It’s almost that time of year again when families will gather together for the holidays. The time when personality clashes, opinions, behaviors, and attitudes put a strain on the relationship between parents and their adult children.
We all want to have ongoing great relationships with our adult children but they don’t always happen easily. But before I share some of my favorite advice . . . I want to tell you something important—I’m not a perfect parent. Not even close!
I’ve always known that but for a long time, I wanted to believe that I was at the least, perfect for my children. However, I’ve given up all my pride and understand that even when it comes to my children . . . it’s not about me.
Whether I’m perfect or the complete opposite of perfect…
One thing I do know is perfectly true.
I love them. With all my heart. I love them.
Not flawlessly, but completely. I always have and I always will.
I don’t tend to give much parenting advice because well . . . I don’t have much to give. Each child is a unique gift from God and what worked for me may not work for you and what didn’t work for me might be the answer for you.
Considering that our children have been grown for some time, I do have several tips and a bit of advice on the best ways to show mutual love and respect to your adult children . . . ways that everyone can do their part to have the best possible relationship.
How to Have the Relationship You Want with Your Adult Children
♥ Pray for your adult children and their children.
I’ve always asked God to bless and protect my children. As they’ve grown I’ve gotten much more specific when I go to the Lord on their behalf. I want to intentionally be in the battle for my children and grandchildren. Life is hard but God is good and I trust Him completely to care those He has entrusted to me and, if possible, He loves them even more than I do.
I pray faithfully that they might…
“grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”2 Peter 3:18
♥ Tell your adult children you love them.
Often! Your children never outgrow the need to hear the words, “I love you.” Think about your own experiences and your relationship with your parents. You know it’s true. Say “I love you!”
♥ Forgive the past.
Sure they messed up. They may have messed up BIG, but forgive and believe God is able to work His will in them. Trust that God is working on them and in them and believe with hope for His plans for their future.
“I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”Jeremiah 29:11
♥ 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 something—count it a blessing!
♥ 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.
Be patient. You’re not who you were at 25 or 30 and they aren’t who they will be when they reach the age you are now.
♥ Remember, it’s okay to say ‘no.’
This is important! You didn’t say yes to everything when they were little and you don’t have to say yes to everything now. They’re adults. You don’t have to say yes to every request for money or childcare or….
Then return the blessing and give them grace. Don’t make them feel guilty if they don’t say “yes” to every request you make.
♥ Refuse to manipulate your adult children with guilt.
And speaking of guilt . . . you don’t like being manipulated by it and neither do they. So – 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” or “have a great day.”
♥ 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.”
Then remind them that you’re praying for them!
♥ Offer a listening ear with a tender heart.
And they don’t always need your 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.
♥ 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.
You can make any day a celebration and sometimes that’s more fun than forcing a gathering just because of a date on the calendar.
♥ 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.
♥ 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 . . . remember that they are the parents. You had your turn. And NEVER disagree with their parenting approach in front of your grandchild!
♥ 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 now that they’re grown. They’re not perfect. Neither are you. Forgive them and let it go!
Be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.Ephesians 4:32
♥ Respect their boundaries and expect them to respect yours.
Boundaries are good for all relationships. It’s not only okay, it’s important that parents and their adult children have boundaries. Treat them like you treat your friends. Call before you drop in. Ask don’t expect. Define off-limits topics. And expect respectful conversations.
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.1 Corinthians 13:4–7
♥ And finally . . . 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.
Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.1 Thessalonians 5:17–18
I need to share one more thing with you…
I didn’t learn and put these things into practice quickly and you won’t either. I don’t always follow the list perfectly even now. But it is my goal.
I was completely invested during the years we were raising our children. I gave it my all, and in all honesty, I really didn’t want to let go.
But… it wasn’t about me. It wasn’t just about them either . . . it’s about letting God work on them and in them. It’s about allowing them to become and be the people He created them to be and sometimes the best way to do that is to simply get out of the way and let Him do what’s needed. It’s about focusing on having a friendly relationship with your adult children and letting God be the One who is their perfect parent.
So give yourself grace and give your children grace, too.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”2 Corinthians 12:9
God’s grace is all-sufficient. He is able and will give you all you need to be the parents they need. And He will give you what you need to have the relationship you want with your adult children.
I’d love to know what you do to have a great relationship with your adult children . . . let us know by leaving a comment below.
Thank you so much for joining me today.
And a thank you to BibleGateway.com for sources.
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