As a parent, you teach your children the skills and motivation they need to be independent when they’re ready. Some parents encourage independence earlier than others, but there’s no right or wrong way or timing.
Typically, teens leave the nest for college or a job and set up their own household, gradually becoming more skilled at managing finances, healthcare, academics, employment, relationships and transportation; in other words, they build their own lives as adults.
This is a good thing. You adjust to the empty nest and await the text messages, emails and phone calls from your maturing young adults. During these chances to communicate, you ask about school or work, relationships or the weather. You learn what they tell you, and no more.
You’re probably more comfortable with some of their choices than others, but the fact remains, they now make most of their own decisions. This is a huge life transition and requires a conscious renegotiation of your role as “parent in charge” to one of “parent consultant.”
In the best of relationships, if you’re asked your opinion, you give it freely, realizing you can’t count on the young adult to follow your advice. If you’re not asked, you nod and hold your tongue. In the worst-case scenario, a parent can threaten to cut off financial or emotional support if their adult child makes decisions they don’t agree with, and communication gets less frequent and includes more conflict.