How to Love Your Adult Children Really Well

A dozen tips to help you have the best relationship possible with your adult children! One that works for them and for you!

I’m not a perfect parent.

I’ve always known that, but for a long time, I thought, at least, I was perfect for my children. I don’t know if that’s true either.

But…

One thing I do know to be true.

I love them. With all my heart. I love them.

Not perfectly, but completely. Always have. Always will.

I don’t give much parenting advice because well . . . I don’t have much to give. Each child is unique and what worked for me may not work for you and what didn’t work for me might be the answer for you.

Since our children have been grown for some time, I do however have some advice on loving your adult children well.

How to Love Your Adult Children Really Well

A dozen tips to help you have the best relationship possible with your adult children! One that works for them and for you!

 Pray for your adult children and their children.

I’ve always asked God to bless and protect my children. Since watching the movie, War Room, I’m getting very specific in my prayer requests for them. I want to be in the battle for my children and grandchildren.

♥ Tell your adult children you love them. 

Often! They simply never outgrow the need to hear the words, “I love you.” Think about it. You know it’s true.

♥ Forgive the past. 

Sure they messed up. They may have messed up BIG, but forgive and believe God is able to work His plans and purposes in them. Believe in their hope-filled future.

♥ Don’t ask questions you don’t want the answer to.

Your adult children are on their own. Deeply personal questions can come with answers that make you uncomfortable. Do you really want to know about your child’s sex life? Finances? Or the details from last Saturday night? If they want to talk about it, be a good listener but don’t ask.

 Give your adult children room to grow and grow up.

Everyone changes. Admit it. You’re still growing and learning. You don’t have everything figured out. Neither do your children. But they’re learning and growing . . . that’s what’s important.

 Remember, it’s okay to say ‘no.’

They’re adults. You don’t have to say yes to every request for money or childcare or….

 Refuse to manipulate your adult children with guilt.

They didn’t call. It’s okay. Maybe they’re busy. Maybe they’re REALLY busy. Give them grace, then remember phones go both ways. Call them. Better yet, text them. It only takes a minute to type, “I love you.” And remember . . . it’s okay for them to say ‘no’ too.

 Give your adult children the freedom to make life choices.

Career? Where they’ll live? Who they date or marry? You know you have opinions, but it’s their life. Don’t pressure them or make them feel you’ll be disappointed in them or that you won’t be there for them if they choose “poorly.”

 Give your adult children freedom over the holidays.

Balancing relationships is challenging. Remember what it was like when you were trying to please your parents and your in-laws? Maybe you still are. It’s okay to celebrate on a day other than the holiday itself. The important thing is enjoying time together not when you do it.

 Give your adult children a verbal pat on the back. 

They still want to know you’re proud of them and think they’re doing a good job. Tell them. 

How to Love Your Adult Children Really Well by Deb Wolf @ Counting My Blessings

 Respect their parenting decisions.

If they say no sugar don’t try to sneak your grandchild a cookie. If their boundaries are too rigid or not rigid enough for you they are the parents. You had your turn. And NEVER disagree with their parenting approach in front of your grandchild!

 Offer a listening ear with a tender heart.

They don’t always need advice. Most of the time they just need to know you care and that you’re listening. You don’t have to have all the answers. Just be available.

 Toughen up. Avoid giving in to hurt feelings.

They probably hurt your feelings occasionally when they lived at home and it’s possible they’ll say or do something that hurts after they’re grown. They’re not perfect. Neither are you. Let it slide.

 Respect their boundaries and expect them to respect yours.

Boundaries are good for all relationships. It’s important for parents and adult children to have boundaries too. Call before you drop in. Ask don’t expect. Define off-limits topics. And expect respectful conversations.

 Pray again. 

Life is moving at an amazing speed for your children. They need your prayers more than ever and more often than you think.

Let me be perfectly honest with you.

I didn’t get here quickly. You won’t either.

I spent the years raising our children completely invested. I gave it my all, and I in all honesty, I didn’t really want to let go.

But… it wasn’t about me.

It’s about allowing them to become and be the people God created them to be and sometimes the best way to do that is to simply get out of the way and let Him do His work.

Always remember…

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

God will give you all you need to be the parents your adult children need. Remember He got you here. He got them here.

His grace really is sufficient!

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and stop to pray one or two of the requests listed.

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56 thoughts on “How to Love Your Adult Children Really Well

  1. Wonderful advice for dealing with and loving grown children, Deb. I especially took to heart praying for their specific needs. With regards to the rest of your suggestions here, I think I’m doing pretty well. My mother was very interfering in my teen and early adult life, and it was an emotional killer. I promised myself then that if I ever had children, I would give them lots of love but a respectful distance when they were grown.
    Blessings!
    Martha Orlando recently posted..Share the Love!My Profile

  2. Deb, this is such great advice! As a mother of 7 grown children, I can agree wholeheartedly to what you share here. It’s not always easy to let go, but they do have to make their own way. I think it is so important to be available to listen when they want to talk, but not always be “giving advice” because that’s not always what they want. I know they never tire of hearing you say “I love you.” They may not always do what we think they should, but the best thing we can do for them is pray. I’m glad you emphasized that. God bless! I’m visiting from #LMMLinkup

  3. Deb, what a great list! My girls aren’t adults yet, but I can see those years in the not-so-distant future. My husband and I have been blessed to see your list put into action by our parents, so we will try to honor the example set for us. I especially “amen” #9. The “holiday shuffle” has been a challenge for my husband and me as adult children, and I SO want to make this area as easy as possible for my girls. Anyway, I’m rambling. Great list. Pinning for future reference!
    Elizabeth recently posted..You Might Be the Mom of a Tween Girl If…My Profile

  4. #6 is difficult sometimes. Mine don’t ask too often, so I feel I should always say yes, even if it creates extra challenges. I know they would respect a “no” so thanks for the reminder!

  5. Deb, Great insights on parenting adult children!

    One of the hardest pieces of advice I was given by a Pastor, but in the end turned out to be the best, was that for 18 years we raise our children in the fear and admonition of the Lord, after that we need to let them go, and trust in the Lord to work out the seeds you planted those 18 years with our continued prayers as the “watering can”.

    I have also learned with my adult children that “less is more” when it comes to certain responses. It seems it is actually the things I “don’t say” that in the end have the most positive impact.

    Thanks for sharing this edifying post. 🙂
    Karen DelTatto recently posted..God’s First Responder & Emergency Response TeamMy Profile

  6. Deb! I LOVE this! I agree with everything here, only I’m in the beginning stages and needed your wisdom, so thank you for giving it – I’m on the right track, it’ looks like! Especially love the concepts of not guilting them and also toughening up (I have a real problem with that but am working on it)!

    I want to feature this next week on Tuesday Talk on my blog so be looking for it and thanks so much for stopping by! Love this.
    Ruthie Gray recently posted..Tiny Tornado gets a baby sister!My Profile

  7. Hey Deb,

    I had a really tough day, and this post (and a good cry) is exactly what I needed. I book marked this page on Friday with the intent to read it when time permitted, but I knew today was the day.

    You’re entire list is so real – but today, I suffered from #13! Boy, did I get my feelings hurt! Parenting is tough to begin with, and now that my kids are 18, 20, and 21, I feel like I’m parenting all over again!

    They say I smother…I say I’m loving. They say to “back off” – sometimes literally, sometimes figuratively. I go and cry in the corner. But reading your article has confirmed what was already in my heart (boy, how did you get all of this wisdom?), I have to let up and loosen the reigns. It’s just tough feeling like I’m not wanted or needed as much. Why do I always have to learn the hard way?!

    Anyway, EVERYTHING you said here really ministered to me and I really learned from it. I think I’ll print this out and sleep with it under my pillow! :o)

    Thanks for writing to help all of us moms. (I shared this on facebook.)

    Blessing,
    Tiffiney

    1. Oh Tiffiney, Thank you for stopping to say ‘hello’ and share what’s on your heart. I’m so glad this blessed you and remember, I said I didn’t get here quickly. The only thing I will add, is if your kids are still living at home you are entitled to more input. At those late high-school and college ages they want all of the adult freedom while still living under the complete safety of home. So, there has to be more give and take. We’ve had a couple of times when our adult children lived at home for one reason or another and they knew that some of the old rules still applied. It all stems from mutual respect for each other.

      Hang in there Mom, I’m sure you’re doing a great job and you will get there. Melanie Redd has written a couple of great posts on late high-shool/college parenting. You may want to check them out. Blessings and prayers!
      Deb recently posted..Happy Bonus Day! Celebrate Life with Big LoveMy Profile

  8. I read this article from the other side- an adult child trying to navigate relationships with parents and in laws. This list is amazing. It made me feel like my difficulties with parents/in laws are normal, and made me remember again that they are human too and this is a new season of life for them too!
    Kelsey recently posted..Oh Hey, Spring! : A Lookbook for the InbetweenMy Profile

  9. As an adult child I can’t tell you what blessing #10 can be. A compliment said out loud can make such a difference. I think I fell in love with my friends mother in law because she was generous with her praise. We all adored her and felt seen.

  10. What great advice. I already do most of this, but it’s nice to hear it from another mother. Raising children was tough, but sometimes being the parent of an adult child is tough in its own way. I have two daughters whom I love very much, they are very different and I have to deal with each of them on their own terms. I do a lot of listening and not much advice giving unless asked. I love them and pray for them always. Thank you for a great post and a great blog, I’m glad I found you, Suzy

  11. thank you … for your wise words, and all the encouragement I have been reading on this lovely site. I appreciate you sharing God’s word for me to hear today. Thank you for being out there, somewhere, out there in this beautiful sometimes very frightening world. You have reminded me that I am not alone. I will be praying for the requests that I have read as well. Blessings to you, enjoy the SONshine, Jayne

  12. One of the best articles I’ve ever read! Such wonderful and complete advice – and I especially love how you started & ended with praying for your adult children and their families as prayer should always be Plan A.
    God’s richest blessings to you & yours,
    Jewel

  13. Thank You. Thank you for your honesty, and your peace filled and encouraging words. This “momma of a teenager” so needed this today. Seeking His will for her above my own, and trusting HIm to deliver.
    Thank you for sharing the hard stuff.

  14. Deb, i need help . My daughter is 27 and at times immature. she thinks at times in still ” suppose to do ” it frustrate me to no avail. I try to do what is suggested. But im pulled in different ways. She is sick terminally and i think i still try n do beyond boundaries because of her life threatening issues.
    Help me sweet baby Jesus…
    Peace
    VKM

  15. Deb, I am so glad I found your site. I really needed this advice. My husband has said some of these things for a while. I guess I just needed to hear it from another Mom.

  16. I want to tuck away these amazing nuggets of wisdom! My littles are still little, but they’ll be grown before I know it. My own parents and inlaws are following so many of the things you listed here, and it’s been wonderful.

  17. Good stuff! I have a young adult and will admit it has been a challenge for me to let go of the reins in areas I should. Each stage of parenting comes with challenges. While my young adult son is not married he is flying solo in many ways. I’m learning to be thankful for his abilities and confidence and PRAY, PRAY, PRAY! I will hold on to these words of wisdom as I venture further into life with an adult. Thank you!

  18. Thank you for this amazing article. I feel as if it were written just for me and it’s exactly what I needed to read. Everything is spot on with what is in my heart that I could not put into words.

  19. Thank you! I wish more people felt this way, especially my family. I’m 36 and I feel like my whole life has been built on guilt and shame. My mother is getting better at this, but my grandmother is a tyrant. It’s awful. Nothing we do is right and everything is about her. She passes this along to my sister’s children and my children. It gets to the point where I dont want them around her. She makes us all feel terrible about the way we are because it’s not exactly the way she wants it. She’s never told me she’s proud of me, ever. I could go on with examples.
    I wish I could make her read this, but I know that wouldn’t go well.
    I just wanted to say that this is beautiful and it’s nice to know that at least some people out there are doing the right thing. I guess it just doesn’t occur to some.
    I plan to break the cycle. These are words to live by. Thank you!

    1. Jenn, thanks so much for visiting and for stopping to say “hello.” I’m so glad your mother wants a better relationship with her children and that you want to break the cycle of negativity in your family. It’s a life-long effort but I’ve learned that mutual respect and kindness work best in families and friendships. We moved last year, and now we only live a half-block away from each other. The truth… the principles still apply! God’s blessings to you and your family!
      Deb recently posted..Verses that will Help When You Need to Know God’s WillMy Profile

  20. Great advice……i have done most of this, and continue to be there for them. Not needed so much anymore. I enjoy them when they let me.

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