Late Adolescence and Early Adulthood
Q. Why do young adults have trouble leaving home and how do you help them through this transition?
A. The step into adulthood can, and often does, feel overwhelming to many young adults. Some young adults find it difficult to take over responsibility for themselves – for their finances, their healthcare and all the other responsibilities of adulthood. Whether the time for breaking away occurs after graduating from high school, college or graduate school, some families struggle with young adults’ transition to adulthood and independence. Young adults are influenced by how families handle the progression toward adulthood and by what parents communicate to help developing adults take on their new roles.
Therapy offers an opportunity for young adults to identify what is making them feel anxious or uncomfortable so they can develop confidence in the steps they need to take to move forward. Parents may play a role in keeping their children dependent upon them. Parents may be invited into meetings for help with how to foster their children’s independence. Therapy seeks to help parents and adult children transition from the parent-child relationship into a parent-adult child relationship. Parents can develop skills to guide their children into becoming fully functioning adults, by helping them gradually take on more responsibility. This can make the process feel less overwhelming and allow young adults to develop confidence in their ability to manage themselves.
Q. What if my teen or young adult has a learning or health challenge?
A. Young adults with learning differences or any learning, medical or mental health challenge face even more complications in developing into fully functioning, independent adults. It’s difficult for parents to know how and when to encourage full independence, since they’re justified in their fear of removing parental support. How do you separate and know when to ask for help? The definition of independent, functioning adults differs within these different subgroups. Through therapy, I can help parents learn realistic expectations for responding to their adult child’s individual needs.
Some people with ADHD may not be ready for full adulthood and independence until late into their 20s, and some people with cognitive challenges may never reach full independence. We hurt our developing young adults by placing universal expectations on them that don’t fit.
I can clarify what the issues are and then sort out what to do about them. I can help parents of teens and adults with these challenges navigate the dance of fostering independence without taking away the safety net until their children are ready.