Within the next several weeks, many families will begin preparing for their adult children to begin college or launch professional endeavors and leave the familiarity of their home and their community. In these momentous times, families come together to celebrate the beginning of adulthood and the culmination of raising children and adolescents into men and women that will serve our community and our world in their years ahead.
Often, this expectant arrival of adulthood is a time that greets families with a state of both mixed and changing emotions. For the young adult who is preparing to begin experiencing increased independence in the world and the adventures of self-discovery and social exploration, this can be a time of excitement and pleasure, as well as a time of feeling anxious about the unknown academic, social and/or financial journeys ahead. This is also a time of considering and experiencing the transition from child-adult relationships within the home to those that will begin as mutual adults within a generational family context.
The event of a young adult leaving home also invites a season of change for the entire family. During this transition for families, many parents and/or remaining siblings are met with an array of emotions that can often be experienced to be both complex and confusing. Family members may experience times of both vast happiness and sorrow. Siblings may adjust to the launching of a brother or sister by experiencing changing emotions including excitement, sadness and anger. In addition to sharing in the joy of the adventures that await their adult child, parents may find themselves grieving the loss of their adult child. Parents may also experience a sense of celebration in the parenting relationship that has been, as well as find relief for entering a new phase of decreased parental responsibilities.
Within this newness, the launching of adult children serves to set the stage for parents to move into a fresh or rekindled sense of relationship. Perhaps the days ahead will lend to new ways of dating again within your marriage or intimate relationship. Perhaps this time of newness for your family will lend to spending time together in a spirit of new traditions. In a sense of beginning anew and with a spirit of intentionality, what might you desire to build within your family, your marriage, your home in the coming season?
Before your adult child and your family begin this journey of transition, how might your family desire to celebrate and honor this time? I encourage you to come together with intention in honoring the launching into adulthood and the changes within the family that such a season invites. As parents, what would you like to share with your adult child that he/she can bring into the days ahead?
Perhaps your child will be studying at a local college and will remain residing in your family’s home this next year? The next column will speak to the adjustments of young adults residing with their families and the transition of adjustments and changing relationships within such a household.
Shannon Renae West is a licensed family therapist serving families on the Eastside. She can be reached at (425) 415-6556 or via e-mail at ShanWest@msn.com.