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Understanding and Addressing Feelings of Jealousy When Parenting Young Adult Children

Understanding and Addressing Feelings of Jealousy When Parenting Young Adult Children

Understanding and Addressing Feelings of Jealousy When Parenting Young Adult Children

Can you see us? she texted. We arrived fifteen minutes before start time. We took the closest seats we could find, the stadium is one of the largest stadiums in the city. The seating tiers ascend in multiple levels, providing unobstructed views of the event from virtually every angle. It was noted that her graduating class was the largest of its kind and the first to graduate post-pandemic.

I stood up and looked in the direction of rows reserved for those in various STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) programs. She, along with three of her closest friends could be seen waving and mouthing “Hello, is anybody out there, come about,” a saying from the movie Titanic, that we often say when looking for each other in a crowd. 

I waved back and snapped a picture of her and her besties. They are part of a generation of young people who despite facing unimaginable disruptions, and political and financial instabilities, move with so much power and sense of self, that one can’t help but pray to live long enough to witness and be a part of the changes promised by their resilience and determination to change the narrative of what it means to be young, beautiful and carefree.

It is a tradition in our family to thank the grounds or a space where we’ve spent a significant amount of time and acknowledge the experiences we’ve had there. As the commencement came to a close and we began walking to our car, I turned back to look at the stadium and the building she once called home and thanked all energies for keeping an eye on my daughter, and her friends, as I knew, while this day signified the end of one of their most life-changing journeys, real work, and life-altering tests starts now. 

When my daughter left for University she left with guidance and life jewels that I hoped would help her better navigate life as a teen in the beginning stages of a chapter filled with opportunities, challenges, and self-discovery. Weeks after her return home it became obvious that she had grown in ways that required me to not only adjust my expectations of our relationship, but I needed to be open to reassessing my role in her life to ensure I don’t become part of the many challenges experienced by young adults learning to define their why.

Parenting young adult children is very complex. And for those who don’t have or didn’t have healthy relationships with their parents, or feel resentment for years lost during childrearing, nurturing a relationship where acceptance, compassion, and grace are the foundation of the relationship, can feel like a great impossibility.

While there is no one way to cultivate and maintain healthy relationships with young adult children, having the understanding that the process starts with parents who are unafraid of looking inward when dealing with what they deem unacceptable behavior and life choices, is the first step in nurturing relationships where grace and compassion are integral parts of the process. 

It is not uncommon to hear young people talk about jealous tendencies or experiences they’ve endured at the hands of a parent who is jealous of their youth, carefree personalities, and positive life-changing opportunities (both professional and romantic), after college.

For parents raised in homes where they were put in a box, denied freedom of self-expression, and carefree lifestyle, seeing their children explore aspirations they once had but couldn’t pursue, or witnessing their child chase dreams or opportunities that were once out of their reach can trigger a sense of longing or regret, leading to feelings of jealousy.

Making a conscious decision to look inward and address past pain and regret when trying to help your young adult child navigate through the many growing pains associated with being a young adult, is the first step to cultivating a relationship free of jealousy and regret.

Encouraging personal growth and finding fulfillment in one’s own life outside the mother-child relationship is essential. Engaging in hobbies, pursuing interests, or seeking personal development can bring a sense of purpose and fulfillment that will lessen, if not completely decrease feelings of jealousy and lost time.

Understanding where you are pulling from when trying to guide and advise young adult children, asking yourself, is this advice coming from positive life experiences? do I have their best interest at heart? am I projecting, or pulling from a place of regret, fear, or lack?

That kind of self-reflection will ensure your advice and guidance are not coming from a place of envy or regret, but advice that will lead to a deeper connection built on empathy, mutual respect, and unconditional love.


How to Build Meaningful Relationships with Adult Children

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