By the time you’re parents of young adults ages 18 – 25 years old, you would think that there isn’t a lot more you can do to strengthen your parenting skills. However, since we started coaching college students and other young adults in 2008, we’ve learned that many parents of young adults need help with parenting!
We coach a specialization subset of “adult children” that our friends, Elaine Taylor-Klaus and Diane Dempster at Impact Parents, call “complex kids.” Our particular niche of “complex kids” is young adults ages 18 – 25. These young adults usually have ADHD and co-existing conditions such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), learning disabilities, executive functioning issues, and/or anxiety.
What Are Parents of Young Adults Saying?
Parents of young adults contact us when their young adult child is struggling with the transition to adulthood. The things that they alone, as parents, are doing to help their young adult child are not working well.
Here are some statements that parents of young adults have made when they first contacted us:
- Doesn’t Listen: I think we are at the point of just annoying our daughter. She doesn’t listen. And she gets so irritated with us!! She views me as a nagger. I don’t want to be a nagger. Can’t I just be her Mom? I think she needs someone else to help her.
- Disorganized: Our son is incredibly disorganized. His room is a total mess. Clothes, shoes, papers, and empty soda bottles are all over the floor. He doesn’t wash his sheets for months at a time, despite my reminding him. I can hardly stand it any longer.
- Irresponsible: I walk our son’s dog in the morning before I go to work because I know my son is going to sleep until noon. But he agreed to walk his dog before he goes to his afternoon job. He hardly ever does. I remind him multiple times each week, but he ignores me. Sometimes I think about giving his dog away. But I’m afraid to do that. His dog is his best friend – maybe his only friend. He shows no responsibility. I didn’t raise him this way!
- Unstructured: We can’t get our daughter to use a calendar. She says she doesn’t need one because she keeps everything in her head. She doesn’t want us to remind her of appointments. However, if we don’t, she often misses them! I don’t know how my daughter is ever going to live independently without our support. It scares me. She’s almost 21.
There are other statements our parents make about their young adult children during initial calls. They say they are avoidant, failing in college, and show no initiative. But you get the point! These young adults are not succeeding, even though they are usually very intelligent!
Failure to Launch (FTL) Young Adults
If you are the parent of a young adult, and some of these scenarios sound familiar, you’re certainly not alone. There’s a term that is now commonly used with these young adults – Failure to Launch (FTL). A 2019 AARP article entitled “Help! My Young Adult Kid Has ‘Failed To Launch””, which we highly recommend that you read, states:
According to the 2017 survey of the U.S. Census Bureau, one-third of all adults ages 18 to 34 — about 24 million — still live at home.
Interestingly, the article’s subtitle is “How not to add to your child’s paralysis.”
The path forward, according to the article, is to require more, not less, of your young adult child. We agree!! But parents need to do it in a planned, thoughtful way in which they demonstrate the Love & Logic approach to parenting. As a residential therapy program for FTL adult children states in the AARP article:
Treatment is customized to the young adult, but the key to any program is creating discomfort — and ramping it up. Because let’s face it: Many of us wouldn’t feel compelled to change if all our needs were met.
But Will Parents of Young Adults Accept Help?
We usually spend a great deal of time on the initial pro bono call with parents who inquire about coaching services for their young adult child. Sometimes parents get back with us and tell us that they talked with their 18 – 25 y. o. child and that the young adult doesn’t think they need coaching.
At that point, we often suggest that the parent consider parent skills training and parent coaching. We tell them that this will help them learn new strategies for working with their child and also get support for themselves. Additionally, we tell parents that we can refer them to some excellent parenting coaches.
The typical response from parents when we make this suggestion is, “No, I don’t need parenting education or parent coaching for myself. It’s my young adult child who needs help! It’s my young adult who needs to change.”
You know, this is an understandable parental response! One Mom told me that she was a school teacher, had taught a parenting program herself, and that she certainly didn’t need parenting education or coaching. She said that she raised two successful young adults and she didn’t need any suggestions about how to parent her FTL young adult son.
The Coaching Approach to Parenting
The parents of our young adult coaching clients have got to be among the kindest, most intelligent, and most caring parents in the world! They often have one or two other children who have launched successfully into adulthood. That’s why they are so bewildered and exhausted trying to figure out how to help their FTL child. That’s why they are hoping that someone else can help “fix” their young adult child!
We get it. But the bottom line is that the “very best coach” for a young adult child is the young adult’s parent!! Parents are in a stronger position with their young adult children than we are. They have certain types of leverage with their young adult that we, as their child’s coach, do not have. Parents can “ramp it up” in ways that we can’t.
If parents are “meeting all their child’s needs” so that their FTL young adult child really doesn’t need to change, they need to consider making changes in how they parent. We recommend that parents take a “coaching approach” to parenting.
Parents are “forever” in their adult child’s life. But that doesn’t mean that they have all the skills that they need as their child’s “parent coach.” Parents deserve help from parent coaching experts to learn this skill!
We’re Not Coaching Experts for Parents of Young Adults!
We decided several years ago not to add on one more coaching specialization (i.e., parent coaching) to our coaching services! For purposes of maintaining young adult confidentiality and for other reasons, we felt that it was best for us to focus on young adult coaching alone.
But we do know excellent parent coaches to whom we can refer parents of young adults for parenting skills education and coaching!
Elaine Taylor-Klaus and Diane Dempster, founders of ImpactADHD (now named Impact Parents), are highly skilled parent coaches, as well as ICF-certified professional coaches. In fact, they are so good at both parent skills training AND parent coaching that we have formed a partnership with them that we believe will benefit both our young adult coaching clients AND their parents.
Sanity School LIVE Parent Training
No matter what age your child is, we encourage you to consider signing up for Impact Parents’ signature parent skills training program, Sanity School LIVE.
Sanity School LIVE starts THIS WEEK with a choice of two times (sorry for the late notice). The class meets weekly for six weeks:
- Wednesdays, March 3 – April 7
8:00pm EST (find your local time here)
- Thursdays, March 4 – April 8
1:00pm EST (find your local time here)
If you cannot attend Sanity School at these dates/times, not a problem. Each class is one hour, followed by 1/2 hour of Live Q&A, all of which will be recorded for your access at any time!!
You can learn all about this wonderful parent skills training program AND sign up here: Sanity School Live.
And here’s the really great thing: After taking Sanity School LIVE, your parenting skills will be bolstered AND you will have the opportunity to sign up for a Coaching Group that’s exclusively for Parents of Young Adults. You will receive so much support from other parents, as well as from Elaine and Diane.
Why Go It Alone? Become the Best Parent You Can Be!
Becoming the best parent you can be starts with excellent parent skills training and honing your parent coaching skills. We know that the more skilled parents are at collaborating with their children as “parent coaches,” the more their children “mature” into independent, happy, and successful young adults. It’s a win/win!
We’d love to hear your comments (below). And please don’t hesitate to contact us if there’s any way we can of assistance to you or your young adult child!