How can you make launching your kids a positive experience for them and you?
The challenges of launching your kids into the world
When our children grow up and leave our nest, the transition can be hard for us and them.
I’m getting ready to send my son off to graduate school in another state. He's the youngest of our 5 children and you would think this wouldn’t be a big deal after launching 4 kids already, but it is!
I started thinking about how we launch our kids into the wider world, and how it affects us as well as them. I asked the women in The Productive Woman Community Facebook group for their thoughts on this process and got some ideas and questions from the women there.
When we launch our kids
Whether they're leaving for college, to join the military, to get married, or to start their first job, ultimately the result is the same: they're no longer under our roof, where we can keep watch and (hopefully) keep them safe. That transition can be a challenge–for us and for them.
The experience may be different depending on whether it’s your first, last, or only child, but universally it is a challenge. Kat made a comment in the Facebook group that made me smile: “He isn’t allowed to leave 😀 He is 21, and I can never imagine him moving out or life without him.”
I can totally relate to her sentiment. While we want them to go out and thrive and build their own lives, it’s still so hard to see them go. It also brings about many changes for them and for us.
The good news is there are things we can do to make the transition a bit easier.
Success in launching our kids into the world starts with preparation ahead of time as they're growing up. Andrea S. asked in the Facebook group what we wished we knew when our kids were teenagers, and the community offered insights and ideas on how to prepare for our kids to leave.
- Set them up with a computer backup system (like Backblaze), secure passwords, and a password manager (like LastPass or 1Password).
- Make sure they have basic life skills:
- Basic car maintenance
- Basic household repairs
- Grocery shopping
- Basic cooking and meal planning (consider putting together a recipe book for them with budget-friendly meals)
- Budgeting – especially if they're accustomed to parents paying for most things and their standard of living is going to change.
How much you support them financially after they leave may depend on their age when they leave, where they’re going, and why, but regardless, there are some basics to keep in mind:
- Teach them to live within their means; teach them how to create and live by a budget.
“If you have a handle on your spending . . . you’re not as stressed, and you can be so much more productive and happier.”
- Advice from experts on providing financial support to adult kids from “The Right Way to Launch a Kid”:
- “Earmark expenses. Match your allowance to specific outlays — say, the phone bill or health insurance. Avoid lump sums . . . as they can seem like entitlements.
- Put it in writing. Set down not just what you’ll pay for but also how long you’ll cover it and under what conditions. This need not be a legal document — just something to head off misunderstandings. One exception: For a big purchase, such as a house, formalize details related to ownership and survivorship.”
For your kids
Your child may be feeling mixed emotions about leaving home. She or he may be excited but at the same time feel fear or anxiety, so it is important to allow space for recognition of these emotions. Take some time to talk about it with them. This may be hard for some kids, as is the case for my youngest son. I try to be available for him when he is ready to talk and process these emotions.
You need to undertake some emotional preparation as well! You are proud of them and excited for them, but you still might be feeling
Worry – You don’t stop being a mom because they leave. Will they thrive? Will they be safe? It's hard to not be nearby to protect them. Will they make wise choices?
Loss/sadness – Your baby is not your baby anymore, and there’s a sense of sadness when your little one is going out on his or her own even when you’re excited for them.
Identity Crisis – Our lives have been built around being someone’s mom for so long that you may find yourself wondering “Who am I if I’m not mom?” when they leave. Our children have been a focal point for us as we raise them to adulthood. When that phase is over, it's a great time to think about who you are, who you want to be, what you want for this next stage of your life. As you’re planning for your children’s departure, try to plan something for yourself as well. What will you do with the extra time?
Changed relationship with spouse – Plan a trip with your spouse. Now that your children are leaving, this is a good time to renew and re-strengthen your relationship. Think of your children’s departure as a new adventure and be intentional about the change in relationship with your spouse.
Changed relationship with your child – Several women in the TPW community offered wise advice about how they have managed their transition from being a parent to a child to being a parent to an adult. Provide your children with advice and counsel when they seek it, and support and respect them in their decisions. Enjoy your new relationship with your mature, adult children!
How to support them from a distance
Some ladies in the TPW Community shared ideas on practical ways to support your children after they leave.
- Text good morning notes (with Bitmojis for fun) and make time for Facetime talks on the weekends. This helps your child feel supported and you connected.
- If your children are within driving distance, meet with them once every couple of weeks.
- If you are a person of faith, ask your children how you can pray for them. This gives you the opportunity to know what challenges they're facing.
- Send care packages containing treats you know they love but maybe can’t afford, reminders from home, or household items. This lets them know that even though they're gone, they're still your babies and you're still looking out for them.
When your child leaves home, it is the end of an era, but it’s also the beginning of a new phase of life. Like anything else, our experience of it will be determined by how we choose to think about it. We can experience the sadness and the loss of them leaving and acknowledge that it is a loss and a change, but we can also look forward to it and find ways to react to it positively, to create a new relationship with our child as an adult. It is the best encouragement knowing that we did our best to teach them how to become happy, healthy, productive adults, and look forward with anticipation to this new stage of life.
What do you think?
Thank you to all the ladies who contributed to the conversation in the TPW Community Facebook group:
Kat M., Andrea S., Yvonne C., Coryne F., Laquita P., Deanna P., Elizabeth C., Priscille L., Chris S., Betsy H., Robin S.,
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