Life & Love, Top Stories

Letting Go of Our Adult Children

letting go

Learning to be a Momma Bird

At what point in the lives of our adult children do we start letting go and just allow them to spread their wings and fly completely on their own? Do we ever really fully let go?

As a mother of two adult children, I struggle with this quite often. One of my children is still quite young, but my oldest is 32 with children of her own.

My daughter is the one I struggle with the most. I truly stress over some of the decisions I see her making. Not because the psychic in me sees what is to come. No, it is the mother in me who sees how some of these decisions will inevitably come back and bite her on the butt.

At what point do I just step back, hide my head in my hands and let her fall on her face? I know, that sounds rather harsh and probably a bit extreme. But that’s how I see it and I know I am not alone.

I talk with clients quite frequently asking about their own adult children and their questionable decisions.

As parents, we have much more life experience, but that does not always equate to us knowing better. In fact, in retrospect, it took me close to 40 years to get my own stuff together and just live right.

Even though I still sometimes question my own decisions, I do see how some of my daughter’s decisions may adversely affect her life. I really struggle with keeping my mouth shut and watching her learn her lesson the hard way.

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I know that she would gain much more knowledge and benefit by choosing her own path and face the consequences, one way or the other. This, in turn, will provide her with her own life experiences and hopefully teach her to make better, more informed decisions in the future.

I always counsel my clients to “guide” their own children rather than try to give them advice. Our children tend to be quite resistant to advice from us as parents, but guidance is more subtle. You can often guide them in a different direction without them even realizing it.

One of the areas we struggle with the most as parents is the romantic relationships of our children, with finances being a close second. The best way we can guide our children is by making solid choices ourselves and giving them good examples of healthy relationships. But unless you know for a fact that your child is in an abusive or controlling relationship, there is very little that you can do. Even if you know your child is being harmed in some way, you are still quite limited as to how you can “help”. Sometimes we can only close our eyes, drop to our knees and just pray.

It seems that when it comes to matters of the heart, our children are the most resistant; much more so than when it involves other major decisions such as a new job or buying a house. They just think they know better. Also, they sometimes act out of spite by intentionally choosing someone of whom they know we will not approve, but that is a whole other story.

Quite often, I wish I could be more like a bird parent. When bird parents feel the time is right, they simply shove their babies out of the nest and hope for the best. Either the baby bird flies away happily, completely on its own, or it lands flat on its face on the ground.

My children are very different from one another as is how I raised each. I was quite young when I had my daughter and there are 14 years between her and my son. I have coddled my son and openly favored him. I know that is not right and I sometimes see how adversely that has affected him.

I always strongly encouraged independence in each of my children, though. But only in the last year have I become much more clingy with my son. I am sure it’s because he’s the baby and I simply am not ready to let go. At 19, he still lives at home with me and I know that I sometimes make life too easy for him, but it’s just so hard to see him try and spread his wings.

I am scared that I may be holding him back, but I am also nowhere near ready to see him leave the nest. As I am writing this, he actually asked me if it was ok if he took a nap. Not because I’m controlling, but he really still values what I have to say. I enjoy that, but I also know it’s time to just let go.

I really wish I were a bird momma.

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  1. Yup. Watching adult children make bad decisions sucks. Especially when you live under the same roof but I have realized Life is a much better teacher than I could ever be because when words come from my mouth all she hears is A Bunch Of Noise. Life will kick her butt. But sometimes that’s the only answer and I have accepted that.

    1. Karyn, thank you for taking time to read my latest story and sharing your own thoughts. You are right, life is a very good teacher. 🙂
      Thank you and blessings.

      1. I too struggle in this area especially with my two girls. They are the oldest and have children. I started showing tough love about 3yrs ago. It was hard and they were mad at me at times. But now they see and understand why I’m that way. I give advice and let it be and when they see I’m telling them what’s right they let me know. I have seen growth in both of them but they still haven’t fully gotten it. I just keep them covered in prayer. Both are very stubborn and they get that from me. They are different as day and night but I also realize how blessed I am with my babies they haven’t done none of the things I did at their age both in their twenties. As for self I didn’t start getting it together till I was in my mid thirties. So I fully understand this and it’s something I think about all the time. Thanks for sharing I really needed to see this. I keep us all in prayer

        1. Shalonda, I greatly appreciate you taking time to read my story and share your own experience here with all of us.
          Blessings to you and your family. Stay strong.

  2. It is hard to let go of your children, as they grow up to be adults, especially if you only have ONE…. An only child…. But you look back at when you were growing up and taking steps to fly out on your own and as a parent, you want them to do the same… You want them to be able to stand on their own two feet, find their path in life, their partner, their own family, career and more…. We won’t be there for them at some point in their lives and they need to know how to make their decisions (whether good or bad) and deal with adulting…. But in my situation, I have a son, who is afraid to venture out into the world, associate with people, find his path…. He is not completely anti-social, but it’s difficult for him to interact with people, and that hurts me much more…. How will he manage with life if/when I’m not around, when his family is not around to help him deal with whatever he is afraid of?… I pray for him each and every day, so he can find his way, his strength, his inspiration….. That’s a whole other issue to deal with…. All he hears is “blah, blah, blah” and all he answers is “Hmm”… I’m helpless here….

    1. Carolyn, I am sure this is a great struggle for you fearing what may happen to your son. But I feel that he may surprise you when it gets right down to it. He may look to be somewhat hopeless now, but I sense he will find his strength and own path when given no other choice. He does have it within himself.
      Thank you and blessings.

  3. My adult daughter called me one night and said ” I never imagined being a mother was so hard!” I responded to my daughter saying, ” The hardest part of being a mother is watching your children grow up and leave the nest and then hardly calling you!” My daughter has a while before my granddaughter is all grown up and leaving the nest. I told my daughter that day will come before you know it. So Cherrish every single moment with your daughter now and always!

    1. Maureen, I very much appreciate you taking time to comment and share your own experience and advice. We do need to cherish our children at all ages and stages in life.
      Thank you and blessings.

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