On her eighteenth birthday, Sky felt ready to be an adult. She had been longing for more freedom ever since she started high school. Now, she felt she could finally make her own decisions and live under her own rules. Legally, she didn’t have to do anything her parents told her. She was officially an adult and ready to take on the world. Like many young adults, Sky was in for a rude awakening. Her first year of college dorm living did not go as planned. She was in constant conflict with her roommate, struggling to make friends, and reconsidering her decision to move so far away from home. The decisions she was faced with triggered stress and overwhelm. She felt ill-equipped to handle her newfound independence and found herself talking with her parents more often than she did when she lived at home.
Sky’s parents did their best to support their young adult daughter. They wanted to provide her guidance and encouragement but weren’t sure how. They were about to fall into the common parenting pattern of rescuing, solving her problems, and telling her what to do, rather than supporting, which would allow Sky to develop healthy independence. Wisely, they reached out to me for help.
Through parent coaching, Sky’s parents learned when to let go and when to step in and problem-solve on her behalf. Most importantly, they learned how to start thoughtful conversations that inspired reflection and promoted Sky’s healthy independence.
The following questions will help your young adult develop a broad perspective, gain a sense of calm and control, and determine her best next steps, without you stepping in to do it for her. These open-ended questions encourage independent thinking and problem-solving. They help young adults connect with their strengths and abilities so they feel competent in handling whatever life brings their way.
- Are you beating yourself up for what happened or using this situation to help you grow? How can this situation help you grow?
- Are you focussing on what’s right or what’s wrong? Is that helping or harming you?
- What is a more helpful and honest way to experience or think about this situation?
- What do you need in order to feel/be successful here?
- What is one small step you can take that will create a positive shift?
- How would things change for you if you did _____?
- Are you making an assumption or is this a fact? What are the facts/the truth?
- What is the most ideal outcome here? What is a small step you can take toward that ideal outcome?
- What will happen if nothing changes?
- What personal quality or talent can you use right now?
BONUS- Can I offer a suggestion? I know you can figure this out on your own, but I have an idea that might help.
These questions work! I use them every day with my teen and young adult clients and I am always amazed by their thoughtful responses. I see them connect with their power and wisdom, and move forward with competence and intention. I hope they will strengthen your connection with your daughter and usher in responsible independence.