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How to parent a young adult

Listen to your children for what they say, not what you think they say. They are changing rapidly and you should be open to their new thoughts and ideas.

Be forgiving. Mistakes in early adulthood are not signs of indelible character flaws, they are par for the course in a transition period which is becoming more extended as society becomes more complex.

Recognise the difference between loving support and over-involved fixing. They will gauge their limits by learning from their own experiences.

Humiliation is the greatest threat to the child/parent bond. "I told you so," or "Why can't you just grow up?" may seem like mild expressions of exasperation, but they can chill your young adult child to the bone.

Encouragement from parents is never wasted. "You're not a disappointment. I know this is a difficult phase, but you will find your feet," will uplift a flounderer, whether they acknowledge it at the time or not.

Be clear and consistent about finances. Gifts should be made in the context of trust and appreciation, not as bail-outs for irresponsible debts. Help your child structure the repayment of a loan, but do not make it go away.

Tolerate returns home. When young people make false starts, they need to retreat before they try again.

Let them go and they will come back - that is the paradox.

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