What does independence look like?

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Young adulthood is a difficult time for parents of adopted children. We want our children to be independent, make adult decisions, and find their own way in the world. We want them to develop separate and deep relationships with others while still remaining close to us emotionally. It is hard to know what kind of relationships with our children will best enhance their lives. It’s hard to know if the fact that they don’t call us for a month a good thing or alarming. Should we offer to pay to get them out of difficulties or let them deal with the results of their own decisions? When we agree they can come home between jobs or between relationships, is that being warm and supporting or enabling irresponsible behaviour? (From Chapter six, Thicker Than Blood: Adoptive Parenting in the Modern World http://ow.ly/HCIe301GclI

I’d like to say that this gets easier. It does if your child achieves independence and lets you know where the boundaries of your relationships are. Then you only have to respond to a realistic, adult relationship  with boundaries set by your child. It is harder when your child has trouble being independent and still wants to be protected within the family circle; if he or she is afraid of intimacy, or afraid of independence.  Then you need to consider what is the most compassionate way to help your child to that independence. Every decision becomes a moral dilemma fraught with weighty consequences.  We may have to fight our own need for love which fears change and wants a child forever. We may be afraid that our child’s independence means a withdrawal of their love. This is the situation where a wise counsellor is necessary. We can’t always see our own motivations, nor can we always see what is best for our child. For adopted children in particular, this difficulty with independence and intimacy can manifest when our child is in his twenties or even thirties. Parenting is surely a long-term project.