Bravo’s new series, Mexican Dynasties, showcases three prolific, close-knit Mexican families: the Allendes, the Madrazos and the Bessudos. Viewers get an inside look at their lives and, while they live larger than most, so much of their intra-family drama is totally relatable.
For example, the Allende parents are having a hard time allowing their adult sons to mature, leave the house, and make their own decisions. While their oldest son, Elan, chose to move from home and marry against their wishes, his younger brother, Adan, remains at home and is pampered by their parents, who feel the loss of Elan in their daily lives.
Despite being 27 years old, Adan does not have a regular job and instead spends his time getting showered by attention from his parents. Living with them not only offers financial freedom, but they also help him with creative support for his music career that his brother no longer receives since he left home, despite being have the same creative goals.
This begs the question: Is there a certain age when parents should have their adult children go off on their own? And if one stays and one goes, should they be expected to provide equal support to each child despite the different circumstances?
Preparing for an Empty Nest
According to Laura Knoll Myers, child therapist and parent coach, there is no specific age that marks the time a young adult is ready to leave their parents’ house and live independently. Readiness to flee the nest “depends on the unique circumstances of the family, the dynamic of the household, and the available opportunities for the young adult’s future.”
However, just because the child is ready, doesn't necessarily mean the parents are also. (Ahem, Mari and Fernando.) Sometimes that transition can be as hard (if not more so) for parents than for their kids.
Myers explained that “a child moving away can feel like a serious loss and alters the dynamics of a home.” It is essential that parents understand that “it is an important stage of life and a process most adults experience at some point.” Because some parents are fearful of having their children live independently and make their own decisions, some may “continue to treat them as a child, rather than an adult.” However, “thinking of them as incapable” keeps the parents in the role of sole caretaker and it can often be much harder to transition to living independently even later in life for the children.
Encouraging Independence for All Kids
Myers explained that it’s important for parents to support their children’s “movement toward independence,” if they “express a readiness to launch” — even if it’s before the parent is ready to let them go. If the child is already legally an adult and are physically capable of making it in the world, it is perfectly fine to have them try functioning on their own.
However, it's also OK for parents to still provide different types of support even after they leave home. Myers explained that offering support can come in many forms, including helping them find their first solo home, giving them extra furniture, and welcoming them back home for “frequent visits and important family traditions/holidays.”
Myers added that, whether or not your children are at home or on their own, an “important piece of helping them to flourish is by balancing being both supportive of their own decisions and being ready to provide help when needed.” This is the case even if those decisions “are different from what you would choose,” because you “don’t have to agree with their opinion to support their decisions.”
If one child isn't expressing any interest in moving out despite being fully capable, Myers suggested ways parents can help build maturity. These include having them pay for certain bills as to grow financial responsibility (like for their cell phone, clothing, social activities, etc.), helping them find a job, and teaching them how to a create a budget.
Avoiding Sibling Rivalry
In some cases (like Adan and Elan), one child may be ready to leave home before another, so it is important for parents to accept differences without comparing or offering unequal support to the one who stays. Myers explained, “All siblings experience some degree of feelings of jealousy at times as they seek love and acceptance from their parents.”
This sibling rivalry dynamic “isn't always outgrown in childhood and can continue throughout the lifespan.” She explained that while “some rivalry is normal, overt parental favoritism has been shown in psychological research to negatively affect the mental health of all of the children in the family.”
This can happen if jealousy creates resentment in the child who feels less favored, while simultaneously creating unnecessary stress on the favored child by placing higher expectations on them. “Comparing each child’s accomplishments or differences is the most common way to fuel rivalry and can impact your children’s ability to develop positive relationships with each other.”
Myers explained that, although it can be difficult to relate identically across children in all aspects, since every personality and their respective needs are unique, it is possible to be fair and loving to all your children. As a coach, Myers encouraged parents to “offer support to all their children (even if it is in different ways) and find things they can be proud of in each child.”
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