As a mom to five “kids” who are now ages 18-35, one of the most important lessons I’ve learned in three plus decades of parenting is how important it is for moms to have emotional support and camaraderie during every stage of parenting.
And there are many stages of parenting!
We go from the heavy physical demands of the early years including nightly sleep deprivation, eating on the fly (and often leftover, cold chicken nuggets), carrying our 20-pound babies in their car seats, some of us balancing a toddler on the hip while breastfeeding the newborn to get through the grocery store (don’t laugh, it’s possible…I know, because I did it once).
From there we plow through the busy elementary years, not as physically taxing, yet whether you have one kid or five, you are constantly running in 10 directions to keep up with the myriad extracurricular activities and homework that comes with this territory.
Enter the middle school years where our kids are gaining independence at the same time, they forget their lunch at home three times a week. You struggle to teach them organization and the natural consequences of being disorganized. Is it their brain? Yes. Is your kid the only one? Let me answer with a resounding NO.
If you can keep from pulling your hair out this long, surely the teen years, the “mentally challenging” stage of parenting will help you become both gray and bald. This may be a time when sleep deprivation rears its ugly head again because your kid is staying out later and you vow not to sleep until they are safely back home after driving around town all night with their friends.
Let’s be honest, all the stages of parenting can be hard while you’re in them.
I remember when I was an amateur (my eldest was in high school senior, his fifth sibling and only sister a nearly newborn) and I nonchalantly said to a friend, “As long as I can get them to 18 everything will work out.”
This is where many parents will spit out their coffee while laughing.
I, like many other parents, have learned that the post high school years can be the coup de gras of parenting challenges. Looking back at all the years and all of the stages, parenting during the 18-25-year stage has to be the most challenging, hands down!
Why you ask? Because this is when any illusion of control you once had goes out the window. Whether they are living at home or away at college, parents fret their son or daughter may, at any given moment, make the mistake of their lifetime that will undoubtedly change the trajectory of their lives. Because it happens to young adults all the time. The mistakes are bigger and potentially more costly. Parents are keenly aware of this.
How do I know this is true? Not only because I’ve been in this stage of parenting with at least one kid since 2006, but because I work every day with parents who struggle with their young adults. Young adults who have mental health challenges, substance use issues, those who can’t find the courage to get out in the world and gain employment, or those who are involved in unhealthy romantic relationships. Some of these young adults have multiple struggles.
Do you know one of the most important things parents can do while going through this stage of parenting with their young adult?
Get support for themselves.
And do you know how often that happens?
Not often enough.
Emotional support for parents, specifically moms because they are typically the emotional barometer of the family, is absolutely necessary to survive the transition of parenting that comes post high school graduation.
Moms need and deserve emotional support in all the stages of parenting, but they are the last to put themselves first to get it. They gotta be overwhelmed and ready to collapse before they gift themselves permission to receive the support they desperately need.
Because I realized this many years ago, for myself, and in seeing the need in moms all around me, I started a support group for moms. It didn’t exist that I knew of and sometimes, when you don’t have what you need, you create it!
My mom support group has had a few iterations over the years. Pre-COVID it was an in-person gathering and met monthly at my husband’s travel franchise in Flower Mound. Of course, during lockdown, we pivoted to becoming an online group. That allowed moms from all over to join.
But even during the midst of one of the most challenging times in history, though moms needed the space to vent and encourage one another, they often put themselves last and didn’t make the Zoom call.
I wasn’t willing to give up on this idea though. I myself needed the support and camaraderie of other women going through their teen’s development and I believed in the power of moms working together.
In early 2022 I revamped and readvertised the group calling it The Empowered Moms Group. Because I’d developed a significant online following, when I relaunched the concept, it stuck. Today it continues growing slowly, it’s a place for moms of 18+ have the option to come together twice a week to confide, converse, and create the confidence needed to parent during the young adult years.
No one talks about how hard it can be to parent with young adults. The power of women walking the same path helps them feel less isolated. I’m so grateful for the moms who show up each week to support one another.
As we celebrate Mother’s Day this month, may you give yourself permission to ask for the help you need. The saying, “it takes a village” is no joke!