Stop Nurturing, Start Empowering Your Young Adult!

When do young people begin emerging as adults?

When the parent or employee stops treating them like a child and starts expecting adult behaviour.
If maturation is a process – how can parents and bosses ensure that they are not stunting their young adult’s progress? Just getting out of the way is a great start!

Babies and small children need total care giving because they are not yet equipped to assess situations to make decisions and take appropriate action. But as the child grows – he becomes more capable of looking after himself. The relationship between the adult (caregiver) and child is constantly changing so that the balance of control / power diminishes over time as the young person gains the knowledge and skills to take over.

In a co-dependent relationship, the adult does not recognize the opportunities to allow the young person to grow up. Long after the appropriate time, this parent is still nurturing (as in care-giving) instead of equipping and empowering the young person to be independent.

Release yourself from the role of nurturer!

1. Increase your expectancy then speak it!

Lift your expectations to change your dialogue. No more baby-talk, nagging or negative conversations about the past.

Use positive affirmations:
Parent – “I am excited about you going flatting and taking care of yourself.”
Boss – “It’s time you ran that machine on your own. I reckon you will do a great job.”

Talk up their dreams. It is not for the parent or the boss to judge the validity of the young adult’s dream. Dreams are fragile – they don’t take much to destroy. Instead – be a sounding board for what needs to take place to make it happen. An unrealistic dream usually becomes obvious as being unattainable when they start to make a plan to achieve it. Let your YA discover that for herself.

2. Don’t do for them what they should do for themselves or for others

This weakens your YA, stunting their skill development and confidence. It is also a form of control on the part of parents and bosses. When people feel controlled – they may respond with rebellion or worse still with passive aggression.

• Ramp up social responsibility.
Stop writing the thank you card for the gifts they receive from grandparents. This is between the Grandparent and Grandchild and none of your business!

Don’t you buy the birthday gift for their friend – make them plan this into their time and budget.

• Expect your YA to manage her own health
Time to stop telling your YA what to eat – you wont be with her in the flat.
Rather – make sure there are good food choices in the house and be the example.

Stop being responsible for his medication.
When Mum administers the meds, the YA is physically and emotionally tied to her. He will grow to hate the very help he has been happy to receive and to resent the person giving it. Since resentment and gratitude cannot co-exist in the same heart-space, eventually resentment wins! The parent feels confused and unappreciated while the young adult feels claustrophobic and distrusted.

Recognise and take responsibility for what you are doing for your YA that keeps you in a co-dependent relationship. Your YA wont take leadership if she thinks you are going to have a meltdown about letting go.

Note about passive aggression:
Rebellion is obvious but passive aggression is far more insidious because the perpetrator usually doesn’t understand how she is doing it. Passive aggression can be resistance to following through on a promise. It can be the refusal to accept much needed help. It is the ultimate self-sabotage and it leaves its victims bamboozled because it is hard to pinpoint.

The root of Passive aggression lays in lack of relationship intimacy and by nature causes the aggressor to withdraw and isolate. Passive aggression often leads to depression.

3. Help your Young Adult grow in Character

The ability to handle difficulties is directly related to the strength of one’s character. Character is like muscle – and can only be built by the owner. Let your young adult sort out his own issues. Sure, you may help him with advice on how to handle the situation – but let him face it alone. This is also a good way of ensuring that the young adult gets to feel first hand the consequences of a mistake or bad behaviour; or to think through the long-term outcome of a decision.

4. Help your YA move from consumption to contribution

We are all selfish until we understand that success and happiness comes from contribution and not consumption. Take your YA out of silo thinking where it’s all about them and expect her to contribute to the family. Vacuum the whole house and not just her room. Cook a meal for the whole family and not just for himself.

5. Recognise and Celebrate all progress

It’s one thing to teach – it’s another thing to expect results. However, seek progress and not perfection. Small wins give us confidence. Leadership is developed daily – not in a day. (John Maxwell) It is important to acknowledge these wins immediately to stimulate a repeat performance.


Look for ways that you may be slowing down the maturity of your young adult. Discover the pay off of why you are babying him or her. Are you afraid that you won’t be needed or loved if you stop nurturing?

Have confidence in yourself and in your young adult. Love them enough to Lead them enough so that you can Let Go!