Parenting your Adult Children – Let them Grow Up!

It’s not uncommon (in fact, it’s the norm) for children in South Asian communities to remain in the home with their parents well into their adult years. In some instances, the child – especially the male child – will remain in the household with their parents their entire lives. While members of an extended household – especially parents – can be an amazingly loving and supportive resource, sometimes they can overindulge their children and may in fact be a major barrier in their children becoming responsible, competent adults. These parents don’t do all of this intentionally – it’s just sometimes they have dificulty switching from being parents of young children to being parents of adult children – and they fail to realize there is a dierent kind of parenting approach needed to parent your adult child.

Parents of adult children don’t see their children the way the rest of the world sees these same individuals. While you may see, for example, a 30-year old male or female, that person’s parents still see that adult child in a way that they used to be, as babies or toddlers who are still in need of great support! Chances are your own parents may do the same thing. Aer all, that’s how we all started – as helpless little babies in need of care, twenty-four hours a day seven days a week. For these parents, while their children grew up, in their eyes they are still the same helpless little babies. It’s a beautiful and understandable vision, but it can also be a major problem.

For example, for parents of a young child, it was necessary to cook, clean and otherwise take care of all of that child’s major needs. But as the time ticked away and those children began to grow up, did those parents change their parenting approach? It’s an absolute necessity for parents to take care of all of those basic needs in a young child’s life, but it’s rather sad when a 20-year can’t cook, clean or take care of these basic needs themselves. When you’re 30 and still unable to do any of that, it’s pathetic. And while those adult children need to take some responsibility for the circumstances they find themselves in, the parents also need to own up to their role in the mess.

Why? Because the world doesn’t work that way. A young adult needs to be prepared for whatever may lie ahead for them – whether that’s post-secondary schooling or a job – and if they’ve never had any real responsibility in their lives, then they may do poorly once out in the real world. And there’s absolutely no reason an otherwise functional young adult can’t look after themselves. So if you’re pampering your young adult child, or you’re a young adult child who is pampered, while it may be the “routine” in your household, you’re going to get a rude awakening once outside in the real world.

Pampered young adults will also encounter problems when they enter into a relationship. If they are used to getting their way, then they are less able to overcome conflicts in a relationship – which is all about give and take. So again, if you’re a parent who has been pampering your adult child, you’re not doing them any favours by giving into their every whim and desire. If you want them to be able to have healthy relationships, then stop pampering them and make them responsible for their own lives.

So for you parents of adult children, tell your children that it’s time to grow up. It may be dificult, they may even throw a temper tantrum, but it’s for their own good. And for you adult children who have been pampered, you had a good run, but it’s time to grow up!