After nearly 40 years spent working with schools September will always be the start of a New Year for me, January 1st is just another day in my diary, and this September has its unique set of stories as thousands of parents prepare their young people to move on with the next step in their lives. After the tense excitement of the exam results in August many families are creating survival kits for their son or daughter’s first term living away from home while others are worrying about how to get their child motivated enough to maintain or improve their grades over the coming year.
September is also the start of the empty nest syndrome for many, where parents and particularly mothers feel a sense of loss for the family life that was and their role within it once their children have left but there is a new syndrome to be found in Britain today for over 3 1/2 million families, the endless nest. More and more young people are staying at home with Mum and Dad even whilst they’re studying and a great many more return once their studies are over. Whether this is due to the high cost of housing as many newspaper reports suggest, to do with young people’s expectations of a certain standard of living or my own personal favourite the result of changes in the way young people are parented the result is often the same – a young adult sharing a space with the older adults who raised them.
When my writing partner Alison Baverstock and I decided to write a book for parents of 16 to 23 year olds it was clear through my workshops and conversations with parents that whilst some wanted to move on in their lives and felt held back by offspring who were determined to stay put or unable to move on themselves there were other parents who with the very best of intentions created a home environment that anyone would want to stay in -free food cooked to order, a well-stocked fridge and open bar, free rent, no expectations and responsibilities, a free taxi service and laundry and ironing on demand. A wonderfully comfortable home but one which can create a dependent or helpless young adult in order to satisfy a parents desire to still feel needed.
‘Later, a guide to parenting a young adult’ is both a handbook for parents who want to do the best for their young person by helping them become an independent and self assured adult as well as a comforting and encouraging support for parents to take the next independent steps in their own lives. So much so that Alison, who has experienced the bittersweet leaving, the joyful return and the endless negotiation of boundaries that comes with all stages of parenting young adults with her 4 children, though not all have yet made the step to full independence, is now backpacking around South America with her husband for their first holiday alone since they became parents.
Whilst Later doesn’t claim to make you into Alison it can help you negotiate boundaries in your shared home, prepare your young person for the world of work or study and potentially a family life of their own by offering wise insight and advice, top tips, case studies, quizzes and the ever popular question and answer sections.
You can read Alison’s blog of her trip so far on the later Facebook page (www.facebook.com/Later4parents)