Parents Worrying About Grown Children
Can’t sleep? If you’re an empty-nester you might have your adult children to thank. One study suggests parents will still be worrying about grown children and this also keeps them up at night.
Parents with kids who are out of the house didn’t need a study to tell them that. They’ve learned the hard way that anxiety about our kids doesn’t end when they grow up.
The question is, what do you do about all that worry so you can actually get a good night’s sleep?
Worrying About Your Grown Children
The study took a look at how often parents interacted with their kids in the following ways:
Are you best friends with your child?
Talking about daily events.
Do you chat every day to see what’s new in their world?
Are you the one they call when they are feeling upset?
Are you the on-call babysitter?
Are you the loan officer in the family?
Take a hard look at those interactions to make sure you (or your children) aren’t going overboard in any one area. Balance is important in any relationship.
How to Stop Worrying So Much About Your Adult Children
1. Remember that you are not their life manager.
Your role is not to manage their world. You’ve had your chance to manage your adult life. Now it’s their turn.
2. Stay connected, but not too much.
Because of technology and social media, we can be way more connected with our kids than our parents were. That’s not necessarily a good thing. Too much insight into their lives is not healthy for either of you.
It gives you way more to worry about.
If you get anxious everytime you call and they don’t answer, the problem may be that you’re calling too much. They have lives of their own and you shouldn’t expect them to respond to you no matter what.
Text or call once in a while to let them know you’re thinking of them but add a little “I know you’re super busy so don’t worry if you can’t respond right now.”
3. If they want your advice, they’ll ask for it.
Your opinions and ideas will be most appreciated when you are asked for them. Learning not to offer unsolicited advice about their lives will help free you from feeling as though you need to fix everything.
4. Remember all the things your own parents did.
Did you hate it when they told you all the things you should be doing but weren’t? Was it upsetting when they explained how to fix a problem even though you didn’t ask? Did they show up at your door unannounced and silently judge you over a messy house?
Learn from them by not doing the things they did that were upsetting to you.
5. Give yourself permission to be happy even if you worry your kids aren’t.
No one is happy all the time, nor should they be. We’re humans! We learn as much (or more) from our struggles and unhappiness as we do from the good moments in our lives.
When they face challenges, try to be thankful that they are being given an opportunity to grow as human beings.
In closing, know that worrying about your kids doesn’t stop.
It’s how we’re built. A flip doesn’t switch at a certain age.
But, worrying about your adult children so much that you’re not sleeping is not only unhealthy for you, it doesn’t help them. You’re no good to them if you’re stressed out to the point that you’re making yourself sick.
If you find that you’re really struggling to sleep at night because you can’t get your kids off your mind, it may be time to talk to someone about it. Try learning to meditate, or working on some breathing and mindfulness exercises.
If you’re not sure what’s best, MentalHealth.gov is a great place to start to make a plan that works for you.