The Bridge from Child to Adulthood

by Kate Rhoten

nate-rhotenMy oldest son reached a milestone in August. He turned 18. It’s not as if the day that a teenager turns this age, a light switch has been flipped, and they are all grown up and independent.

But I can tell you, there has been a bit of spreading of the wings. The challenge here is finding the balance between the two parties involved – the now not-so-minor teenager and his parents.

How does one give some rope to their child without giving too much slack or holding it too tightly? This is difficult, and there is not a manual for us parents to seek guidance.

But as most parents do, we give it our best shot and learn from the experience to do better next time. This time is tough because in my case, my son has been working, going to school and running cross country. He wants freedom, but with that freedom comes increased responsibility.

We can’t just open the doors and say, “Fly little birdie.” There is much guidance on a daily basis. Some guidance comes in easygoing conversations while others are deep discussions or disagreements.

It is not always easy. As a mother, it hurts to see your child hurting and disliking what they are being told. This is very true for us moms as we know it is in their best interest. The child just does not realize it at that time.

How do we give enough space for our young adults to feel like they are gaining responsibility? Provide them insight as to how their world changes greatly after their 18th birthday now that the laws that didn’t apply before the 18th birthday are in full force?

We know we can’t always protect them; we can’t give them all the answers because the best lessons often learned are those learned firsthand.

There is a balance to be found between adolescence and adulthood, but it takes time. Both parties have to be willing to listen to the other side and take the time to consider the different viewpoint. This can be quite daunting, but in the long run, it will be worth it.

As parents, we have to believe this to be true. We become parents not knowing how to parent. We don’t know how our offspring will turn out, but we hope for the best. We learn as we go.

And then, we get to the point in time when the child is not little, not holding our hand anymore. The child is a young man eager to take on new adventures and ready to be more independent.

So here I am, getting closer each passing day to letting go. When our children are kind, compassionate and respect others, it gives hope that we have done well. My job is far from done as a mother, but there is evidence that the foundation has been laid and is solid.