Is My Adult Child Ready for A Life Coach?

We parents of adult children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and/or ADHD, of course, want the best for our kids. We want them to live happy, productive and independent lives if at all possible. Unfortunately, that can be easier said than done.

Oftentimes, our adult children continue to live at home with us post-high school and/or post-college. And let’s not kid ourselves, at the very least, this can be a trying situation for all involved. What’s a parent to do?

Well, before you throw your hands up in the air and surrender, take solace in knowing that yours is not a hopeless circumstance. Far from it.

Okay, if you’re still with me, some of this must have resonated with you. Trust me—I feel your pain. Maybe you’re unhappy with your current stage with your adult child—but you’re unsure of how to resolve or improve the situation. From my perspective, there are two possible scenarios I’d like you to consider:

1) Your adult child is open to change and can do so via life coaching and/or therapy. For the purposes of this post, I’m sticking to my area of expertise—life coaching.
2) Your adult child is not open to change, therefore you as parent(s) can choose to be coached on ways to modify the status quo. Keep in mind, you can’t change your child, but you can change how you react to your adult.

Let’s start with the first scenario. As a parent, you can seek out and introduce your adult child to a life coach and/or therapist but anything that happens after that point is determined by them. So, your involvement here is rather limited.

Experience has taught me that too many parents are desperate for a quick fix—paying no mind to whether or not the adult child is a good candidate for life coaching. To ensure the best outcome, it’s important to be mindful of a few basic tenets:
• A life coach and/or therapist does not have magic pixie dust that will make your son or daughter change and do the things you want him or her to do. I’m sorry, it’s just not that easy.
• The adult has to not only recognize and be aware of the current conditions but must also want to make changes.
• Further, your child has to request support and guidance to help assess all the options that present themselves so he or she can make the choices that feel the most comfortable and that ultimately move him or her forward. This is no small task.
• Bottom line, who wants the changes to occur—you or your adult child? It’s important to take time to clarify this crucial point.

A speech-language pathologist and author Michelle Garcia Winner included an instructive graphic (shared in this article ) that illustrates the various stages of independence for ASD adults. In my opinion, coaching shouldn’t even be considered an option until someone has scaled the mountain of life and is at Level 7, 8 or 9. Do you know where your adult child is on that scale?

Moving on to the second scenario, if your adult child is not yet at Level 7 or higher, then your best resolution is to change your family dynamic and learn how to have discussions with your son or daughter that are collaborative in nature and that take into consideration your concerns and those of your child. Collaborative Problem Solving (CPS) is a proven approach that can work wonders here, where you, as the parent, learn how to express your concerns and determine how to stop enabling the present situation.

Believe it or not, many of us parents (especially those dealing with ASD) are absolutely working against the independence of our own children. I certainly don’t want to think this is a conscious decision, but when we choose to walk on eggshells in our own home to avoid outbursts or violence from our adult kids, we become enablers and actually hamper our kids’ chance at a successful life outside the home. Fortunately, there’s a way to alter this whereby you, the parent, would seek life coaching to help you integrate CPS into your parenting style.

So, if you’re a parent who’s unhappy with the current state of affairs with your still-living-at-home adult child, but unsure of how to remedy the situation, consider the ideas I’ve proposed here. Don’t get stuck and do nothing—simply determine which of you is ready for coaching and take appropriate action.

Think of it this way: If you have stones in your shoe and it hurts to walk, would you keep walking with the stones, or instead would you come up with alternatives that eliminates the discomfort? Many people stop and make a change so they can end the pain with every step. I invite you to consider doing the same with your life. Maybe a life coach isn’t in the cards for your adult child—but if that’s the case, then you should get the coaching as the parent. Either way, you’ll both benefit.