What does the phrase “Sweet 16” bring to mind for you? For me, it’s the surprise party my parents threw for me on my sixteenth birthday. For the men in my family now, it’s the excitement of college basketball teams on the “road to the Final Four.” But for all of us today, it’s the hope that 2016 will bring more joy into our lives and less anxiety.
If you’re a parent of a Millennial, here are some tips for increasing your family’s long-term happiness in 2016 while you decrease the daily tensions:
Parents of Millennials in high school: With your kids driving now, you’ll be walking the fine line between letting go and keeping an eye on what they’re doing and with whom. Typically this is the age of normal individuation and rebellion and yet the risk-taking associated with the teenage brain may lead to danger. Talking to your ‘teen about the need for setting rules and guidelines can ease the inevitable conflicts and help them develop resiliency.
Parents of Millennials in college: Even with the ease of texting and sharing social media, it’s up to you to set boundaries which encourage your sons and daughters to branch out on their own and learn to trust themselves to solve problems. When you resist jumping in to help them, you’ll be facilitating their continuing growth and development, making each new level of adulthood easier and more positive for them to embrace.
Parents of Millennials who have boomeranged back home: Although the economy appears to be improving, over one-third of Millennials are back in the nest, signaling what may be a cultural shift. If you have boomerang kids, enjoy reconnecting with them but avoid slipping back into your old roles. You’ll all feel better when they have developed an exit strategy and plans for implementing it.
Parents of Millennials who are on their own: While you may be missing some of the enjoyable daily interactions with your grown kids, the knowledge that you have raised them to stand on their own brings a deep sense of satisfaction. There’s no need to completely detach from them, just remember that now it is they who are likely to want to establish the terms of your relationship. When you respect their input, it will reduce the strains between you and increase everyone’s pleasure.
Parents of Millennials with children: Grandparenting has been described as the ultimate joy of nurturing. If you want to continue to be included in the process, you’ll likely need to monitor yourself so that you don’t try to grab power and overstep your place. Everyone will be happier and less stressed when you remember to offer your opinion only when asked and resist criticizing your kids and in-laws, even when they do things differently with your grandkids than you would have.
It may not be easy to refine your parenting style but, as a personal New Year’s resolution, it’s well worth the effort. Our best to you for a Sweet ’16!