Relating to Young Adults
The challenges of parenting are daunting, no matter the age of the child. But for the parent, the “young adult” stage can be one of the most challenging of all. During the teen years, the apron strings are greatly loosened. But in the young adult years, not only are the apron strings cut, but in many cases, the apron is completely ignored or outright rejected! This can be perplexing and confusing to a parent, especially when he or she has been fully involved in all areas of their child’s life. Rather than “parenting” (and all that implies) a young adult, parents may find themselves less needed and less consulted by their child. Young adults may frequently make important decisions, regardless of their parents’ approval or opinion. In this sense, parenting no longer consists of “controlling” the children. This is a new day, the time for parental influence, rather than parental domination.
For our purposes, the "young adult" stage of life will be considered as spanning from the college years to the post college decade (late teens through early thirties). Moving away from home to college, job, or military, is usually the first step in this process and the final step would likely be the young adult’s financial independence. This brings about a re-invention of the parental/child relationship to an adult/adult relationship.
Parents understand that this is a crucial stage. The most important decisions of life, with lifelong ramifications, are usually made during this period of time - whether to attend college and where, choice of mate, friends, vocation, hobbies, and lifelong habits. The frustration of the parent at this stage is that there is so little a parent can “do” to alter their child’s behavior or choices. However, faithfully praying for the child and working to establish a healthy relationship are the two areas that are always “safe.”
For the young adult, these years are exhilarating, if not slightly overwhelming. This is the time where her life becomes her own. No longer under the watchful eyes of parents, school, or home church, the young adult has the freedom to make life choices regardless of her parents’ opinions.
In this chapter we will seek to determine some general characteristics of young adults and how parents can learn to relate to them and yes, even enjoy them!
Author’s Biographical Information
Susie Hawkins is the mother of two adult daughters and the grandmother of five. She frequently speaks and teaches on topics that relate to the Biblical framework of family and life in general. As everyone else, she is trying to figure out life as it happens. She holds two masters degrees from The Criswell College in Dallas, Texas and is the author of From One Ministry Wife to Another. She is married to Dr. O. S. Hawkins, president of Guidestone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist convention.