“I can’t wait until I’m 18. I’m gone and never looking back!” Ouch, that hurts. After all we’ve done for our kids. In the heat of the moment, teens will say anything. The fact is, many teens actually live with their parents well into their 20’s, even 30’s. Developmentally, adolescence comes to an end and our children are faced with adulthood with all its freedoms and responsibilities.
There are stages to our parenting. When little Johnny is toddling, we use hands-on parenting, literally. When he goes to school, we change to directive parenting. As he becomes a teenager, advice-based parenting works best, as he is working on establishing a personal identity. As he becomes an adult, switch to consultative parenting.
In the business world, consultants have a specific role. First, they are experts in their field. They know their stuff. Second, they are asked by the company boss to come in to the company and check it out. Third, they thoroughly gather data, explore, ask questions, check things out. Fourth, they compile a report and give it to the boss, complete with recommendations, and then they leave.
As parents of late teens/young adults, you have the expertise to give wise counsel, BUT, you have to be asked for it. As your young adult child is floundering, making bad choices, getting into difficulties, use your active listening skills to help him understand his feelings and to chart his own course. As you see his emotional fever coming down, and you think he might actually be ready/able to hear you, then you ask permission. “I’m really sorry you are going through this, son. I have some thoughts. Do you want to hear them?
With his giving you permission, the stage is set for your wise counsel. However, in using consultative parenting, you cannot insist that he follow your will. He can accept or reject your counsel. Parenting our adult children involves giving them our wisdom and giving them their freedom to follow it or not. Parenting? It’s never too late.