All Kinds of News for January 10, 2018
Working with parents of young adults in transitional living programs presents some unique challenges along with tremendous opportunities. When these parents enroll their young adult child in a transitional living program, they are focused on how they want their adult child to learn the skills needed to live independently. They are ready for the little bird to leave the nest. However, as programming progresses and their adult child begins to experience some autonomy, the parents begin to struggle. While they want their emerging adult child to find independence, they also struggle with the process of letting go. And there is the classic catch 22 - the adult child cannot experience successful independence while the parents hold the reins, but the parents can’t relinquish control long enough to allow the adult child to become independent.
There is a logical explanation for this challenge. Parents of adult children in transition have spent most of their children’s lives advocating for them to receive the services they needed in order to find success, and sometimes just survival, in school, sports, family, play groups, etc. Most young adults in transition come from wilderness programming, therapeutic boarding school, treatment center, or some other residential setting. While they are participating in these programs, the parents are actively involved in family therapy calls and parent workshops that involve their children and a heavy focus on creating a more cohesive family unit. This is very important for the family, giving them the opportunity to process through past traumas and struggles and find some common ground for moving forward. However, as the adult children enter transitional living programs, their expectations for how they will interact with the program and with their adult children are usually not quite accurate.
At Q&A Associates, parents are invited to attend Parent Retreats twice a year which are focused on empowering parents to live their own lives. This is a scary proposition for parents, and with good reason. However, it is imperative for the parents to enter the unknown territory of letting go. Therefore, Parent Retreats do not include the families' children. The Retreats are focused completely on providing parents with the skills, resources and confidence necessary for them to find their own paths forward while also allowing their offspring to do the same. Many times, this requires the parents to do nothing.
Doing nothing is probably the most difficult thing parents are asked to do. They are so accustomed to always doing more, going the extra mile to make sure their children are well taken care of that doing nothing feels completely contradictory to their instincts. It’s important to have patience with them, but also to hold firm boundaries and maintain consistent communication and support. As parents begin to experience the beauty of doing nothing, they can also realize the freedom of being empowered to live their own lives. That freedom comes at the price of doing nothing.
While parents are busy doing nothing, the young adults are working hard at practicing independence. When given the opportunity, they will make decisions for themselves - good ones and bad ones - and they will deal with the natural consequences of those decisions and that is how character and resilience are developed. That character and resilience will take the young adults to independence and give the parents their own lives.
About Q&A Family of Programs
Q&A Family of Programs works with young adults ages 18 and up, providing opportunities for each of them to develop independent, functional, and happy lives with a high level of quality. Our clients have struggled to reach independence for a variety of reasons such as the inability to develop and/or implement the life skills needed to be successful, or struggling to obtain consistent employment. Our goal is to help these individuals find meaning and an authentic purpose for their lives and a practical path to achieve their goals.