by Julie Forland, M.Ed., of Back on Track Student Solutions
Raising a child into an independent young adult is a challenging if not daunting process. It does not come easy; nor does it occur by happenstance. The process takes years of purposeful parenting. However, sometimes even the best intentioned parents find themselves “parenting” an adult longer than ideal.
Parents of young people often ask “Why can’t my adult child manage on their own?” The answer to this question is varied, yet today’s young people struggle more than prior generations. And parents are constantly asking for reading material to help them better understand the situation. Below are the top six books recommended for parents of young adults:
- Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend is a classic on the concept of boundaries in relationships. It teaches what healthy boundaries are, as well as what it looks like to overstep and enable. This book is good for all adult relationships: parent/child, partners, adult siblings, co-workers, and friends. The authors assist in helping us to learn how and when to say “no”, as well as teach how standing up for ourselves actually grows respect from others as well as our own self-esteem.
- Setting Boundaries with Your Adult Children by Allison Bottke is also about boundaries, but this book focuses specifically on young adults. The book discusses the need for parents not to overstep into the lives of young adults as well as how to keep their own parental lives separate (physically, emotionally, and financially). The book contains many real life examples of families managing well, as well as those with significant struggles. Most importantly, it teaches that it is never too late to make adjustments and changes for the better of the relationship between parents and their adult children.
- When Our Grown Up Kids Disappoint Us by Jane Adams takes an in-depth view about the long-term effects of fractured parent and adult-child relationships. The author recognizes the grief that parents feel with the loss of a relationship with an adult child. The book talks about adult children of any age, not just young adults; and even discusses the added complication of grandchildren. The book examines both healthy and unhealthy boundaries as well as how to implement relational changes, wherever a parent might find themselves along the way. A comforting read for parents that have been struggling for years.
- Walking on Eggshells by Jane Isay is a fabulous book about how even well-intentioned parents can find themselves manipulated by, and at the mercy of, their adult children. The book shares examples of difficult situations that some parents are unable to free themselves from. The book discusses the challenge of loving adult children, yet not liking their behavior. A must read for any parent feeling their life with their adult child is out of control!
- Now That They are Grown by Ronald J. Greer teaches parents about the change in roles from parenting teens to parenting young adults. The author discusses how parents can learn to love and nurture their children while encouraging independence. Most importantly, the author discusses how parents can support without enabling.
- How to Raise an Adult by Julie Lythcott-Haims discusses the fact that the goal of parents isn’t, in-fact, raising children, but rather, raising adults. The author teaches the importance of allowing children to make their own mistakes in order to teach problem solving and resilience. By encouraging children to grow their own capacity, and giving them freedom to fail, children learn that they are able to take charge of their own lives. A must read for a parent of a teen or college student.
You can pick one book, and yet you need to know that all of the above books are excellent. It is recommended that parents read two or three of them and synthesize the information into their own situation.
Parenting young adults is a lengthy, demanding process, but parents that embrace the task and engage fully, will find life-long lessons and improvement in their relationships.