I don't pretend to know everything or to remember 100% what it was like to enter young adulthood. Of course, the world our young people are entering today is quite different from that of yesteryear, and that no doubt impacts them.
Still, I think there are a few things we can, or should, understand:
1. Our children are at the point in their lives where they want their independence. They still need us to some degree, but their may be some resentment around that, and some push-back.
2. They want to be seen as individuals, not mere extensions of us. They are trying new things, testing new ideas, making new friends. They are in post-secondary education, away from home, in the work force, exploring the world. They are forging their own path and you may or may not like it. In fact, they may not care whether you do.
3. It's largely (or all) about them. While they may try to make some things all about you (why his or her life sucks, for example), don't take it personally. As previously mentioned (here), their pre-frontal cortices are not fully developed yet, they typically don't have big-picture perspective, and they certainly don't have the understanding that comes from years of experience. Don't engage in a losing battle that stems from a flawed comprehension.
4. While you can try to explain why they need to think of others at times, don't expect them to change (at least not right away).
5. This is the time for excellent, deep conversations about things that matter - faith, politics, the state of the world, etc. As long as you're willing to discuss and not lecture/harangue/ moralize, conversations on less "personal" topics can be quite fun and enriching. You might even learn something worth investigating further!
6. Eventually, your children will become less self-absorbed. It may take a few years and you may have a bit less hair or a few more worry lines, but once they've figured things out and decided who they are (or who they are going to be), the emotional road will be less rocky. They may still make choices you don't like or agree with, but ask yourself: did your parents agree with all of your decisions? Did you all survive? Are you able to spend time in their company today? Be encouraged that the relationship with your children will also even out. Who knows? You might actually like them again! (And they might like you!)
Key thought: don't take personally your child's growing up process or emotional distance. This too shall pass!
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