How to Let Go of Growing Kids

Mother hugging her middle school aged child goodbye going to school.

It's very important for your children to move from being teenagers to young adults in a way that is healthy for them—and for you.

As your children moved through other stages, your relationship, communication, and parenting style changed. As your children mature and become more independent, your relationship with them will continue to change. You may be more of a friend and adviser. The keys to making this a positive change are open communication and being flexible.

The teen years and beyond

The relationship with your children changes even more quickly as they become teens. Teens want to be independent, but deep down they also need to be connected. Parents should try to balance increasing freedom with guidelines and structure. For example, set limits on television, computer, and cell phone time or keep a school-night bedtime. But you can be flexible by making exceptions at times.

When out of high school, your young adult children still need your guidance. This is true whether they are in college or working. And it continues, even when they are graduating from college or moving on in another way. It just needs to be appropriate to the situation.

Children mature at different speeds, so there are no age guidelines for independence. Most parents feel some sadness or loss as their roles change. Keep in mind that children often struggle with the changes, too.

Parenting tips

Here are some tips to help make this change a healthy one:

  • Talk openly and honestly to your children about your feelings. Encourage your children to do the same.

  • Help your children plan their independent future. If you do it together, it will help lessen the stress of separation. For example, you can help your children select college classes or find their apartment. Consider volunteering to help decorate that first apartment, for example.

  • Share your wisdom, but let your children make their own decisions. For example, your children may be excited about moving into an apartment that you think is too expensive. You can help them by reviewing their budget and expenses.

  • Try establishing new or better relationships with your spouse or other loved ones—perhaps by planning more activities together.

  • Talk with other parents who already have been through this stage. Their experiences, both good and bad, and suggestions can help you.

  • If you are having a very difficult time, talk with your healthcare provider. Treatment, such as counseling, may be recommended.

Online Medical Reviewer: Dan Brennan MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Liora C Adler MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Stacey Wojcik MBA BSN RN
Date Last Reviewed: 7/1/2023
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