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.
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 here 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
- Pray for them. 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 them 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 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 them 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 them 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 them 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 them freedom over 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 them 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.
- 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 conversation.
- 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’d completely invested in my kids lives. I gave it my all, and I didn’t really want to let go.
But… it wasn’t about me.
It’s about allowing them to 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.
And always remember…“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9