For some reason, whether I’ve read it somewhere or watched it on a show, I’ve noticed a trend. The parent says something to the effect of now that they are 18, their child is an adult and free to make their own decisions.
While it is true that this is the time in their lives they want to explore the world and assert their independence, take pause.
More and more research shows that brains are not fully developed until they are 25. And while they may act like they don’t need us, they do.
Many run around so determined to be right, to not get taken advantage of, to make sure they teach their child right from wrong and the consequences of those actions. What is sometimes missed, and it’s the same with little children too, is a major ingredient of all healthy development.
Connection and empathy!
When we look at ourselves and our own imperfections and make peace with them, we are more able to show empathy and acceptance toward others, and our children.
You can still have healthy boundaries and give empathy at the same time.
I’m reminded of when my son was about 7 years old. I can’t even remember what he did but I followed through with the said consequence of his action. In this case, it was not allowing him to watch a show. As he cried, it was so uncomfortable and I wanted to save him. Sometimes we even get mad at their choice because it’s easier to deal with.
But I didn’t. Instead I offered empathy as he cried. And it was as simple as repeating back what he said. All I did was mirror his words, i.e. “You really wanted to watch the show.”
We hugged as he cried.
This was a teachable moment done with empathy, which builds connection. There is a lot written on the power of connection.
Simply, when we really listen to our young adults, without judgment, we get to be a part of their journey as they start the process of getting to know themselves. It’s beautiful to watch.
Believe in them! Let them feel that from you. They are on their own path and will make mistakes, just as we all do. All we can do is be authentic and share concerns or thoughts as they come up. Maybe we will need to set some boundaries. But when it is done with compassion, love and empathy, the connection builds and they feel loved and supported.
That can be a great start to the rest of their lives.