Homes 205: Letting Your Children Go

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Homes 204: Parenting

Children will eventually become adults, and you need to release your control of them

  • Every parent struggles with the same emotional problem
    1. It starts with a tight grip on their life involving micro-management of every aspect of their day
    2. It should loosen as time goes on and the child develops
    3. It eventually becomes a full release of all control to the child
      • This means that the now-adult is exposed to every possible risk and danger that you’ve thought of
      • If this doesn’t happen, unhealthy codependency and other disturbing psychological issues form
  • As they start gaining independence, it will naturally make you more unhappy
    • Raising children takes far less time than you may have expected, and the fleeting moments can be difficult to let go
    • The best thing to do is redirect your efforts to other things as they need you less and less
    • Eventually, you will be happier once they’ve left, though it doesn’t feel like it now
  • Though it’s hard to do, let them experiment with their own life
    • You only have a limited influence at this point
      • Expose them to drinking alcohol in the safety of your home
      • If they decide to experiment with drugs, let them learn the hard way about it
    • Let them figure out their lifestyle for themselves
      • Don’t pressure them to handle money in a certain way
      • Don’t push them into college or a vocation
        • They need to decide their work on their own
        • If you need to get involved, clarify what you expect and let them make decisions for themselves
      • Don’t pressure them about a relationship
        • If you want them to take a relationship further, they’ll do it when they’re ready
        • Don’t pressure them away from a relationship, they’ll marry who they please
      • Don’t expect grandkids, their family plans are their own business
    • Aim them towards what is best for them, not what you want for them
      • This means giving advice to the limit that they want to hear it, then doing nothing at all
  • Don’t enable bad behavior through paternalism by trying to fix their problems that they can fix themselves
    • Since your children were born they have learned about you, and probably know you better than you know yourself
      • They know what makes you feel for them the most
      • They understand the limits of your hospitality
      • If they know they can take advantage of you and are immoral enough, they absolutely will
    • Anything you do for them as adults should be examined carefully
      • Using your home on a regular basis following their bad lifestyle decisions
      • Borrowing money that they never seem to pay back
      • Doing things with your resources without understanding the sacrifice that you made for it
  • They might cut you off completely
    • If they cut you off, you can’t prevent it
      • Many parents will enable their child out of fear of losing them permanently
      • Ironically, this bad enabling creates a bitter codependency that can harm the relationship
    • If you’ve done a decent job parenting, they are guaranteed to come back around
      • Most of the time, a child that cuts off a parent is expressing boundaries that they don’t feel can be expressed in any other way
      • Take personal responsibility for how you failed, and apologize if they come around again
    • Many times, the way they treat you will be the way you’ve treated your own parents, so the situation often comes full-circle

Change your lifestyle to accommodate their absence

  • Your life doesn’t end when your children move out
  • When your children come back around, they should have their own lives
    • Don’t get too obsessive about the details of their life, especially if you want to give any automatic input
    • The role with them should change, and the best thing to do is to hand off the responsibilities of leading the home to them
  • Go meet new people and find new ways to live life
  • Learn to be a success as a former parent instead of looking back at what has been done
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