Many young adults struggle with the following dilemma: on the one hand they want their freedom and independence; on the other hand they require a lot of support from their parents and the adults in their lives while they are making this very important and oftentimes difficult life transition into adulthood.
What young adults DO NOT want is to be told what to do, to be nagged or criticized. These approaches push teenagers away and makes home a place of conflict; a place many teens do not want to come home to. This is troubling to them because, at the same time, they could really use their parents’ guidance, love, and support during this major transition in their lives.
So what DO young adults want from their parents? How do young adults want their parents in their lives?
When I asked this question to young adults, here are some of the answers they have given me:
- “I just want them to give me my space…so I could figure things out.”
- “I want them to trust me.”
- “I want them to be there for me. Just be there when I need them.”
- “I wish my parents could just listen to me, without telling me what to do.”
What I have found in my work with young adults is very similar to the work my ‘Parent as Coach’ instructor, Diana Sterling, found in her study with 100 teenagers. When she asked them what it is that they wanted from their parents, she summarized their answers as follows:
- “To feel RESPECTED, HEARD, and UNDERSTOOD. To be APPRECIATED for who I am. To feel SUPPORTED so that I can be RESPONSIBLE, and to support me as I become an INDEPENDENT young adult.”
Haven’t we all struggled as young adults? I often turn to my husband and say to him: “Aren’t you glad those days are over? Those difficult, uncomfortable, and challenging years when we were trying to figure out who we were, and who we want to be…when we cared so much about what other people thought about us, when we realized that our parents have faults and do not know everything?”
Think back to when you were a teenager? What are some of the struggles you were dealing with? What did you want most from your parents then?
As our teens’ parents, mentors, and friends, one of the greatest gift we can give them is to ask them that very same question: What support do you require right now?
It is so important to our teens and young adults that we respect and are sensitive to the challenges they are facing: the difficult transition and journey to adulthood.
Instead of telling them what to do, which gives the message of a lack of trust and belief in them, take the time to think about the best way you can support your teen in a way that will empower him or her.
Think about what you can do to make your home a home your teen or young adult loves coming home to so that they can be open to receiving your very valuable and much required support.