The Art of Parenting Adult Children

by Melody Heal

Do our grown children really need or want our advice anymore? What are the healthiest ways to communicate with our adult offspring once they are out of the nest?

The initial incident that helped me identify the progressive change I needed to make in my parenting style with my children was a conversation I had with my then engaged, college-age daughter, Heather. We were in the thick of planning her upcoming wedding. I’ll never forget the firm, yet truthful and respectful words she spoke to me after I questioned her decision regarding her wedding invitations. Her response went something like this, “Mom, I have thought through all those aspects already when making a decision. You and dad taught me well and I am confident this is the best choice for our invitations.” It was at that moment that I knew our daughter had become the self-assured individual we had spent years raising, working towards this end, while guiding her and following the Proverbs 22:6 principle. “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.” Wow! A sense of parental accomplishment accompanied Heather’s reply, as well as, a feeling of change and loss in my role as her mother.

In the months ahead, it became more and more apparent that my daughter was no longer calling me for advice or approval when making important decisions. She now had her soon to be husband with whom to discuss and decide those significant matters. I recognized that my role as a mother was requiring adjustments in my parenting in order for our relationship, which had always been special and close, to remain healthy and God-honoring.

Now that our daughter and son have been married for several years, I have come to recognize several important principles that have contributed to our honest and open communication with them. The most important rule is to listen to our children without interrupting or giving advice. Over time I have come to the conclusion that if they don’t ask for advice – don’t give it. This may be difficult at first, as it was for me, but as you become keenly observant of yourself and intentional about your listening skills when interacting with your adult kids, it will become easier. This practice has assisted in strengthening and establishing a healthy rapport between our children and their spouses.
Equally important is our ability to support our adult children’s decisions, even if we have differing opinions, as long as what they agree on is in accordance with God’s word or follows Christian values. Our continual prayer and encouragement is that they base their decisions upon the core values: honesty, compassion, generosity, tolerance, humor, kindness, excellence in work, and relaxation taught them during their child-rearing years. As well as keeping in mind the “fruits of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22) and the Ten Commandments (Deuteronomy 5:7-21) in all that they do as grown adults.

Finally, another essential parenting ingredient we can divulge, in spurring our mature children on in their intellectual, physical, emotional, social, and spiritual development, is words of affirmation and encouragement when they do things right or make good choices. This is one of those areas that the old saying, “Once a parent, always a parent,” holds true. Since we will always be their mom and dad, we have the privilege of expressing words of pleasure for any and every positive action, word or deed we observe in our grown-up children in order to spur them on to good works.

In the end, as we have found out ever so quickly, our years of child-rearing don’t last forever. This allows us once again to trust God with our children that he will lead and guide them now that they are full-grown adults. As you pray for and with them, talk to them and listen to them. This keeps our channels of communication strong while letting them know they are loved unconditionally. Looking back at my daughter’s comment to me that we had prepared and taught her the skills necessary to make her own decisions affirms that we did our job a parent. I’m reminded of how Valerie Bell puts it: “The sense of ‘I’m crazy about you’ is a propeller. It sends them out into the world with the internal stuff to handle whatever comes their way.” It’s us parents that need to “grow up” in our parenting skills and accept the fact that our kids have “grown up” on us!

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Melody has a desire for women to identify or rekindle their God inspired aspirations
and dreams, as well as, making them become a reality. She has been married tO Doug, the love of her life, for 33 years, and they’ve been blessed with two
incredible children, Heather and Blake, each married to their Christ-following
soul mates.

For 21 years, Melody has had the privilege of impacting lives professionally as an educator serving as a teacher, curriculum director, and currently as the Dean of Academics at Bethany Christian School. Melody’s life-long joy and passion.

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About debdearmond

Deb: Christ follower. Writer and speaker. Optimistically mid-life, experienced - not necessarily "mature". Young enough to discover, explore, teach, serve, mentor, and old enough to know how to do it well! She serves as a writer for the online magazine Destiny in Bloom and she is Co-Founder of MyPurposeNow.org, a website dedicated to helping women over 50 find their purpose in Christ. Deb is optimistically mid-life and excited about the next stage of life and what God has for her now. Her latest print project is a book about the relationships between mot hers and the girls who marry their sons. Deb is wife to her high school sweetheart, Ron, who told her about Jesus and led her to the Lord 39 years ago. Mom to three incredible sons. Gigi to two perfect grandboys. But Jesus is her favorite, and the guys have learned to live with it.
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