Breaking free from generational codependency is never easy.
Psychotherapist Dr. Sharon Martin, who specializes in helping adults who grew up in dysfunctional families, recently shared 12 ways to empower young adults and prevent yet another generation of trauma.
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12 Ways To Parent Young Adults To Prevent Codependency
1. Encourage self-discovery.
As your child grows up, they naturally get curious about the environment around them. They begin to explore and yearn to have a sense of independence and control over their surroundings.
Encourage your children to find new friends and sign up for activities. If they are in college, encourage them to join a club or go to a rally.
Support them through these stages, but don’t interfere too much. They need the space to figure out what their own likes and dislikes are. As well as what it is they truly desire.
2. Have age-appropriate expectations and foster independence.
Speaking of independence, your expectations can clash with your young adult’s independence.
Clinical psychologist Eileen Kennedy-Moore writes, “A useful guideline is that reasonable expectations for a particular child are what the child does most of the time now, or just a bit beyond that.”
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t encourage progress. It means you should be mindful of your unrealistic expectations.
For instance, until your child’s brain is fully developed they may still struggle with planning and problem-solving. Aid them during these processes but be sure to not baby them. Let them reach out to you when they need help.
3. Teach healthy boundaries and respect their privacy.
As a young adult learns to respect boundaries, they will become increasingly aware of the people around them. Developing better understanding and compassion can build empathy.
Prepare them for the inevitable. When a co-worker or professor doesn’t respect their boundaries, allow them to vent to you. Discuss the situation with them and allow them to come to a resolution by themselves.
4. Acknowledge their emotions.
Feeling misunderstood by your parents can be frustrating for a young adult. But as a parent, it’s your job to get them halfway there. Remember, a person’s brain isn’t fully developed until 25.Therefore, they may still struggle with their emotions and impulses.
They need time to figure their emotions out — so let them know that this is more than okay and that their emotions are normal and meant to be felt.
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5. Teach them coping skills.
Coping skills can help your young adult child regulate their emotions during difficult times.
Rosa Klein-Baer of The Child Mind Institute suggest modeling healthy coping methods that may include:
- Going on walk.
- Writing in a journal
- Listening to music
- Practicing positive self-talk
She also suggests being open about your emotions — even the negative ones.
“If you only show your child your cheerful, relaxed side,” Klein-Baer says, “they may get the message that difficult feelings are something to be ashamed of or avoid.”
6. Work on your codependency recovery.
Remember, healing codependency starts with us. Our kids observe our behavior and pick up both our good and bad habits.And if we want to break generational codependency, we need to be aware of our codependent behaviors.
Set healthy boundaries in your relationships and be aware of your attachment style. Always communicate respectfully with those around you and spend time by yourself.
7. Detach with love, if needed.
Your young adult may have a hard time letting go of codependent behaviors. And as a parent, the best thing you can do sometimes is detach with love.
Allow them to experience life on their own and provide support when needed while expressing the importance of independence. Create goals together and find ways they can become self-sufficient on their own.
8. Take responsibility for your parenting mistakes.
Messing up from time to time is normal, but it can feel awkward to admit your mistakes to your kid.
However, there are two things to remember when you own up to your mistakes:
- Your young adult will respect you more for it.
- Your young adult will model this behavior in their relationships.
Difficult as it may be, your young adult will thank you for your sincerity.
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9. Prioritize your self-care and encourage your child to do the same.
Knowing how crucial self-care is, how can we model it to our young adults?
Every Parent PBC tells us to let our kid watch and experience our self-care routine. Let them see you in that face mask and have them join in. Practice positive self-talk and express your boundaries when things get overwhelming.
10. Model healthy relationships.
Growing up my mother stressed the importance of relationships. She would tell me, “Be careful who you get married to because your child will pick up on their behaviors.”
According to CHI St. Alexius Health, “Children are like sponges, and more than likely, they will model our behaviors later in life.”
Understandably, this modeling of behavior begins with our own relationships.
11. Don’t avoid conflict.
Having the urge to avoid conflict is a common experience for most. But when the going gets tough, the tough get going. You have to brave the storm to create a healthy relationship with your young adult.
During conflict be sure you both are in a good headspace for a respectful conversation. Express your concerns and allow them to do the same. Then come up with a fair resolution together.
Allow yourself to take a breather if things become heated.
12. Normalize asking for help.
I despised asking for help growing up — to the point I was scolded for being too independent.
But as I grew older I began to realize why asking for help was crucial. Constantly doing things on your own can cause you to burn out and become stressed.
And though independence is a great measure of success — too much can be detrimental to their mental health.
So, ask your kid for help during chore time and help them when they’re busy. If they are going off to college, ask them what they need. Help them pick things out and get involved!
By incorporating these methods you can break generational codependency and set your young adult up for success.