From the moment our children are born we invest everything we can in them knowing that the day will come when they will move on independently with their own lives. This transition can be a difficult one for families to make. So what is the best way to carry on relationships with adult children who have left home? What preparations should be made ahead of time towards this stage in order to keep the family connected?
From childhood, it is worthwhile to establish the habit with children of never letting a day pass without them contacting us. It does not matter where they are and what exactly they are doing, at least once a day they will call us to exchange impressions in regard to everyone’s well-being. We do not need to be the ones to call them because they might be busy and we might disturb them. It’s far better if they get used to calling us. This way, when the time comes for them to leave the house, they will have the established habit of daily contact.
From us as parents, they will hear what is happening with the rest of the family. In this way, the family connection will be maintained. Of course, physical contact will also need to be maintained, and these should become a regular routine. The home-cooking that we will prepare for them to take home will provide yet another feeling of connection to us throughout the week as well.
In general, the stage of leaving home for independent adult life is something that needs to be prepared for years. Independence is built through building an atmosphere where children learn to feel responsible, mature, and where they actually function as if they are already living in their own home, even though they are still with us. And when the day to leave home finally arrives, our job should be to provide our children with a sense of confidence and security, a feeling that they can manage on their own. We will always be there to support them, but the responsibility passes to them.
Anyone who grows up in a home with an overly pampered atmosphere, in which everything is done for them, will have a hard time getting used to independent living. Such individuals are left handicapped, not knowing how to organize basic things like food, laundry, and regular life responsibilities, not to mention complex concerns like long term relationships and starting a family of their own. Such a person will feel ill-equipped to take life in his or her own hands. In fact, if we do not provide proper education ahead of time, it will be difficult to make up for the accumulated deficit at the time they leave home.
What can be done if such a situation is the reality? Sit with your children and write a sort of life guide—a guide that is as detailed as possible, that will contain cases and consequences, what to do when things happen in a certain way, how to deal with some difficulties they are likely to encounter in life, and how to react when certain kinds of problems arise. Everything that has not been absorbed into their minds and hearts during their childhood years must now be written.
We as parents should also be prepared to face the new situation of our children leaving home, and how to adjust to being empty-nesters. When they move out on their own and have not communicated with us for a long time, we will probably feel very hurt.
Perhaps we have no right to feel hurt because this is the result of the way that we educated them. Their behavior does not mean that they intend to hurt us, but it is now only our ego that demands attention from them. Apparently, we failed to instill in them good examples of concern for others and reciprocity in relationships.
After addressing our adult children’s deficits and our own loneliness, what we can still do is to call them daily to gauge how they sound, whether they need anything, and to offer help or to give good advice. After a period of time during which they get used to us calling them, we can say something along the lines of: “We do not know if we can call tomorrow, but we would be very happy for you to call us.” And so, little by little, the habit of mutual bonding will be formed.
In a nutshell, it is a natural part of life that when our children grow and progress, they will become independent and start a new life on their own. What we need to always keep in mind is that our job is to give them a sense of security, guidance for their future life, and a sense that we are behind them no matter what. There should be a clear guarantee that although they leave our home, they never leave our hearts. And such an affirmation will be reciprocated.