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  • Writer's pictureAndrea Jones, TLMFT

Navigate the Transition: Coaching Your Young Adult Child through Life's Milestones

By: Andrea Jones, TLMFT


Parenting doesn't come with a manual, but it does come with endless opportunities for growth and learning. As a parent, I vividly recall the days of teaching my toddler how to get dressed. It was a simple yet significant moment in their journey toward autonomy. I would lay out three outfit options, allowing them to choose what they wanted to wear. Little did I know, this seemingly mundane task was laying the groundwork for a fundamental lesson: the power of choice.


Fast forward to today, and my toddler has blossomed into a young adult. While the consequences of their choices now extend far beyond their wardrobe, the principle remains the same: their preferences matter, and their choices shape their lives. As a parent, I've made it my mission to continue reinforcing this message, even in moments when I long for the simplicity of laying out three outfit options.


Young adulthood is a period of immense cognitive development. As our children navigate this phase, their capacity to understand different perspectives while holding onto their own is undergoing significant growth. It's a crucial time for parents to step in as supportive guides, nurturing this emerging skill and modeling healthy decision-making processes. Coaching your child through these critical milestones can further deepen your bond in years to come.


One way to support your young adult during this pivotal stage is by engaging in open and empathetic dialogue. Take, for example, the scenario of considering a new job opportunity. Instead of jumping in with advice or criticism, approach the conversation with genuine curiosity. By asking open-ended questions and actively listening to their responses, you demonstrate respect for their perspective and empower them to articulate their thoughts and feelings.


For instance: Parent: "Why are you looking for a new job?" Young Adult: "I don’t like my job, it’s so boring." Remain curious about their reasoning: Parent: "What's the most boring thing about your current job?" Young Adult: "No one cares about what I care about. They don’t even talk to me." Reflect their words back to them: Parent: "You want to work with friends because your job is really lonely and no one understands you there." Validate their experience: Parent: "That makes sense. It’s really important to me to feel comfortable at work, I want you to feel understood at work too." Express your concerns: Parent: "That new job is a much further commute. I’m worried you will have a hard time getting to and from work. Is that something you are worried about too?"


By engaging in this type of dialogue, you're transitioning from the role of director to consultant. You're offering guidance and perspective without imposing your own agenda. Much like the toddler choosing their outfit, your young adult is practicing autonomy and learning to make choices aligned with their values and needs.


In the end, it's crucial to remember that your young adult child needs space and time to build a life that aligns with their aspirations and priorities. As parents, our role evolves from directing their every move to providing support and guidance as they navigate the complexities of adulthood. By fostering open communication, respecting their autonomy, and encouraging thoughtful decision-making, we empower our young adults to embark on their journey with confidence and resilience.


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If you find yourself in need of professional help, don't hesitate to reach out to us and schedule a session. Our dedicated team at Empty Nest Counseling is here to help you navigate life's challenges and transitions with care and compassion. Whether you're experiencing difficulties related to the milestones of becoming an Empty Nester or new grandparent or finding balance in how you relate to your adult children, our therapists are ready to support you. We offer both in-person and virtual therapy. Schedule a therapy session with us today and take the first step towards a healthier you. Remember, you don't have to face it alone – we're here for you.


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