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Parenting young adults: Dos and don’ts

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Children’s Corner with PANIC CHILUFYA
“I DO not know how to deal or relate anymore with my 26-year-old son who is still living at home with us. When it is convenient for him, he is an adult who does not appreciate our advice; at other times, he wants to be treated like a child for whom we should be responsible for. I am at my wits’ end with his behaviour!”
This was the cry of an acquaintance and there are plenty other parents of young adults who are experiencing this.
By definition, a young adult is generally a person ranging from late teens or early twenties to their thirties, although definitions and opinions may vary.
The ever-changing social and economic landscape has redefined the traditional hierarchy between parents and children. More and more young adults now prefer to stay at home with their parents instead of managing on their own; they want to have the best of two worlds.
These arrangements have brought about their own challenges because a young adult cannot be disciplined in the same way a younger child can and should be.
This is because there is an element of respect and boundaries that should be respected between parents and young adults.
According to the Pew Research Institute, the number of young adults living at home has steadily increased in the last decade. Even those who leave home for further studies often still come home when they graduate, rather than living on their own right away.
When this happens, it is important to establish a new set of rules by acknowledging that child is now a young adult and that the relationship must change in both directions. Just as parents are not expected to make important decisions for their young adult children, young adults should not expect their parents to provide for them, absorb consequences of poor decision-making, neither should parents shield the children from the realities of adulthood.
It is equally imperative for parents to use discretion when dealing with young adults because there is a difference between condoning bad choices and lending a helping hand. For example, if a young adult is struggling to find a job, as a responsible parent, there is nothing wrong in providing financial help to bridge the gap. But if the young adult is not motivated to look for a job due to a sense of entitlement, a little discomfort is a motivator. The young adult should be deprived of some things he or she values most until he or she is prepared to work.
Parents should also stick to core values because oftentimes, young adult children make decisions that are directly in conflict with a family’s religious beliefs or values. While it is not possible to force young adults to embrace family beliefs or to live in accordance with them, they can and should be reminded that straying outside of traditional values usually comes at a cost. Parents have to use wisdom to know the right time and place to express their concerns; silence is never golden during such circumstances.
Preaching or constantly nagging a young adult always has the opposite effect and it usually impacts the parent/child relationship negatively. If a parent thinks the young adult is poised to make a bad decision, it is best to state it simply in few words and to make it clear that as a parent, they will not be available to help pick up the pieces. No matter how difficult a decision might be, parents should allow young adults to learn from their mistakes. Fewer words can communicate the message without souring the relationship through unnecessary conflict.
The real job of a parent is to prepare children to manage and survive on their own in the world by being self-sufficient. When parents continually help by taking care of the needs of their children, they are not preparing children to survive in the real world.
It is only by being persistent and respecting the transition by both parents and children that young adults can be empowered to spread their wings to eventually fly and thrive.
Remember, children are our future. Until next week, take care.
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