I’m not sure how to tell you this but, your young adult is now a young adult. They have been off to college doing whatever they wanted to. Going to bed when they get ready, eating what they want, hanging out with friends, and making decisions about their wellbeing, relationships, and life. You, too, have been relieved of some of your duty to parenting them by not making these decisions for them. It seems to me they have done okay as they are returning to you alive and perhaps well. “Well” is up for discussion because going to college produces stress and mental health issues so many parents are unaware of but that’s another topic to explore.
As they return home, to your home, their home, they may need some help adjusting and you, too. Brace yourself, they have friends they want to see, places they want to go, and things they want to do that do not involve you. This may make you feel left out and unwanted. This is the moment you may need to remember; those feelings are valid but they are not facts about how your young adult feels about you.
I have learned not to plan out my daughter’s schedule and not to hog all of her time. Keyword, learned. I didn’t think about or take into consideration the things I mentioned above. Also, they may want to lay around the house and that’s okay. College life has been hectic. I usually give my daughter two weeks to just chill and semi-chill. The first week I don’t require anything. The second week she has to begin helping with dishes, cleaning and meals. I don’t tell her when to do her laundry or if she should fold it or not. She’s been doing laundry at school. HER WAY. I don’t tell her to eat. I only ask that we eat dinner together if she doesn’t have plans to be out because that’s been a staple in our family.
She doesn’t have to check with me for permission to make plans with her friends. I only require to know where she is going and that she comes home no later than 2 a.m. Yes. 2 a.m. and she’s usually back before then. She checks in or I check in on her from time to time while she is out. She texts to let me know she is on the way home. This is something we both came to an understanding on. I think it’s important to tell your children, sincerely, why you want to know where they are and who they are with. It’s okay to tell them you care and worry about their safety and it eases your mind to know they are okay. I had to explain I am not coming where you are or I’m not trying to monitor your every move but, if you need me or something happens, I will have a general idea of where you were. What if I didn’t let you know I was going to a particular mall and you haven’t heard from me in 3 hours? Honestly, wouldn’t you call me? Of course, she would. I am pretty sure she goes places in between. We all do it at times.
I ask for us to spend some time together. Well, I had to do this in the beginning and now it’s just expected. I throw out some ideas or events in the city we could attend together or just a movie or binge night. We get our laptops and game (Yes, I do some gaming) or surf social media. We snack and just vibe. She usually outlasts me staying up. Also, I let her know ahead of time what family events are happening and she usually knows which ones are negotiable.
We talk about moods and attitudes. I have them. You have them. They have them. If I don’t want to be bothered, if I have something on my mind, if I am dealing with anxiety or depression, I say so. If I don’t know what I’m feeling, I say that, too. We have learned to ask, “Would you like to talk about it? Do you need me to just listen or give advice? Is there anything I can do for you?” Now, I don’t advise talking about certain things with your young adult. They have their own burdens but using wisdom to let them in on some things is okay. I think it lets them know that you’re human and not just a parent lol. My daughter has actually given some great advice and peptalks.
This summer, I am trying something new. I wanted to set an intention or a tone to the summer. What is it that I want from the summer and what is it I want to give? I asked her to think about the same thing. So often we have different ideas on what we want our summer or vacation or time off to be about (when we have days off not for appointments or illness). Do you want it to be filled with activities? Do you want to have some activities or a few major activities? Do you want to lounge around? Travel extensively or not at all? What’s the tone or mood for this summer? We asked her to get some rest this summer as next semester is her last before graduation. She’s been working on campus and during the summer at home. She plans to work less. I encourage her to enjoy time with her friends and family more this summer.
All of this really takes a mindset change and if you have young children, it is pertinent you develop a deeper relationship with your child other than I am your authority figure, your protector and provider. Get to know your child. Your ever-changing child. Share some life lessons that come not at a time of frustration or in the form of a teaching moment once they have done something wrong. Listen to thier ideas and don’t be so quick to correct, shoot them down, or judge. I told my daughter she could tell me anything. She could call me about anything. If she needed a ride home from a party I would come and get her and her friends without yelling and fussing. I would indeed have a talk the next day. So far, I haven’t had to pick her up from a party but she does call about anything and I have to refrain from judging or seeing her as me. She is not me.