Someone Forgot to Mention How Hard It Is to Raise Young Adults

As a mom with 25 years of experience under her yoga pants, I thought I’d learned a thing or two about mom life. My understanding was that the tough stuff of parenting naturally disappears as our kids reach adulthood and start to do life on their own. We spend 18 years putting in the hard work to love our kids out the door against all odds and then settle down for a long winter’s nap, right? Wrong-o.

The last four years of empty nest in my world have clearly shown that the hardest part of this mom gig is just beginning. My three millennial 20-somethings are wonderful and insightful teachers of this truth. The good news is, they are also wonderful and insightful teachers of faith, hope, courage, and resilience. All character traits we’d do well to have PICC lined into our mom heart during this season of motherhood.

Parenting young adults is not always what I anticipated (sunshine and roses) and is often harder than I imagined (fear and trepidation). Don’t get me wrong. This season is full of awe and wonder, joy and gratitude in countless ways. But if I’m real, parenting from a distance is equal parts brimming with pride and bursting with angst.

Think about what’s in play during this stage: career choices, relationship issues, mental health struggles, world travel, living arrangements, safety concerns, financial hardship, illness, and emotional bedlam everywhere. You know, little stuff. Gah!

From what I can tell, the What to Expect books ran out of ideas after the 18-year mark. Too many variables and unknowns when kids become adults. The unpredictability and heaviness of watching our young adults find their way can be emotional Armageddon for a worrier mom like me. Note to you: don’t be me.

Shelby Spear
Shelby Spear
Shelby is a sappy soul whisperer, sarcasm aficionado, and pro-LOVE, Jesus adoring mom of 3 Millennials writing stuff & doing life with her hubby of 25 years. You can read her stories on her blog at, around the web, and in print at Guideposts. Shelby's new book, co-authored with Lisa Leshaw, is now available: How Are You Feeling, Momma? (You don't need to say, "I'm fine.")

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