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Stop Calling Young Adults "College Kids"

While it can be tough to watch your teenagers grow into young adults and move away to college (or University, depending on the school), it is important to realize that the language you use can be impactful. If your child has graduated high school and is moving out of the house to move to a college (or even staying at home to study), they are no longer a kid. They will always be your kid, but they are no longer a “kid”. With more young adults staying at home, this line may seem blurred. However, it is important to realize that your young adult may be young, but they are an adult.

This is where some people may think that being an adult requires experience. You are an adult because you have learned to juggle bills, have raised children, and have been facing the world without ease for decades. Still, your child is now an adult too. Your child may not know how to do their taxes, or which garments should be dry-cleaned, or how to make the perfect pot-roast, but that does not mean they are not an adult.

If you continue to “label” your young adult as a kid, it becomes easier to rationalize making their doctors appointments, or making them luxurious dinners when they are home on break. Thinking of your young adult as a kid may also encourage you to do their laundry — and it encourages your young adult to act like a kid. They are no longer a kid. They are an adult. The urge to help your child may never go away, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t sometimes ignore it.

This is not the only problem. If young adults feel belittled by older adults it can be harder to choose career paths, or to make life decisions that are independent. As an adult, it is the job of us young adults to sink or swim and learn to navigate the adult world. We should not be asking for parental permission to obtain a degree, or to go to a party. We should not painstakingly worry if our mother will approve of our outfit choices, or the pizza we ate at 3 in the morning. Why? Because, we are adults. The decisions we make, even bad, are our own. If we fail? It is our job to pick up the pieces and put them back together.

In our late “teens” (after 18) or early “twenties” we may be young and we may be inexperienced, but we are not kids. We are adults that are learning how to steer our own agendas, and as tough as it may be, the older adults need to let us be. If we ask for help, it may be time to offer some sound advice, but that does not mean you should fix our problems. We must learn to negotiate rent-agreements with our landlords, learn that legal obligations are important, and we must learn to stand up for what we believe in, or what we deserve. We must also learn how to be “the little guy” so that we too can grow as adults.

Our feelings may be hurt when we are disappointed. We may fail. We may sometimes feel like adulthood is hard to manage, but we are still adults. We are capable of making our own decisions, and if we fail? Then we fail. We learn the hardest lessons of all: how to behave when your back is against the wall.

Stop calling your young adult a “college kid” because the two do not go together. Your child has moved on from being a kid and it is time that they are responsible for adult decisions. If you are able to help support them, that’s awesome, but you shouldn’t think that just because you are willing to help that they should not be responsible for their own paths. Having parental support is great, but we also need to learn to make friends that will have our backs — outside of the shallow halls of high school we must learn whom we can trust, and whether we value our family is a lesson that must be learned.

It may be painful to realize that your kid is no longer a kid, but the amazing part is that you’ve already given them the skills that are needed to be an adult. The hardest part may be to sit back and watch your adults make their own decisions, but it’s worth it. Parents and grown children can go past a relationship of authority and learn to become something just as great, your friend. It’s no longer time to be “the bad guy”. Your grown child is an adult, and it’s time you let them be one — for better or for worse.