Hey mom, are you struggling to let go of your grown child?
It can be incredibly difficult to let go of our grown children. For many moms, we feel a little lost and lonely without the daily interactions of our kids
How Do I Let Go Of My Grown Kids?
. Sometimes we feel confused, knowing that we should be happy that our kids are grown, but a sense of sadness seems to persist.
Letting Go Of Adult Kids Can Be Painful
I understand what it feels like to let go of adult kids. My kids are in their thirties now, but letting them go was one of the hardest things I have ever done. It hurts in ways that don’t make sense!
If you are looking for more information about adult kids, try these posts:
As you know, raising kids is a marathon! Now that you have crossed the finish line, your emotions can be confusing. Part of you wants to celebrate a job well done, and the other part of you feels strangely empty.
You need to know that you are not alone. Navigating a big life change can be challenging, but I want to encourage you. This post is packed full of suggestions to help you create the balanced life you are looking for.
How To Let Go Of Your Adult Children
It’s natural for parents to want to protect their children, but at some point, you must let go. If your child is an adult, they’re going to make their own decisions, some will be good and others will be painful!
You can’t always be there to catch them when they fall. As you already know, the best we can do is hope that we have taught them well and hope that they make the right choices.
But how do you let go? How do you stop worrying and give your child the space they need to grow?
Letting Go Of Your Adult Child Is A Natural Experience
As moms, we can get caught up in the cycles of family life. After spending almost two decades raising, refereeing, and being a reliable resource, we can get stuck in our “mom” identity. It is perfectly normal to struggle to let go of children that have been the focus of most of your adult life.
For many of us, some of the most meaningful memories we have are of our young children. Watching them learn, grow and struggle is a beautiful experience. Protecting our babies as they learn to crawl and then walk, helping them form words and sounds, each day brings both excitement and exhaustion!
It’s Normal To Want To Hold On To Your Kids
Toddlers turn into teens, and our role changes again. No longer the daily protector, we learn to give our older kids room to flex their personalities. Deep down inside, we begin to prepare for the day when we have to let our grown child go.
Our brains know that letting our child go is a normal part of life. But at times, our hearts refuse to accept the changes in our families. And for some of us, we get stuck, not knowing how to let go of our adult children.
Struggling To Let Go Of Your Adult Kids Is About You- Not Them!
As adult women, we know that trying to control other people is not healthy. This includes our adult kids! Caught in a cycle of fear, we reach for control to try and make sure our grown children stay safe. The truth is, we can’t have a healthy relationship with our adult kids if it is based in fear.
One of the best ways to let go of your kids to is begin to prepare them for adulthood early in life. If you are reading this and your children are still minors, the following ideas will help you create a reliable framework for them to rely on as they mature.
Letting Go Of Your Kids Starts Early
Try incorporating these ideas into your conversations with your maturing child. Let them know that you are working hard to help them make the leap from child to young adult.
- Talk about your expectations. Make sure your child knows what you expect from them as an adult. This will help set the groundwork for a healthy relationship as they become more independent.
- Give them room to make mistakes. Nobody’s perfect, and your child is going to make mistakes—it’s inevitable. What’s important is that they learn from those mistakes. Don’t be too quick to judge or criticize; instead, offer support and guidance. They’ll appreciate it in the long run.
- Be available when they need you. Even if your child is now an adult, they’ll still need your support from time to time. Whether it’s a shoulder to cry on or advice on a tough decision, let them know that you’re always there for them.
What If Your Kids Are Adults And You Can’t Let Go?
For some moms, letting go of adult kids can cause high levels of emotional pain. Even if she knows it’s not healthy, this type of mom might try to stay over-involved with her adult children. This cycle of behavior can cause resentment in the adult child.
The Best Ways For Mom To Let Go Of Her Grown Kids
If one thing is true in life, it’s this: the more we think about something, the more power it has over us! Moms that are struggling to let go of their adult kids are often caught in a thought cycle. Ruminating and anxious about circumstances and details that their kids have shared, these moms win the gold medal in overthinking!
It is wonderful to have an open, truthful relationship with a grown child. But at times, knowing too many details can send a mom into an emotional tailspin!
Maybe You Need To Find Something Else To Do With Your Time
Spending time focusing on how to solve problems for her grown child can turn a mom into a control freak! Always on the alert for potential problems or overlooked details, this type of mom needs to find more to do with her time.
At the risk of sounding harsh, some moms of adult kids do need to find more to do with their time! It is very common for women to raise kids and as a result let go of personal interests due to lack of time and energy. When your kids leave the nest, it’s time to start exploring hobbies and activities that help you build a life that is enjoyable and exciting.
To Let Go Of Your Adult Kids Begin To Focus On Your Own Growth
Spend time playing with your partner.
The most important thing a mom can do when she is struggling to let go of her adult kids is to focus on her own personal growth. Trust me, you need to begin redefining your priorities. If you are a married mom, now is a great time to start investing energy into your partnership. As all moms know, raising kids can take a toll on the marriage relationship.
With the rising rate of grey divorce, parents of adult children need to make a commitment to exploring their newly empty nest. As a relationship coach, I encourage you to talk with your spouse about the idea of “playing” together. Identifying activities that are lighthearted and deepen your emotional connection are vital for the empty nest partnership.
Find friends that don’t focus on their adult kids.
As you have heard: Birds of a feather flock together! As a mom who is trying to let go of her grown kids, you might need to find some new friends. If your friends always bring up the topic of their adult kids, it might be time to move on. It’s kind of like having friends that are a bad influence. They act like an anchor, keeping you stuck in behaviors that are not healthy.
Talking (and gossiping) about adult kids keep you stuck in old patterns. Stretch yourself to find friends that are focused on building an exciting life for themselves. Skip the ones that want to complain about their disappointing adult kids.
Change Your “Worry Story”
Sometimes as moms we get a little narrow-minded and a bit anxious. Or maybe it is just me…?
My Own Worry Story
I recently started sharing my exercise data with my adult son and daughter. We are not competing, just encouraging each other to stay steady with exercise. Sounds healthy, right? Well-
I got a little weird about watching my kid’s activity. More specifically, I got weird waiting to see when they woke up and started to move about their day. And if I thought they should be up already, and they weren’t showing any data of movement, I got worried.
I was acting weird because I was worried!
Worried like only a mom can get worried, do you get me? I made up crazy stories about them being hurt or sick or fill-in-the-blank-with-something-horrible. The more I checked to see what was happening with their movement data, the more I worried!
Unable to take it anymore, I texted my son and asked him why his watch data was so low. He texted me back and said that he had taken off his Apple watch and was wearing another analog watch.
Well, let me assure you that with all the ridiculous horror stories I made up, it never occurred to me that he might be making a fashion choice by not wearing his Apple watch! Thankfully this incident was just the “snap outta it!” moment I needed to help me see my own dysfunctional behavior.
I was on the edge of “scary mommy” with my Apple watch stalking. It was bananas! I needed to change my worry story and put boundaries around my own behavior.
Letting Go Of Your Kids Means You Have To Respect the Process And The Person
Listen Mom, I believe that you did your very best to love, instruct and protect your children. The untold hours of listening, cooking, and playing chauffeur have ended. Congratulate yourself for all the focused energy that you dedicated to raising your kids.
Now that they are adults, it’s time to trust the process. You did your best, now stand back and let the results emerge. Everything needs time to develop and grow.
Raising Kids Requires Patience
If you think about it, maturing kids are like daffodils. You plant the bulb in the best conditions, the weather is perfect, the ground is ready. You push dirt back over the bulb, committed to waiting for the hidden work to turn the bulb into stunning daffodil.
As parents, we instill our best knowledge, love, and wisdom into their young minds. Then we wait to for the first evidence of growth, ready to celebrate the beauty of our intentional efforts. It can feel like it takes forever for some evidence of maturity, but our patience will pay off.
Respect The Person
So, when does a child become an adult? Well, we know that legally the age is 18 in the United States. But honestly, that is just a number, it does not mean a person is ready to be a whole adult.
In my opinion, a child becomes an adult when they can provide for themselves financially. No help from mom and dad, they are completely living off their own income. If your child still needs your financial support to survive, they are not an independent adult.
How Do You Know When Your Child Is An Adult?
When your adult child has reached financial independence, it is time to let them go. They are now a whole adult, and it is your job to respect them as an individual. Letting go of adult kids means that we respect them as a person.
We respect their choices, even if we don’t like their decisions.
Even adult kids want the love and approval of their parents. Respecting the person means you are obligated to support your child in ways that feel genuine to you. Your adult child deserves the same respect and encouragement you would offer a co-worker or friend.
But If I Let Them Go They Might Make Mistakes!
Yes, that is absolutely true! They might just make some mistakes, and some of those could be really big mistakes! But let’s remember mistakes are always full of information that will teach them important lessons and help them mature into seasoned adults.
It is critical that we allow our adult kids to make their mistakes. If we are over-involved and controlling, they might blame us for negative circumstances.
Loving someone means you respect their independence.
It can be difficult letting go of your grown child, but it’s important to remember that they’re their own person now and they need the space to grow.
Talk about your expectations, give them room to make mistakes, and be available when they need you—these are all crucial things that will help you successfully let go of your grown child without losing touch completely.
Letting go of our adult kids is hard. But when we choose to put aside our emotions and fears, we help our grown kids move closer to their adult self. Everyone needs space, support and time to develop into the best version of themselves.
If you are really struggling with the choice to let go of your adult kids, consider working with a therapist or qualified coach. I help women reduce relationship anxiety, and make changes to help them begin to enjoy their family again. Click here for all the details!
Melane Ann is a writer, blogger, and life coach. In 2020, she turned her experience in midlife divorce and creating a new life for herself into midlifeismagical. With a master's in Marriage and Family Therapy, Melane focuses on helping women over 50 navigate their relationships and commit to healthy aging. She and her new husband share 7 children between them. Melane jokes that she has a black belt in blended families! In addition to her writing, Melane works virtually with her coaching clients from her home office.