helping our young adults live in fullness

helping our young adults live in fullness

This morning another full moon filled our skies— at 1 am MST to be precise. Some of the full moons in 2024 are named Wolf Moon, Hunter’s Moon, and Cold Moon… but this one is named Worm Moon… not exactly an inspiring name, if you ask me, but perfect for the topic of this post.

My oldest son is nineteen, not a child, not yet a man, and he’s dealing with challenges. What concerns me most lately are the types of thoughts that worm their way into his mind. Thoughts where he discounts himself, tells himself he should be more, do more, without giving himself credit for what he’s accomplished.

For years, he poured his heart and soul into musical aspirations with his band which recently lost an important member… causing my son to lose a lot of his inspiration and juice. All of the socializing after the shows takes a toll on him, too, and he’s in a place where he’s wondering if music is really what he wants to do after all. He said it like he’s boxed into a corner and doesn’t have other options. And I looked at him and said, “You’re nineteen. You’re young! Let your mind work for you, not against you. If you want to try something else, do it and see where it takes you.”

He has mad skills on the guitar and would go far if he’s willing to put energy into it. But right now I’m not sure what he’s going to do. In fact, he quit the band last night. It was tough but sometimes you have to quit what you know isn’t right before you’re able to feel your way into the next right thing. It’s scary. But there are no guarantees. This is life. So he’ll continue to take a few classes and figure out the next right thing.

He told me he wanted to be significant. I said, “You are significant, just by being here.” He said, “Well, that’s a new way of looking at it.”

Our society does place a lot of our worth in what we accomplish, and accomplishing our goals does build self-esteem. But accomplishments don’t make us more or less valuable. They do put us in a better position to thrive.

And he’s accomplished a lot already in music yet battles with not feeling good enough. What does he need to accomplish to feel good enough? It’s an elusive end goal and probably can’t be reached unless he gives himself credit for what he’s accomplished already and is at peace with who he is now. It’s like he’s caught between thinking, “I’m too invested to start over with something new” and “I’m not good enough to make it in music.” Well, yeah, I’d feel shitty, too, stuck between those two thoughts.

We’ll see what the future holds. I just want to see him pursue his path but not from a place of striving. Instead, from a place of thriving.

It can be unnerving having kids. Seeing them struggle. Witnessing their self-doubt. Touching base with the self-doubt you’ve experienced in your own life and grew from, too. Knowing it’s impossible to transfer your years of growth in this area to your child.
You can relay nuggets of truth. You can be an example. But you can’t walk the path for them. They must come into their fullness on their own.

The other night, while driving, I was filled with angst over my son’s turmoil. But straight ahead, through the windshield what appeared to be a full moon blazed above in the night sky. Apparently, not quite as full as this morning’s moon, but full and bright to my common eye… and immediately, within my angst, I was moved by the moon’s beauty and felt a connectedness and appreciation for having more time to practice coming into fullness, just like that moon. And another day to be here for my son as he practices coming into his fullness, too.

The most important element I took away from this article is this: from now on, when I talk to my nineteen-year-old, I’ll ask him, “What would you like to see happen next?”

This is important because I’m realizing more and more, I can’t control the outcome of my son’s life. Only he can do that. What I can do is listen and then ask the question, which puts the next step back into his court and helps him visualize what he would like to see happen. Sometimes things fall into place. Sometimes they don’t. Here are the main tips from the article and you can click the link to read more detail.

How to Help Your Young Adult When They’re Struggling

1. This is normal.

In his book, Emptying the Nest: Launching Your Young Adult Toward Success and Self-Reliance, Dr. Brad Sachs states, “No amount of education, care or effort is going to inoculate you or your young adult against disappointment and disillusionment, challenge and complexity.”

2. Don’t freak out.

If you freak out, your young adult is more likely to freak out.

3. Don’t catastrophize.

Predicting the worst is never helpful. There’s a good chance your young adult will get through it okay when they’ve experienced a set back. (I personally translate this to FOCUS ON WHAT YOU WANT not what you don’t want.)

4. Let your spouse or grandma take the call once in awhile. (This one makes a smile… we all need a break sometimes.)

5. Ask questions like, “How can I help?” or “What would you like to see happen next?”

6. Remind yourself: their future is not in your hands.

7. Don’t take it personally if they curse at you.

8. But, do consider it could be about you.

9. Offer reasonable support.

10. Consider if the issue with your young adult is related to substance abuse or mental illness.

For mental health issues, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is a good parent resource.

11. Realize you cannot fix everything.

“In education, they have a term, scaffolding, which means supporting kids just enough to get them to where they can learn or do the next thing on their own.”

12. Young adulthood can be a challenging time of life. Most young adults will be fine.

To read the article in its entirety, click here.