Whether it’s your firstborn, your last, or a child somewhere in the middle, watching your kids graduate high school is both inspiring and emotional. You know they’re shedding (albeit probably slowly) the last vestiges of the teen years for the strange in-between period of “young adulthood.” And if they’re leaving home for university or to find a job, there will be a hole in your household that will feel odd. Every time a child leaves home, there is an adjustment period. So how can you as a parent help your teen navigate the changes ahead and keep your relationship with them strong?
The following 6 tips will help you in your transition:
- Figure out what your changing role is in their life. This mutual questioning of the purpose and boundaries of your relationship may intensify when they leave home and are faced with a whole new world of freedom and uncertainty. Try to find the balance between holding them accountable for their actions, as you’re still their parent, but also giving them room to grow and make mistakes. Let them know that even though they are not “children” anymore, you still love them and are there for them.
- Whether they’re entering post-secondary education or working full-time, try to talk to them about money and budgeting. Costs for moving out of home can skyrocket quickly, and create family tension. Finances is a key issue that will affect them (and possibly yourself, as well, if you’re contributing to their tuition payment) over the years, and the sooner good habits are established, the better.
- Find the balance – how often should you contact your teen if they are living away from home? That needs to be worked out between the two of you. You’re likely both very busy people, and you may have differing desires of level of contact. Let your teen contact you but don’t be afraid to reach out as well when you want to be in touch.
- Watch for warning signs of changes in mental health – such as being excessively withdrawn, depressed, or anxious, to name a few. Students may experience these states during the sometimes challenging adjustments of living away from home, meeting new friends, facing challenging academics, and still be able to bounce back. Others, however, may be suffering needlessly. Try to be supportive and encourage them to seek counselling if need be.
- Don’t be afraid to feel your feelings about your teen leaving or remaining at home, and be prepared to talk about them with someone if it’s getting to be too much for you. Transitions in families can be challenging – change is hard! BUT,
- Don’t worry too much – you have your own life to live and so does your teen! Focus on your day-to-day routine and remember that before long, this period of change will feel normal.
If you find yourself becoming stressed about the new challenges you and your family have been facing, come in for an appointment and we can work together through this transition.