Releasing Older, Unmarried Children

Mary hesitates to release her “favorite” son to be on his own. He is 33 years old, preparing to finally get married.

When her son persists to leave home, Mary suffers a long crying spell. She feels like “losing her child.”

I’m reminded of a 58-year-old woman in one of my group sessions. She still asked weekly allowances from her parents.

She never left home. She never got married, had a career, or her own circle of close friends because her parents wanted her to take care of them and her siblings.

Looking back, she regretted the things she missed in her life. All caused by constant quandary over her relationship to her parents and family.

There’s psychological danger when parents hesitate to let go of their older children.

Whether 25, 45, or 65, older children need to be released, mature, and take responsibility over their own lives.

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Otherwise, we produce irresponsible, purposeless citizens out of this possessive or selfish mistake in parenting.

My kids have grown up: two are now gainfully employed young adults in their middle 20s and one has reached the legal adult age of 18.

Even as I give myself away, I also give my children away so they can be on their own. I encourage them in it though I remain available to them.

Aside from phone/video calls or face to face visits and occasional outings - which always thrill me to death - I show them that I’m still there but no longer their head.

I’ve gained - and the world gained with what I gained : older children who’ve been actively learning to be independent, goal-oriented, and responsible members of society.