In years past there was a societal expectation that stated that youth should become fully independent by the age of eighteen and that this independence at the outset of adulthood is a sign of success for the family. In recent years there has been a movement toward a new model called Emerging Adulthood. In this model it is understood that the majority of young adults are not ready to be fully independent at the age of eighteen and that they benefit from continued support as they gradually work their way fully into adulthood. Societal trends have also validated this concept of emerging adulthood as we see more and more adolescents staying home and attending community college or other pursuits.
Emerging adulthood is a time of tremendous change for both the young adults and the parents. These profound changes can put a great strain on the relationship between parent and young adult especially when they are still living in the same home. Counseling can be an excellent support to families during this time and may take many forms.
The young adults often benefit tremendously from individual counseling to support them in structuring themselves, making decisions that are safe and they feel good about, and in navigating a lot of new unknowns that can be confusing and challenging. Parents can also benefit from either individual or couples counseling as they are entering a new life phase and often benefit from strengthening their relationships and developing new passions, pursuits, and hobbies. Family counseling can also be very helpful in negotiating and establishing a new set of boundaries and expectations and learning to communicate on a mutual adult level while also ensuring that family members feel honored, respected, and heard. This work helps to put the parent-child relationship on solid ground and establishes the beginning of a healthy and connected adult relationship between the parents and their emerging adult.