Every parent looks forward to the day when their child will leave home and dreads it at the same time. Letting our children go out into the world to live their own lives can be scary.
You know the time is coming. What can you do now to make the transition as easy as possible for both of you?
First, you need to assess your feelings about the whole idea. It's not easy letting go of this new adult who you still remember holding as a tiny baby as if it was yesterday.
You're going to worry about their safety, lifestyle choices, or ability to take care of themselves. It's natural, even when they've done the household chores better than you.
If your child is moving out for college, getting married, or buying their own house, you may feel less anxious. But not completely. Today's uncertainty will keep your anxiety fairly high.
The sadness you feel when you think of your child moving out will turn to grief the moment they're gone. They've been a part of your daily life, a part of your purpose, for many years. You don't just transition out of that within a moment's notice.
Preparing for the big moving day in advance is one way to get through your emotions without clashing with your child or falling into despair once they're gone.
When do you get ready for the day?
If the day is coming soon, start now. If it's next year, now is an excellent time to start too.
If your child is going off to college, preparation naturally begins when you tour campuses and apply to colleges. During these times, you’ll explore what the dorms are like or talk about local apartments if they’re not living on campus.
Hopefully, if your child is getting married or buying their own place, you’ve had a chance to discuss how moving out will work. This moving day is a great opportunity for you to bond with your child by making it into a family event. When you share a day that makes both of you feel a little awkward at saying goodbye, it can ease the tension a bit for both of you.
Preparing for your emotional stability.
When you lay the groundwork to prepare for your own stability, you also help your child deal with the anxiety of stepping out of their comfort zone. In this way, helping your child prepare for the big day helps both of you equally.
(Throughout this article, don't forget your child's other parent and siblings. It's going to be an adjustment for everyone.)
As you help your child prepare for life on their own, there are a few rules you need to keep in mind. Remember, this is your child becoming an adult.
- They have the right to choose for themselves.
- They have their own mistakes and successes to make.
Acknowledge that they have the right to choose for themselves. The fear of your child making a mistake will often make you more pushy and direct about a topic. You must learn now that it's not your place to do this.
Some parents never learn this and many new adults spend the first few years of their adulthood avoiding their parents as much as possible. Most parent/child relationships do not break up over this. Instead, one side learns to live with it.
No, you don't stop being the parent. Yes, you do still guide your young adult child. You just do it differently now that they’re an adult.
Develop a comfortable two-way conversation.
Let your child feel safe coming to you by showing how easy and unconditional it will be when they move out. Do your best to make sure they will be comfortable coming to you.
Settle any existing disputes between the two of you. Just as they say a married couple should not go to bed angry, neither should you let your child move out angry with you.
Encourage your child to set goals for their future living conditions and making plans for moving forward in life. In all discussions, allow your child to lead them after you open the conversation.
If you haven't already, open the conversation about handling money and discuss upcoming financials that your child will have to deal with after moving out. Help them figure out the math and make sure they have the means to pay for things.
Before and after your child moves out, talk about boundaries. Let your child know you still want to be a part of their life but that you don't want to interfere. Make a plan to meet or chat by phone once a week at a time that works for your child.
Getting ready for the big day:
Here you have the perfect opportunity to learn how to be there for your child without being an overbearing parent. This is their day, and they should be in charge.
Encourage your child to make a list of all the things they’ll need, what day they will move out, and what kind of assistance they will need. Make it clear that you’re available to help them move and get supplies for the big day but that they’re in charge.
You’ve got your child this far by teaching them to trust their instincts and to have faith in their own abilities. You taught your child to be their own person and think for themselves. Don’t ruin that now by getting pushy and demanding about how they’re doing things.
When you ask a question, don’t have an expectation of what your child should answer. Let them choose the how and why of doing things. If it’s an occasion you really feel your input is vital, approach it more respectfully than you’re tempted.
Perhaps try saying, “Yes, that could work. Another way is to…” or “Great! If that doesn’t do what you want, you can try this instead.”
Your child will appreciate and look forward to your input when it is given with respect, rather than challenging their judgment. Start practicing this right away. It will help you both keep a happy communication through the future.
Say “I’m proud of you” to your child and look forward to your future too.
The moving is done. It’s time to part ways and for you and your child to live as independent human beings.
As you plan for your child’s future, don’t forget to plan for your own. You’ll have more time with your spouse if you’re married, more time with friends, and more time for your own hobbies.
This is a good thing. Take the time you need to adjust to a quieter house and a less hectic schedule. Maybe fit in a little weekend trip out, alone or with another individual.
Stay connected with your daughter after she moves out with a beautiful hand-crafted premium necklace from To My Daughter. Better yet, buy one for each of you. Whenever one of you feels uncertain about your new lives apart and wishes to step back in time, you each have a memento of the other close to your heart to keep you strong.