One of the things that most parents will recognise as being absolutely true is the reality that your kids will almost certainly grow up a whole lot faster than you were ever expecting. Many parents really do end up feeling like their kids' childhoods really were a "blink and you'll miss it" situation. One moment they're a little bundle of joy in your arms that relies on your for absolutely everything and the next they're on their way to becoming a full-blown adult with their own sets of needs, fears, desires, and ambitions. This can be an incredibly challenging time for any parent but it's important to remember that it's often even more of a difficult time for your kids. After all, they're not only undergoing a whole lot of physical changes but they're also coming face to face with an adult world that they might still not quite be ready for. Being able to navigate that kind of transition is never going to be easy but there are always things that you can do.
With that in mind, here are some ways you can help your child navigate the adult world.
Respect their need for independence
From the moment that they're born, your kids need you for basically everything. They need to you feed them, wash them, clothe them, entertain them, teach them, you name it! This can be a challenging thing to deal with as a parent but it's also something that comes with a lot of satisfaction. Because of that, it can often be very difficult when your child starts to pull away from you in that way. Suddenly they don't want your help with every little thing and they want their space. They want to spend time in their room away from you or hanging out with their friends. This can be very sad for any parent but the most important thing you can do is to respect that your child's desire for independence is both normal and necessary. Trying to stifle that is just going to leave them feeling frustrated and trapped.
Provide them with boundaries
Of course, that doesn't mean that you're suddenly just going to turn your child loose into the world just because they've decided that they want a more independent life. The reality is that teenagers are not adults. They might not feel like children anymore but they still need a great deal of guidance and help. And part of that needs to be the laying down of clear boundaries. If you let your child do anything they want it's going to cause problems for both of you. The key is to make sure that these boundaries are clearly communicated to your child so that they not only understand what they are but also why they're there in the first place. It's also worth opening up those boundaries to discussion with your child to see where the two of you can come to some kind of compromise. That way your child has a space to experiment with their new found freedom without the fear that they're going to fall off the tightrope.
Prepare them for the future
When your child is younger, it's easy to see everything very much in the present tense. However, as they get older the future looms larger and larger all the time. Because of that, you have to be there to help prepare them for the years to come and help them navigate those transitions. Things, like getting their first job and going off to college, can be incredibly scary so being there for them and helping them feel safe during those times is incredibly important. The same goes for things like learning to drive or getting into their first relationships. You can't stop your child growing up but you can make sure that they're able to move into the future as prepared as possible.
Understand their mental health
Be their safety net
As your child gets older it is no longer your job to be there at every moment carrying them along. As hard as it might be for you, the truth is that you have to learn to let go. However, what you do need to do is to make sure that, if they stumble and fall along the road, which they will, you're always there to catch them and they know that.
The truth is that there are always going to be tensions between you and your child during this time. There really is no way around it. There's no way for anyone to transition from being the most important thing in someone's world to them wanting to pull away and be their own person. And in turn, your child is not going to understand how to deal with a lot of these changes and that may well result in tension and even anger. This is where a lot of the stereotypes of angry teenagers come from. It's kids being unable to fully process the changes that they're going through and they end up throwing that anger out into the world. Just remember that as long as your relationship with your kids is strong, it's something you can both come out the other side of.
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