I have twins who will be graduating from high school this year, and I feel like I am fighting with them all the time about the choices they are making. I don’t like the friends they hang out with, and I don’t think they are mature enough to make the right choices. Their major complaint is that I don’t trust them, but how can I trust them when they are making choices that are completely wrong for them? They both want to go away to college, and now I am regretting having allowed them to apply to colleges away from home. I feel like I am losing control of my kids. What do I do?
It sounds like you are having a difficult time with the prospect of two of your children crossing over into adulthood. Having children grow up and move out of the home is a difficult transition for many families, and it is doubly difficult when you have children moving out at the same time. The fighting between you and your children is probably a reflection of the tension about the upcoming changes that all of you will be experiencing individually and as a family. It also sounds like you may be struggling with some sense of regret because you see them making decisions about their life that you disagree with and were not expecting.
The goal of parenting is to instill a sense of personal responsibility in your children and to launch them into adulthood. Therefore, as children reach adulthood, a parent realizes they no longer have control over the decisions their children make, and that ultimately their children are responsible for their actions. Their bad choices are their own and not necessarily a reflection of you. As a parent, it can be difficult to witness your adult children make choices that are contrary to what you wished for them during your journey of raising them. However, if you hope to have a long-lasting relationship with your children, it is important that you begin the process of letting go and accepting the reality of who your adult children are.
The establishment of trust is a long term investment. Trust begins in their younger years. Parents must trust their children unless proven otherwise. Many times, parents assume that teenagers and young adults are untrustworthy, but this paradigm creates suspicion and lack of connection between parents and children. In order for the relationship between parents and adult children to mature and develop, trust needs to be rebuilt over time in order for the relationship between the parent and child to flourish. Since you now have adult children, your role as their parent is shifting to mentor and advisor. You will need to continue to express to them that you will be available to hear their views and advise them, but ultimately you will need to show them that you love them even if you disagree with their choices.
VMCounselors was a collaborative advice column produced by two previous website authors, Amal Killawi, a Clinical Social Worker with a specialization in mental health and marriage education, and Munira Lekovic Ezzeldine, a Marriage and Family Therapist, specializing in premarital counseling. Please note that our counselors are not religious scholars and will not issue religious rulings.
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