Watching your “baby” move out of the house can be one of the most rewarding and terrifying days you have as a parent. But as scary as it is, it’s important to respect their space. When they are physically out on their own, it’s a big time for them to establish their new identity, make new friends, and try to see where they fit in their new world. They can’t do that if you’re at their side every step of the way. Education consultant Jennifer Miller recommends pulling back and letting your teen initiate contact to assert their independence. Miller likens this age to when your child first went to Pre-K or kindergarten. Now, just as they did then, they need to test their capability and competence. Your role is to provide the sense of security for them. Let them know you’re still there if they need you, even if you’re not physically there.
Allowing space is also more than physical. Psychologist Dr. Bobbi Wegner recommends you give your young adult space on social media as well. Allowing opportunity for a life away from you is important for their identity to develop. It’s normal for you to be curious about what they’re doing, but what they share should be up to them.
Miller adds that space can also mean boundaries you set for your new relationship. Boundaries can be logistically important, like can they pop over to your house or call at any hour? But then there are also more tricky boundaries, like how much they share about their new life and relationships.
“For parents, they may want to ask more questions versus making assumptions as they figure out when and how they’ll communicate or visit home,” Miller says. “It’s necessary that it’s a two-way negotiation as you learn about the life they are creating, what kinds of supports they hope for from you, where you draw your lines in supporting, and how you are redefining your own life at home.”
Related: How Often to Talk after Teen Moves Out
It’s also the time to let your kid use all that knowledge you’ve been trying to impart to them. Remember all those chores you made them do? Those skills will come in pretty handy now. So will the myriad of other life skills you’ve been helping them build over all these years. But if you’re concerned about their ability to manage living on their own, or want to ensure that they are, there are a few key life skills our experts recommend.