Letting Go of Our Adult Children

“My greatest fear for you is not that you will fail but that you will succeed in doing the wrong thing.” Unknown

One of the hardest things for many parents of adult children to realize is that their children are individuals with their own ideas, attitudes, rights and values. We have had an effect on them while they were growing up. However, once they are grown, our influence is more limited. If we cannot “let go” of our adult children, we will miss out on the joy of completing the second half of our role as a parent.

We all have fantasies of how we want our children to turn out. We also hold onto fears of what will happen if they make decisions we don’t agree with. Let’s be honest. We tend to see our children as ourselves, our values, our self-worth, and our ability as parents. Therefore we can try to control our adult children’s choices of lifestyle, career, marital status, friendships, and beliefs.

Letting go of our expectations and our ideas of how our adult children were “supposed” to turn out is one of the best things we can do for ourselves and our relationships with them. Adult children have the right to make decisions on their own. (Just the same as we did.) Actually, that is often what scares us so much. We know the poor choices we made, and the consequences that came. Our input will hopefully be valued, but only if it has been asked for, and only as advise for them to consider but are not obliged to take.

The actual relationship we have with our adult children may not be what we have envisioned, but it can improve if we let go of our fantasies and accept the relationship we have. Try to shift your perspective from one of being the “teacher” to one who is learning from our adult children. We can choose to let go of judgments and need to control them. We may become more separate from our adult children as each of us moves on, but that does not mean that the love and care we old for each other is any less.


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