Growing up, like most kids, I relied heavily on my parents. From helping me with my homework to cooking my meals, my parents were always there to ensure that everything went smoothly. With their steadfast guidance, I was able to shape myself into the young man I have become today. Currently, I am a third-year student at the University of Waterloo, which is almost 6000 miles away from my home and my family. My parents are no longer around to hold my hand and guide me when I am feeling conflicted or need help completing a task. I will admit that, though I thoroughly enjoy the freedom of my newfound independence, there are times that I find I still need their help.
While I do not believe in the notion of being completely independent of your parents as soon as you leave for college, the relationship with my parents will undergo changes. The relationship begins to shift from that of guardian to that of a trusted advisor. No longer am I looking for someone to establish limits and parental consequences for breaking those limits. What I really need now is a mentor to provide guidance as I take on the challenges of adulthood. I need someone to help me sort out the tough decisions I will face and help me to make the best decisions that I can for my future, without trying to make those decisions for me.
These are just a few of the areas that I, like many young adults my age, now need from my parents.
Since becoming a college student, I have begun to grasp the importance of managing my money efficiently. Before, I did not have to worry about expenses such as rent, utilities, etc., as these were all covered by my parents. However, since moving off campus, I have begun to take on these responsibilities. Helping your children to learn good budgeting will allow them to manage money properly and never fall behind their expenses. There are several other financial topics that I know would benefit myself and others my age. For example:
- How to build and maintain good credit?
- How do I do my taxes?
- Saving towards my first home
- When do I start saving toward retirement?
- Budgeting to pay off my student loans in a timely manner
Spending habits tend to evolve as we grow, from having our parents manage our money to earning and managing it on your own. Parents need to understand that this can be difficult situation to navigate, rather than letting us stumble blindly through these uncharted waters, taking time to offer this real world advice can make all the difference in our overall financial literacy.
One of the most important life lessons I believe we can learn from our parents is about relationships. This is often a subject most young adults are hesitant to discuss with their parents, but through your experience, you as our parents can help us to create healthy adult relationships. Let’s not forget, there are more than just romantic relationships that we will be experiencing. There are adult friendships, not to mention professional relationships between our colleagues as our supervisors. You were once like us, and likely have become who you are through a series of relationships as a young adult. As parents, you can provide insight from both the successes of your relationships as well as the mistakes. Some of the advice your children may need now as they begin to experience adult relationships are:
- How do I ensure that I am being a good partner and a friend?
- When will I know that I’m ready for a serious committed relationship?
- How can I get out of a toxic or unhealthy relationship?
- How do I take care of myself after a long-term relationship doesn’t work out?
- How does dating differ outside the confines of Academia?
- What kind of relationships should I have with my peers at work? What about my supervisors?
- How do I professionally network?
- When is the right time to start a family?
I need to learn from your past experiences:
To me, my parents are perfect. But I know that they are also human. There were mistakes made along the way, but it was overcoming these mistakes that made them who they are today. To truly help your children learn from your mistake this is going to require an honest and open discussion. It is through these sorts of tough discussions, that it’s likely that they will come to appreciate just how great their parents were for overcoming the struggles that they did. Some examples of those tough decisions might be:
- Did you struggle financially when they were first starting out?
- What adversity did you face when you were my age?
- How did you know you had chosen the right career?
- How did you balance your career and family?
- What sacrifices were made for the family/marriage?
- What did you do to take care of your mental health?
The answers to many of these questions may help your children to become the best possible version of themselves.
As a young adult, I can sympathize with parents who have children around my age because it is a very tricky time. The transition from teen to young adult does not happen at the flick of a switch. You both will begin to establish new boundaries as you embrace this new phase of your life.
This is not a time to be sad that your children have grown, it is a time to be proud of the job you did raising them.
I am fully aware that the relationship with my parents has changed since I left for school. Yet as our relationship matures, I look forward to this next chapter in our lives.