In the past few weeks and on 3 separate occasions I’ve been asked by several Moms about 18 year olds, the process of letting go, boundaries and living at home. Since I have grown kids, they must think I’m the expert…I’m definitely not, but I am pretty experienced!
Here are the questions I was asked:
“I’m having trouble letting go of my 18 year old, he/she thinks they should be able to do whatever they want while living under our roof. Like no curfew, and so on. How did you handle this?”
Honestly, this is a more complicated question than it seems. Simple but difficult. Does that make sense?
I have tried to raise my kids in such a way that when the day comes that they turn 18, they need to be able to make responsible decisions, be mature (as much as an 18 year old can be) and I no longer need to take responsibility for their actions and choices. In other words ~ I want to have no regrets for how I parented my child.
With that being said, I make a million mistakes in my everyday parenting. I’m not practically perfect in every way. I have however done my very best to instill a love for God in everyday life. I have tried to the best of my ability to teach them to trust God in all things. We’ve tried to teach them to live their lives according to God’s word and all that is within… to the best of our ability.
These days it’s getting harder and harder for 18 year olds to move out on their own. The financial responsibility is great! So more and more 18 year olds are living at home a little longer.
Some common attitudes and fears that some parents have as their children reach this age are:
- “If they live under MY roof, they will obey MY rules!”
- One parent I spoke with was very regretful and had felt that she had spoiled her daughter too much and now feared that she would not make it on her own.
- They don’t seem at all responsible.
- They are only children!
I realize every family and every situation is different, but ask yourself this “if my child could and would move out today, how could I control them?” You can’t!
We really need to tell ourselves the truth about this phase of our children’s lives and the fact of the matter is simple – they are now adults! According to the law they are. Our pocket books say they are. The IRS says they are. The Armed Services say they are. The Government says they are. They can vote now you know. And I’m pretty sure God says “they are adults now Mom!”
So what is it that holds US back as parents? Why is it so hard for us to see them as adults? After much prayer and thought I created these guidelines in hopes that they may help you to let go a little easier and know that you are not alone.
5 Helpful Guidelines for Letting Go of Your 18 Year Old
- If you really want to make an impact on your 18 year old at this age you need to give them some freedom. That is, if they are showing that they are reasonably responsible. How you would like them to feel when they leave home? Frustrated and running or excited and anticipating? If you need to set some boundaries then so be it, but make them reasonable for a young adult, not for a teenager.
- Don’t have unrealistic expectations. Although they are old enough to make most of their own decisions, their maturity level is going to look very young to us. Remember, they are still learning and growing and bound to make mistakes. We still make mistakes don’t we?
- Make it easy for them to come to you with questions. It’s all a matter of the heart don’t you think? Do you want to be the “know it all” and control your 18 year old. Or do you want them to be able to come to you and ask a question, knowing that you will help them navigate this thing called life with respect for who they are as a person.
- Don’t dwell on all of your past mistakes! There is no parent in the world that couldn’t go back and change a few things. We all make mistakes. Let it go! In the same breath, don’t dwell on all of your children’s past mistakes either.
- God is bigger! In my opinion this age is the HARDEST! It’s a time when everything you’ve taught your child is put to the test. It is also the time when they are free as birds to make any and every decision that is contrary to what you taught and trained them. Oh and they will…even if it’s a small decision! Just remember that God is bigger! He is bigger than anything that we could possibly make up in our heads! Don’t let your fear of the boogie man be perceived as a lack of confidence and faith in your child. They need you behind them 100%.
It is scary to let go of our kids, but we MUST do it with joy, trust, honor and a whole lot of faith! You are not alone Mom of an 18 year old! They will survive and so will you…and someday a parent will ask YOU the very same questions. You know they will.