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Sara & Audrey

This week on the podcast, Sara Kuljis and I talk about the challenges of having young adults (high school and college age) stuck at home during a season of their lives when they are most wanting to separate from us and be with their peers. In this episode, we talk about how to better understand and cope with our young adult children’s behavior, especially during COVID.


Sara is a good friend, fellow camp professional, and a regular podcast guest on Sunshine Parenting. Sara is the mother of three young adults (two college students and one high schooler) and a Gallup Strengths Coach. She is the owner and director of Yosemite Sierra Summer Camp and Emerald Cove Day Camp. Sara offers popular parenting workshops in Southern California, including one we do together (Raise Thriving Kids).


COVID has in many ways, robbed young adults of the opportunity to really lean into where they naturally are in their developmental stages.

Parents can help honor losses. I think it’s important to name, What makes me sad? What makes me frustrated? Why do I feel angry? And not all young people know how to identify where those feelings are coming from.

Feeling the loss with them, holding it with them or telling them that it’s okay to feel yucky about those things. I think that’s a really important role that a parent can play, hold losses without judgment. I think it’s also important that we need to acknowledge our own losses,

This COVID season might be a season for some of us to be thoughtful and to kind of step back and look under the waters, even reach out for some professional help if necessary.

We as parents, for some of us, we may need to let go of some of the smaller battles or the smaller concerns. It’s not about the GPA perhaps this semester or this year. It might be more important to focus on a healthy relationship and how to manage stress and how to be supportive.


Ep. 139: Doing Life with Your Adult Children with Jim Burns

• Jim Burns “Doing life with Your Adult Children: Keep Your Mouth Shut and the Welcome Mat Out”

Raise Thriving Kids


• Sarah: “You know, for some young adults, older teens, and college students, COVID has ended up being kind of a gift for them.”

• Audrey: “Knowing that this is not something that as an adult, we can say, ‘Oh well, I didn’t get to go on this vacation this year, but we can go in a couple of years so we can get it back.’ For these kids and that age, they won’t get it back. So that’s sad. That’s a real loss that is hard to even fathom because we didn’t go through this at their age.”

• Audrey: “I think that’s one thing that we need to remember through all this, even though their behavior and their response might irritate us, I think really digging deep to that empathy of realizing how different it is for them going through this then it is for us as adults.”

• Sarah: “I really felt compelled to kind of remind myself of the developmental stages that these young adults are in and go back to the root. Why and how is this young adult needing to behave this way? Where’s this coming from? And it’s great to realize and to remember that the developmental stages that these young adults are in are times where they are searching and ready and wired for autonomy and self-reliance and some new independence.”

• Audrey: “I’ve talked about this a lot with parents is that you have these children and you nurture them and you raise them and really your goal is to make yourself not necessary. Which is a weird job. Have a job where the end goal is to not be needed anymore.”

• Audrey: “We need to recognize that we have some ambivalence about our kids growing up and becoming their own people.”

• Audrey: “I think that’s on both sides, we have to really do some adjusting and thinking about how this is impacting us and our families.”

• Sarah: “As best as we can remember not to take their crankiness, their uncooperativeness, their irritability, maybe their silence, or their anger personally.”

• Audrey: “It’s really the same kind of communication stuff that we need to be doing all the time with our kids regardless of their age. That whole validating things, sometimes parents get it wrong. Where if our child is sad about something, even if it seems unimportant to us, we need to validate the feeling and not undermine what they’re going through.”

• Audrey: “If we want our kids to keep talking to us about things we can’t diminish what’s important to them, which is maybe different than what’s important to us.”

• Audrey: “That’s what I think a lot of times we do that as people, whether it’s with our children or another relationships, we react to what was said or the eye roll or whatever it is. And then we’ve missed that opportunity to connect over something much more important.”

• Sarah: “As parents, we start as caregivers and then they get a little older and then where their coach and then we move into that consultant stage.”

• Sarah: ” To sum up everything, this is messy. But with thoughtfulness and with a real partnership with our young adults, I think we can be okay.”

• Audrey: “Many adults are going through hard things right now. So I think we can also model for our kids in terms of if we need some counseling or some support to show them that it’s okay to do that. And that lots of people are doing it right now.”

• Audrey: “So I just want to encourage people that everyone’s going through a hard time. And even if people are posting happy photos, there’s some strife going on inside homes everywhere right now. And we need to just realize that that’s human nature when you’re stuck together for a long time. And especially when kids who are meant to be out and about and spreading their wings have had their wings clipped.”


Raise Thriving Kids Parenting Course

Ep. 152: Putting on Your COVID Mask First

Ep. 153: Rethinking School & Education During the Pandemic

Ep. 132: Creating Structure, Fun, & Connection

Ep. 139: Doing Life with Your Adult Children with Jim Burns

Ready for Adulthood Check-List for Kids

Who’s Not Ready for College?


This week’s One Simple Thing tip is to start (or continue) a Daily Family Sharing practice. You can read about it more in this post:
How to Have a Closer Family in 5 Minutes a Day


A Year of Positive Thinking for Teens, Katie Hurley, LCSW

A Year of Positive Thinking for Teens, Katie Hurley


Transform your thoughts and find the confidence to navigate your teen years with positive thinking

Being a teen can be an emotional roller coaster. When you’re overwhelmed by unrealistic expectations from your friends, family, social media feed, teachers, and even yourself, it’s normal to have thoughts and feelings like This is too hard or I’ll never measure up. With A Year of Positive Thinking for Teens, you’ll discover how to overcome these anxious thought patterns, and build a happier, more positive mindset to achieve your goals.

Let go of stress with relatable prompts and reflections―all grounded in positive thinking and positive psychology strategies. Find a daily dose of motivation through insightful quotes and affirmations designed to encourage you to embrace happiness one day, one thought, and one year at a time.

This guide to positive thinking includes:

  • Pockets of joy―Practice positive thinking in the moment with this beautiful, easy-to-navigate, and portable book.
  • Achieve your dreams―Insightful quotes and affirmations will help you remember your strengths, stay motivated, and reach your goals.
  • Teens like you―From self-esteem issues to social media stress, you’ll discover prompts to help you through a wide range of issues teens face every day.

Find confidence, courage, and clarity on the road to adulthood with positive thinking.



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