Support steps towards daily autonomy.
The transition from high school graduation to beyond can be very intimidating for many reasons. For the past 12+ years, your child likely has become accustomed to the daily routines of grade school, an allowance of spending money, the presence of consistent friends/family, and the expectation for daily needs being met for them. Once on their own, your child will quickly learn how much they may have previously taken for granted– and that’s ok! Experiencing the loss of expectations they didn’t realize they had is important so they know what they now need to provide for themselves. As a parent, it can be very helpful to foresee some of these changes and help set them up for a smoother transition to a life outside of your home. This can look like helping your child set up independent checking/savings/credit accounts, providing financial education for smart decision making, involve your child in processes like monthly bill payments and managing healthcare needs, and keying them in on the systems you have been maintaining so when it comes time for them to takeover they are aware of what responsibilities they will be taking on. Just be mindful that this should be a transition of responsibility versus a dumping of expectations. Another way parents can encourage daily autonomy includes modeling or enacting examples for organization and schedule-tracking.
Normalize mistakes and encourage course-correction.
As your teenager enters adulthood, this new level of independence will lead to risky behaviors, miscalculated risks, and misinformed decision-making. Bottom line: your kid will mess up! It is important to not only expect for your child to make real-life mistakes, but understand how important learning from these mistakes can be as well as the impact your response to these situations can have on how closely your child trusts you to be there when trouble arises. It is important to respect the decisions your child makes and to be there for them regardless of the outcome. Be sure to manage your own emotions first, and remember there are many different ways you can be there in times of stress for your child: listen to their problems, validate their experience, take their perspective as new adults, collaborate for a solution. This can be most stressful when it comes to money, but just remember that even if you aren’t able to support a financial bailout you can still support a plan for budgeting and repayment to resolve the issue and prevent it from happening again– this can even be more helpful for your child to learn how to avoid these problems in the future and feel confident not having to depend on others to solve their problems for them!
Commit to regular engagement, even if it is not reciprocated.
As your now-adults are starting a new chapter of their lives, things can become very busy! They are so used to their friends and family constantly being around that they may forget to call, text, or email. But don’t mistake their lack of contact to mean they don’t need you— in fact, they probably need you now more than they even realize. Be the one to reach out, but don’t take offense if your messages aren’t returned. It’s important your child knows that even when then are busy juggling their new responsibilities, you are still available and committed to staying present in their life from afar. One way to keep showing up with encouragement when your child needs it is to keep a copy of their work/class schedule so you can check in with purpose— wish them luck on a big test, offer some sweet words of advice before a job interview, or offer relief with a weekend back home after a busy week of commitments. You can check in by sending care packages or small gifts that will be useful to them and show your child you’re still supporting them in little ways. Providing their favorite snacks, gas money, and gift cards to their favorite restaurants are perfect examples of treats that will brighten their day!