Stepping back as children hit adulthood is hard for parents, but a relationship expert says it is essential

Stepping back as your once kid is fast becoming an adult can be liberating, but also tricky.

Licensed professional counselor Natolie Gray says it can be hard to let go of calling the shots as a parent.

"A lot of the times the challenges that I see is that the parent doesn't know how to transition out of being the one that's telling them what to do, how to do it, and to being what I call more of a consultant  and standing in the role of the consultant, which is very different for parents," Gray says. 

When children are young, she says, letting them make mistakes could sometimes be dangerous.

"So, we're always concerned about them getting hurt or something happening," Gray explains.  "Letting go of that mindset, and that idea that, even if they choose something you don't agree with, it doesn't mean danger, it doesn't mean threat.  It might mean that they might have some challenges or consequences, but they're not life-threatening."

Sometimes the best thing parents can do, is to take a step back.

"To allow them to kind of come up with their own decision, but pull back and see, ‘Do you need help? Do you need assistance,  and do you need support,’ versus trying to just step on in there," she says.  "You want to give them the space to make the decisions and to make the mistakes."

Gray says there will be friction.

Their dating, school, and career choices may not align with your plans for their lives.

"But as you get to that point in parenting, it's really about letting go and allowing them to live a life that they choose, with the understanding that there are consequences of that, and they may have to go through those consequences," she says.

And she encourages young adults to be clear with their parents about what they need.

"Do you need them to listen, do you need advice, or sometimes you just need them to agree (with you)," she says.  "That is so helpful as the parent to listen to some of those keywords ,where they may say, ‘I need your advice. What do you think?’ They're asking for it. And, you don't always have to go to fix-it mode.  Sometimes, it is listening."