Homes 205: Letting Your Children Go

Back To Main
Homes 204: Parenting

Parenting teenagers is a less involved experience

Teens still want to connect, but they also want to assert their independence

  • Your job as a parent is to maintain connection differently from when they were younger
  • Try treating them like a friend more than a child

Instead of managing minutiae, manage them like an employee

  • Discuss large long-term goals instead of small ones
  • Manage their stress and sleep (about 9.5 hours a night)

Discipline becomes complicated when children grow

  • Spanking, grounding, and taking away privileges usually stop working by the time people become teenagers
  • If a child starts publicly throwing a temper tantrum, applaud and praise them loudly to draw attention to their disgrace
  • Call a family meeting by unplugging the Wi-Fi router and waiting in the room with it
  • From about ages seven to sixteen, you can threaten to sing loudly in public if they’re misbehaving
  • Make them wear a shirt with a threatening photo of you and a warning about dating your teenage daughter
  • If your daughter is wearing ridiculous or scandalous clothing, wear it with them with a sign on your back saying “ask my kid if they still think (clothing) is sooo cute”

Children gaining independence usually makes parents unhappy

  • Raising children takes far less time than you probably expected and reconciling the past can be challenging
  • As your children need you less and less, redirect your efforts to other endeavors
  • Though it’s hard to believe, you’ll eventually become happier once the children have left

Children mature biologically into adults, even if they don’t listen to you

  • At age twelve a child is biologically an adult sexually and mentally, even without any maturity
  • Children still hear what you say, even when they don’t appear to
  • You can’t force children and young adults to change, but you’ll be tempted to try

You can either let them experience adult life in the safety of your influence or wait until they’re completely away from you

  • Expose them to alcohol in the safety of your home
  • Let them learn from the world about drugs if they choose to experiment with them
  • Expose them to every bit of worldly information you can, including things you feel may destroy their innocence

Keep yourself savvy about popular culture

  • Even if you don’t care, you’ll publicly embarrass them
  • In this age of social media, anything you say could turn into a humiliating meme

Against your intuition, let them discover life beyond you

By the time your children are teenagers, you only have a limited influence on them

Aim them toward their best interests, not what you want for them

  • Advise to the limit they want to hear it, then do nothing else
  • If you unnecessarily involve yourself, they will grow to resent you and everything you do

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

  • Clarify what you expect, what’s available to them, and let them freely decide
  • They must make career decisions without your intervention

Don’t pressure them about a relationship

  • Share your opinions, but don’t give advice
  • They’ll take their relationship further when they’re ready, and you don’t know issues they haven’t shared with you
  • They’ll marry whomever they please, so don’t pressure them away from a relationship
  • Their family plans are their own business, so don’t expect grandchildren

Don’t fix what they can manage on their own (paternalism)

Your children have learned about you since they were born and probably know you more than you know yourself

  • They know what to say to trigger your most severe feelings
  • They understand how far your hospitality goes
  • An adult child with enough moral flexibility is guaranteed to take advantage of their parents

Carefully examine anything you do for your adult children

  • Consistently offering your home following their poor lifestyle decisions
  • Loaning money they never seem to pay back
  • Taking your resources without considering how much you sacrificed for it

All children eventually become adults

Every parent struggles with the same emotional turmoil

  1. Parenting an infant or toddler requires micro-management of every aspect of their day
  2. Over time, the parents’ roles diminish as the child develops independence
  3. Parents eventually fully release control to their child

You must fully release your children

  • An adult child becomes fully exposed to every conceivable risk and danger
  • Unhealthy codependency and other mental disorders develop when parents don’t fully release
  • Sadly, most parents don’t fully release control of their child

As a parent, you’ve failed your adult children

Even if you did your best, you still harmed your children

  • Psychological scars you didn’t realize you inflicted
  • Experiences you exposed them to which harmed them
  • Lessons you taught them inadvertently that damaged them in their adult life

You must wholeheartedly apologize to them to move on

A. Reconcile your emotional damage

  • Your child did what you taught them and didn’t do anything out of malice to harm you when they were little

B. Admit to yourself that you’ve hurt your child

C. Prepare yourself for the pain you’ll feel when you confront them

D. Carefully select a neutral place and time to meet with them

E. Ask for their permission to talk about something personal to you

F. Share with them that you realize you’ve harmed them

  • Explain how much you know to the fullest of your ability

G. Ask for forgiveness for every single wrong you’ve committed

  • List everything you can think of to them

H. When you can’t think of anything else, ask if you’ve missed anything

Your children might even wholly cut ties with you

You can’t prevent them from cutting you off

  • Many parents keep enabling their adult child’s destruction from fear of permanently losing them
  • Unhealthy enabling creates bitter codependency which, ironically, damages the relationship

The situation often comes full-circle where they treat you how you’ve treated your parents

If you were an adequate parent, they’ll come back to you

  • Usually, a child who cuts off a parent is enforcing boundaries they don’t see any other way to express
  • If they come around again, take personal responsibility for how you failed them

When your children come back around, they should have their own lives

  • Don’t obsess about their life details, especially if you want to give any input
  • Your role with them should change from parent to ex-parent and older friend

Change your lifestyle to accommodate your child’s absence

Your life doesn’t end when your children move out

Find new hobbies and interests to keep doing what you like doing

Get involved with troubled children or in mentoring younger adults

Meet new people and find new ways to live

Learn to be a successful former parent instead of regretting what you’ve done

Next: Surviving Extreme Difficulties