Leaving home is a natural step in the process of growing up. Aside from the obvious act of physically leaving your parent’s house, there is a progression prior to this. Getting your driver’s license and then a car stretches the bond a teen has with their parent; they are given a sense of independence. Likewise, when a teen gets a job and their own income, this also alters the parent/child relationship dramatically.
After the child leaves school, there is an innate sense that they are free to do as they choose. After a while, the young adult feels as though they are a boarder in their parent’s house. They may still rely on their parents in times of trouble, but they are now able to facilitate their own life. Therefore, the act of moving away from home routinely follows these steps.
A young adult will be excited to live their own life, but may be unprepared for the realities of true adulthood. As someone who “left the nest” relatively late, 23 years old to be exact, I have had to adjust to becoming totally independent as I moved across the globe. Aside from the normal pressures of moving away from home, I have also had to adjust to a new community, a new residence and a new job.
While I am still adjusting to life in Florida, there are five things I have found fundamental during my transition from home. I believe many of these also reflect the changes and challenges other young adults go through. So for all the parents who are concerned for your ‘babies’ welfare, take note of these points and young adults, read these and allow yourself to relax. Transition is always difficult, but these five steps might make it a little easier.
1. Stay in contact with home
This may sound simple, but the balancing act of investing in the lives of your friends and family while also developing your new life is a challenge you will constantly juggle. Make time to contact those you are close too. It will be difficult, but fight to keep the relationships that matter. You will inevitably lose contact with some people, this is normal. Don’t allow yourself to become bitter about this; it is a natural part of life.
Parents don’t force your relationship; let your child initiate contact. Give them the space they need to start their own life. Begin to develop an adult relationship rather than one purely reliant on your care of them.
2. Develop new relationships
Moving away from your community can be lonely, so make a point to reach out to new people. Housemates, colleagues, sports teams or church groups are excellent ways to meet likeminded people. Step out and purposely develop relationships. This is a new chapter in your life, embrace it.
3. Take time for you
Each person’s experience when moving away will be different. Some will have all the basic skills down pat, but will struggle emotionally. Others may be unable to cook or do their washing, but still be quite content away from home. Give yourself the time to feel these emotions, try to stretch yourself and develop new skills.
Parents, the fact your child may still rely on you for meals, washing and even finances is to be expected, but have boundaries. Remember as much as this move is about your child’s independence, it is also about yours. Teach your child the skills they need, and schedule times to catch up over dinner.
4. Be realistic
The prospect of leaving home can be romantic and full of adventure, but try to stay level headed. Do you have the finances to live away from your parents? Do you need roommates? Consider what you will eat and if you will cook, and don’t assume moving in with your friends means there will be no conflict. Be prepared for the challenges that will come, stretch and ready yourself for them as best you can.
Parents, there will be times your child needs your support whether this be emotionally, physically or financially. Let them know you are available and to what capacity you can give them this, but don’t coddle them. Allow them to make mistakes, let them create their own budget (or lack of). Allow them to ask for help. At times it may feel like you are watching a car wreck, but this is all a part of the experience your child wants and needs.
5. Be kind to yourself
You can plan the move from home down to precise details, but you cannot guarantee how things will pan out. There will be nights you feel more emotional, allow yourself to cry. There will be days your body freaks out, you will dramatically add or lose weight and may find yourself displaying symptoms of stress or anxiety. This is okay. You are establishing a new life for yourself; it is going to take some time to adjust. Ride this as best you can and learn new habits to keep yourself healthy.
Parents don’t stress or panic, your child will be fine. Remember you went through this process too.