How to Have the Relationship You Want with Your Adult Children

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My favorite tips for having the best possible relationship with your adult children - ways to enjoy the holidays and actually want to spend time together. #Parenting #AdultChildren #Holidays #Family #CountingMyBlessings #WWGGG

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

My favorite tips for having the best possible relationship with your adult children - ways to enjoy the holidays and actually want to spend time together. #Parenting #AdultChildren #Holidays #Family #CountingMyBlessings #WWGGG

♥ 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. 

My favorite tips for having the best possible relationship with your adult children - ways to enjoy the holidays and actually want to spend time together. #Parenting #AdultChildren #Holidays #Family #CountingMyBlessings #WWGGG

♥ 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.
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  1. This is so well said and all inclusive. I deeply loved, still do, my children so it was very hard for me to realize there were boundaries when they were on their own. I have slowly learned to give space and allow God and them to just be. I didn’t know at first that I should do that. I have gotten somewhat better, but I love being around them, still.

    1. Hi, Jean. It is a process. I don’t think any of us can apply those boundaries all at once. It is definitely learned in fits and starts. But the blessings of letting them live their own lives and entrusting them to God’s wisdom and care is one that touches everyone involved enabling the best relationship possible. God be with you and bless you!

  2. Loved the photo of your family, Deb! Yes, even though our children are grown, they still need our love and our prayers, not our interference as they grow in God’s grace. You’ve given us such great reminders here. Thank you!

    1. Aw thanks, Martha! We think they’re pretty great! Sounds like you are a wise mom who has a great relationship with your grown-up kids. God be with you!

  3. Great boundaries and tips for loving our adult children well, Deb! I think I follow these fairly well but praying my children is at the top of my list! Helps not only them but my heart toward them! Hugs to you!

    1. Thanks, Beth! I agree. Prayer needs to be the covering of the entire list. It helps them and us. Amen! And by God’s grace, His love covers it all! God bless you, my friend!

  4. I always enjoy reading your thoughts. Helps me to see I don’t have to be a perfect parent to my adult children. Wish I was closer but history and distance just doesn’t allow. I pray for leaders like you and ask you pray for mr as well. I want to live my best life in my retirement years.Brenda Kinsey Florida

    1. Thank you so much for your prayers, Brenda. I so appreciate them. I always wanted to be the perfect parent . . . the truth is, there is no such thing. We are all flawed people raising little flawed people. By God’s grace and with His help, we can still love each other well. God bless you!

  5. SALLY BOES says:

    Love that you chose this topic. We so often forget.

  6. Deb

    I love your site and insights. They are always timely topics that help me right where I am. Letting go and stepping into this new stage of adult children was really hard for me but with time and good advise like yours I am moving forward and now as a grandparent bursting with new love and energy and prayers for the next generation. I like you believe covering them in prayer is one of the best ways I can love them. Thanks for your webpage and I count it as my blessing over and over again as new topics are posted.

    1. Nancy, thank you so very much for your very kind encouragement. Moving into the adult children stage of life is definitely a growth process for all involved but I believe you will love it. And I love the way you describe being a grandparent. Bursting with new love is the perfect way to say it. Thanks again and God bless you!

      1. Aganetha Knelsen says:

        Hi Deb I love you comments on adult children I have four children i love my children they are all grown up one is married i have three grandchildren

        1. Thanks so much, Aganetha! May God bless you and your family! Enjoy those grandchildren! <3

  7. Your insight always strengthens me in my determination to keep growing in Christ! Not always taking my adult children’s input personal has helped me a lot. Emotions can change so quick! Watching them move through the very same years I have makes me remember how lost I felt at times. Love and forgiveness are the best tools I can give them and prayers!

    1. I’m so glad you were encouraged, Bonnie! I agree! Remembering where I was at their age, helps me remember that God is working on them and in them just like He did with me. We’re all works in progress that need His patience and love . . . and the encouragement of our families. Thanks so much for visiting and for taking the time to join the conversation. God bless you!

  8. Jacqueline says:

    Thank you for this post
    I have two grown sons. I feel I’m still to them the “overprotective controlling mother”. Ugh. My husband and I stopped drinking and gave our lives to Christ after my son was born (he’s 33 now). Our desires were to see them follow us as we followed Christ. But they joined navy and picked up worldly ways and I’ve been praying for them consistently and still learning to let go and trust in God to lead them to Him. It’s been difficult for me…I’m too idealistic I think and Ive failed many times at communicating correctly I suppose. It’s a grieving for me. I want them safe and whole without going in the directions we went. Ugh. I desire so much for us to be One in mind and spirit without the obvious walls between us. It’s getting better but…
    I pray fir all the parents praying for and missing their prodigals.
    Thank you again for your post
    Bless you

    1. Oh, Jackie, that’s hard. I’ve had to remind myself, when I feel guilt about my children, that I did the best I knew. You were doing the best you know to do at the time. We try to protect them and we know the difference a close walk with the Lord can make in their lives. Give yourself grace and keep praying like crazy. Remember, the Lord loves your sons even more than you do. He is at work in them and around them. I’m praying, too. God bless you!

  9. Dear Deb,
    I found this article after searching Pinterest for “ways to reconnect with adult family members”. I know that an online search is typically not a sure way to get answers to life’s questions, but God knows me and I found you and your excellent article. I love your honest and thoughtful writing and felt instantly at ease. I’m rebuilding connection with my family after a years-long series of events, have asked God to give me opportunities, and he has! Now I’ve found your writing ministry and am eager to read more. Thank you for being faithful to pursue what Jesus has placed upon your heart to share. It is our highest calling to be who He’s made us and be obedient to His calling. It’s how we bear fruit, bring Him honor, and bless our world. So thank you! You encouraged me today. With love, Joelle.

    1. Joelle, the Lord truly used you to bless and encourage me today. Thank you so much! I’m thanking the Lord for prompting your visit and asking Him to go before you as you make efforts to restore family relationships. May you all be blessed and may He receive all the glory. God be with you and bless you!