Parent vs Adult Child: Loosening The Apron Strings

adult child, apron strings, college age kids, college kids, high school kids, kids leaving home, kids leaving the nest, oldest child, spreading their wings

Motherhood is one of the most difficult yet rewarding jobs one may have. We do not forget the first day we brought our child or children home and wondered why there was no manual included. We raise them to the best of our ability and before we know it, it’s time for them to graduate high school and leave the nest.  During this high school phase, as mothers, we are already trying to hold onto as much of them as we can while letting them slowly go. Was it easy? This was not easy for me but for some mothers I spoke to, they were ready to let them go. Prior to my oldest child leaving, there was already a sense of letting him have certain freedoms as he would drive to work and school.

I felt like I was running out of time with my oldest child during his senior year and the crying started as I planned his graduation open house.

I remember wanting to spend as much time with him as possible but I had to quickly realize that he wanted to spend as much time as possible with his friends too. My son was going to college 3.5 hours away and even though it’s not that far away, I knew it would take a lot of getting used to home life without him. This was true not just for me but the whole family. There were a lot of late nights out the summer before college started. My husband and I discussed what time was okay for him to come home and had open communication with him about expectations. 

Fall arrived and college started. We were so excited for his first visit home. We were elated to have him with us! It felt like Christmas for me to have all my kids together in one space. But shortly after we got home and had just a few minutes together reconnecting, he wanted to dash off to see his pals. My husband and I would look at each other and shrug, knowing that he was not the only one behaving that way.

After talking to other moms, I discovered they were going through the same thing. I was okay with him coming home late because I knew where he was and who he was with, but my husband preferred him home much earlier. We had a talk about it and discussed expectations while at home. We wanted our son to understand that this was new territory for us, as it was for him. We had a very fruitful discussion and expressed the need for him to continue doing chores whenever he was home just like he did before he left for college. He was okay with those terms, while understanding that the time expected for him to be home was a learning curve for us all. What was interesting was that he still asked permission to go places or have people over which we appreciated.  It was less about us giving the permission, and more about him being considerate of us and informing us of his plans since it is our home.

So moms out there, don’t be surprised when your adult child returns home and seems to be dancing between being a child and trying to be an adult. As a mother of an adult child, I find myself dancing between letting my adult child learn to be an adult while trying to hold onto my rapidly maturing child. They cannot learn if we do not give them them the room to spread their wings and it does not hurt to be open about it, pray and talk about it. Even as adults our children will still need their parents and  I am very thankful for that. 

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