschoolers to school-age children, your relationship, communication, and parenting style changed. This stage is no different. As your children mature and become more independent, your relationship with them will continue to change. You may be more of a friend and adviser. The keys to making this a positive change are open communication and being flexible.

The teen years and beyond

The relationship with your children changes even more quickly as they become teens. Teens want to be independent, but deep down they also need to be connected. Parents should try to balance increasing freedom with guidelines and structure. For example, set limits on television, computer, and cell phone time or maintain a school-night bedtime. But you can be flexible by making exceptions at times.

When out of high school, your young adult children still need your guidance. This is true whether they are in college or working. And, it continues, even when they are graduating from college or moving on in another way. It just needs to be appropriate to the situation.

Children mature at different speeds, so there are no age guidelines for independence. Most parents feel some sadness or loss as their roles change. Keep in mind that children often struggle with the changes, too.

Parenting tips

Here are some tips to help make this change a healthy one:

  • Talk openly and honestly to your children about your feelings. Encourage your children to do the same.

  • Help your children plan their independent future. If you do it together, it will help lessen the stress of separation. For example, you can help your child select college classes or find his or her apartment. Consider volunteering to help decorate that first apartment, for example.

  • Share your wisdom, but let your children make their own decisions. For example, your child may be excited about moving into an apartment that you think is too expensive. You can help your child by reviewing his or her budget and expenses.

  • Try establishing new or better relationships with your spouse or other loved ones — perhaps by planning more activities together.

  • Talk with other parents who already have been through this stage. Their experiences, both good and bad, and suggestions can help you.

  • If you are having a very difficult time, talk with your health care provider. He or she may recommend treatment, such as counseling.

Online Source: American Academy of Family Physicians. A Guide to Surviving the Teen Years
Online Source: American Academy of Pediatrics. Letting Go for College
Online Source: American Academy of Pediatrics. The Transition from High School to College
Author: Nugent, Tom
Online Editor: Lucuski, Cristina
Online Medical Reviewer: Holloway, Beth, RN, MEd
Date Last Reviewed: 2/3/2015
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