6 Tips to Help Your Young Adult Get Out Into the Grown-Up World

Posted by on July 4, 2015 in Conscious Living, Conscious Parenting with 0 Comments

Jeffery S Smith M.D | Psychology Today

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Many parents come to me for help with young adult children who seem unable to move out into the grown-up world. Usually they want me to meet with the young person, hoping that I will magically provide the missing motivation. Instead, I ask to meet with the parents first. They often have more power than they realize to make a difference. Here are some things experience has taught me:

1. Don’t underestimate the power of marijuana. In young people, marijuana is still illegal, and that is a good thing because pot is very capable of stopping emotional growth and maturation. The reason is that growing up is stressful. It requires getting out of one’s comfort zone and learning from relationships and activities that are challenging and scary. Marijuana and the culture that goes with it make it easy to skip those difficult experiences and practice a “laid back” lifestyle that goes nowhere. Alcohol and other drugs can do the same thing, but in my experience, marijuana is the most potent.


2. Dependence represents opportunity. Even if your young person is over 18 or even 21 years old, as long as they depend on their parents, that gives parents “leverage” which can, and should be used to require things that promote growth. I often recommend that parents develop a contract, even if it is unilateral, that provides “outside motivation” to do positive things.

Maria Morri/Flickr under Creative Commons
Source: Maria Morri/Flickr under Creative Commons

3. Understand that growing up is scary and stressful. Though few young adults will admit it, getting stuck happens when the emotional brain becomes focused on avoiding stress at any cost. One common pattern is what I call the “adolescent dance,” in which the young person acts irresponsibly, forcing the parents to become the promoters of responsibility. Then the young person opposes them and becomes the champion of irresponsibility. See the post in my other blog, Moments of Change(link is external).

3.  Don’t treat your young adult like a child. While you have rights as the owners of your home, your nostalgia for the “good old days” will only increase the friction. Don’t focus on a clean room or chores that are appropriate for a 14 year-old. Support activities that will give him or her a better foothold in the adult world.

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