Your firstborn is graduating from high school this spring. Up to this point, all you’ve been focused on is getting him into the college of his choice…and maybe steering him clear of all thoughts that lead to senioritis. Pretty soon you’ll be preparing for graduation and the huge party you’re throwing and then it will be about getting all the things he’ll need for college and being away for the first time.
Up to this point, he’s counted on you to do all these things with (or God-forbid, FOR) him because that’s what parents do and who they are.
So what becomes of your relationship when your kid leaves home and starts his adult life? You better start thinking about what you want that to look like. It cannot stay the way it is. It just can’t. And that’s a good thing.
Your child will start looking at you like another human being. The conversation you have will be less about giving advice and more about sharing experiences. They’ll be less about asking permission and more about looking for acceptance.
Think about the conversations you have with your friends (that aren’t about your kids…). Think about the conversations you’ve had with your parents over the past 20 years. Is that what you want your relationship to be like with your kids? If not, it’s time to decide what you DO want it to look like.
Boundaries are more things that need attention. Yours and your child’s. Are you welcome to just stop by his dorm room? Maybe not. And you need to respect that boundary. Is he welcome to just come home and do laundry whenever he wants, or would you prefer he let you know when he’s coming? I know they seem small, but these little things are the exact things that can make or break your relationship with your adult children.
Talk about things with your kid before they leave home. LISTEN to the answers you get. The easiest way to avoid ruining a relationship is by deciding things ahead of time and sticking with those decisions.
Your relationship with your adult children can be one of the very best kinds of relationships. Just go in knowing things are going to change. They aren’t kids anymore. And although you’ll always love and worry about them as if they were still kids, the relationship you build from this point on will be one of the most fulfilling relationships you’ll ever have.