Where did my little one go and other stories of becoming an adult.

It honestly seems like yesterday when my little girl (not so little now!) came into the world. That whirlwind of early childhood where she crawled, walked, talked seems but a breath away. What I forget often is the nervous wreck I had become at each stage of my child reaching her milestones, which, by the way, I knew by rote!

If you thought that was you being a wreck, well, aren’t you in for a bigger ride? Your child is about to be an adult soon. College, friends, driving age, drinking age, but mostly the age where she thinks she can do just about anything now that she’s grown up. Little beads of sweat dot your forehead and you chew up your nails frantically just thinking about the big bad world your little one is about to face. The transition to adulthood for your child is about moving out of the safe confines of home and attempting to make some semblance of sense about what the future holds – college, career and an independent life. This period of transitioning is not limited to your child – you as a parent are making a transition too.

As people, you are growing older too and entering a phase of life where your child will be on their own. This marks a transition for you too – to a stage where you are, focused now on thinking and planning about your future. This transitional period can be both exciting and daunting especially for your child since they are preparing to live and experience a complex world that is constantly changing and posing challenges. Let us look at how to make it easier on both them and us:

  1. Before you can help your child transition to adult life, it would behoove you to take control of and manage your own anxiety. Understand that it is completely normal for you to feel anxious and the myriad not so pleasant emotions as your child prepares for the future.
  1. Ensure that your child has a clear path that is flexible and adaptable to changes along the way. Refrain from comparing your child’s path to those of other children / your child’s peers – as this would only serve to alarm you and or build resentment if you believe the path they seek to follow is better than the one chosen by your child.
  1. Focus on providing support, guidance and mentoring to your child as you did before and do not try to impose your decisions on your child. Remember also to refrain from making choices during the time when your anxiety seems to have a vice-grip over you.
  1. Young adults – your child included –entering into adulthood would naturally want to explore many options and transcend boundaries rather than being committed to a single goal. It is at this stage that they are in a better position and frame of mind to figure out what would interest them – remain strong and help them to set boundaries for themselves.
  1. It is not possible to predict the future and even the decisions they make as they enter this new phase of their life, could change with time. The beginning of adulthood is only another part of the process of discovering oneself and small failures along the way in no way mean that your child is incapable. Assure and reassure them of this fact – but first be convinced of it yourself.
  1. The love you have for your child must not be a limiting factor but rather must help them to undertake the journey of self-discovery and make the appropriate choices for their lives ahead. Let them experience their new-found independence – this would include allowing them to face the normal consequences of each of their actions – good and bad. Let your child know, however, that you are there for them in case they need guidance and support and even answers to some perplexing questions.

As a parent you know that change is the only constant; let your soon-to-be adult understand this too. Change and transition are not always easy and it is a given that anxiety and doubts will walk with you during this time. Stay calm and allow your strong relationship with your child to guide you and them as they enter adult life.

Click here to read how this mom expresses her concerns for her growing daughter and her safety in her absence.

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