Parenting a young adult: How to stay close after they leave the nest

One of the harshest realities of being a parent is that at some point, you’ll have to face the fact that your child is all grown up and is ready to live a life that’s separate from your own.

Once children go to college or move out of the family home, some parents will experience empty nest syndrome, which experts describe as the feeling of anxiety, loss and emptiness after a child leaves home.

This type of adjustment disorder can stir up conflicting feelings – excitement over having more freedom and all the new opportunities that are out there for you, and sadness over the fact that your child won’t need you as much now that they can navigate the world on their own.

Most parents also feel a sense of fear that they may grow apart and that their relationship with their child may not be the same as it used to be.

To remain close to your adult child after sending them off to college, you’ll need to stay connected, but be willing to let them go at the same time. Here’s how to parent your grown-up child and stay close as a family after they leave the nest.

Be thoughtful

Your child may be in another part of the country or on the other side of the world, but that shouldn’t stop you from showing them that you care. Phone calls or video calls on special days like birthdays should always be done, and try to talk at least once a week so you can catch up.

That being said, always keep in mind that your child is now an adult and that their days are now filled with various tasks and responsibilities, so call at reasonable times, and don’t make them feel guilty if they can’t get back to you right away.

On their birthday or special milestones, make an effort to send them a thoughtful yet practical present that will enhance their new living space, such as a potted plant, an aromatherapy diffuser, or an espresso coffee maker.

Having these gifts in their new place will remind them of you, and they’ll know that you’re still rooting for them even if they don’t live with you anymore. 

Use tech to stay in touch

Technology enables you to stay in touch with your adult child in different ways. A group chat on Facebook Messenger or Family Talk lets you leave messages for each other, while video chatting apps such as Zoom enables you to catch up in real time, no matter if your children are in different parts of the world.

Work out a convenient time for everyone so you can have a nice family chat at least twice a month, and keep the conversation light whenever you’re talking. If you think one child needs a one-on-one, have that talk with them, and remember to share your wisdom or advice without being critical or controlling.

Be open minded about their relationships

If your adult child is in a relationship, know that whoever their boyfriend or girlfriend is is an important part of their life. So be gracious and open-minded once they’re introduced to you, and try to get to know them without being critical or demanding.

Your child will certainly appreciate your efforts: they’ll feel supported and accepted, and they’ll be more inclined to talk to you about this part of their life.

The love of a parent doesn’t fade once a child leaves the nest – it only changes as you give them more space to grow and become the person that they’re meant to be.

Consider these tips to remain close to your adult child after they leave home, and keep loving and supporting them, even if they’re miles or oceans away from you.