Dear Barb—A Mom’s Lesson

Dear Barb:

I am the mother of two—one 18-year-old and one 12-year-old.  I have worked all my life at low paying jobs and finally decided to try some online courses to see if I could do it.  So far, I love it, though that is not what I’m writing about.  The problem is my 18-year-old just finished high school and I always assumed he would go on to university or college.  He has done well in school and it just seemed natural for him to continue, however it seems that was not his plan. 

My son just informed me he is going to travel the countryside for a year with a friend that he recently met.  They are planning on leaving in September, with the hope that the pandemic will be over or under control.  I am so devastated.  I couldn’t say anything when he told me; it took me about week to be able to respond.  I tried to tell him I did not want him to go and that he needed to go to school.  His response was that this is an educational experience and he was definitely going.  I can’t believe he is just going to defy me like that.  His father tells me to back off, that Jordan is a mature, responsible boy and we should support his venture.  I am fearful he will not return to school and never be able to get a good job and make a good living.  Do you think we should just let our son throw away his future?

Thanks for your input.


Hi Georgina:

You are just being a mother who is learning to let goI agree with your husband, you have to let him go. Honestly, you really can’t stop him if this is what he wants to doHe is 18 years old, the choice is hisIf you argue with him and try to stop him from going you will only cause problems in your relationship with him and you don’t want him to leave under those conditionsHe may be back sooner than you think, or he may find his niche in lifeA parent’s job is to support their children, but that doesn’t mean you can’t caution them about potential problems he may encounterShare your wisdom with your son, without being critical and making him feel like you are treating him like a childWhen you begin parenting adult children, your style has to changeYou will encounter differences in your personalities and behaviours, and you have to accept these differences as you would a friend’s differencesOffer support and encouragement while maintaining the lines of communicationI found a book you may want to check out on Amazon: Emerging Adulthood: The Winding Road from the Late Teens Through the Twenties 2nd edition by Jeffery Jensen Arnett.

Best of luck Georgina.

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