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I remember the first week on my own.  It was the summer before my sophomore year at The George Washington University.  Freshman year was sheltered.  We were forced to stay on campus.  We had roommates, rules, RAs; this summer was different.  I was living by myself.  My parents helped me move in to my small efficiency, stayed for a couple of days, and then they were gone.  I haven’t lived at my parents’ home since that day.

I’m no expert on parenting young adults.  My kids are just out of diapers!  My expertise is in being a young adult.  I know what I need from my parents and I’ve taken time to separate what I think I need from what I actually need.  That summer before my sophomore year was one of the scariest experiences of my life.  But my parents were able to help me use the experience to grow and develop into an adult.

Here are 5 ideas for helping your child develop after they leave the house:

1.) Support their Interests: Your child is different from you.  Affirm the parts of them that you don’t understand.  They shouldn’t feel they have to be exactly like you to have your approval.

2.) Tell Them What You Tell Your Friends: When I go home, I sometimes run into my parents’ friends at various places about town.  I hear from them about all the AMAZING things I’m doing with my life.   They have heard about things from my parents that I didn’t even know my parents knew about…some of them I didn’t even know about!

3.) Say ‘I Love You’: This was not spoken in my family growing up as much as it was implied.  We’ve grown past that now and we let each other know how we feel.  Life is too short to go one day questioning.  Be clear.  Say “I Love You!”

4.) Let Yourself Be Impressed: It seems during adolescence that parents feel the need to flip a switch from constant affirmation to “ego-checking”.  Don’t be your child’s worst critic.  Be impressed when they’re impressive and let someone else pick it apart.

5.) Pray: Even if you don’t have physical access to your child, you have spiritual access.  I believe parents have special prayer rights over their children.  God hears your prayers and will work to bring your blessing to your child.

Parents – How have you helped your child develop after they left the house?

Young Adults – What’s been helpful/unhelpful that your parents have done?