Every parent of adult children has moments of remorse when their children make mistakes and let’s be honest, in the not-so-proud moments of parenting. We feel we are somehow to blame and don’t know how to handle this phase of life that seems to be “hands off” to parents. The feeling that we did not do enough to prepare our adult children nags at our conscience and can create a co-dependent or distant relationship if we are not careful. While our culture admonishes parents to let go, there is still a healthy role that parents can and should have.
Parenting Adult Children Requires Grace
“But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.”
Every child wants to know that their parents love and accept them. It is an inherent need—even when they are fully grown. The same grace God gives us is the same grace we need to give our children. But there is a balance between grace and enablement. And when we overstep their independence, things can get tense in a hurry. Grace helps us to encourage our children in the way they should go but does not demand or force it. That includes manipulation or controlling maneuvers. Most likely our adult children will not do things the way we did them, but we are sometimes surprised when they do and also conversely grateful when they don’t. Because grace reminds us that we made mistakes, too.
Parenting Adult Children Requires Love
“Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.”
—1 Peter 4:8
Love cannot be conditional upon our children doing things the way we think they should be done. It is their life to live (and their stewardship responsibility to do so) and our role is to come alongside to encourage them in the way they should go, however, sometimes the most loving thing we can do is to be silent and pray for them. Loving our adult children can be demonstrated by being an ear when they fail and not chiding them for their failure. Loving our adult children can be as simple as sending them encouraging texts or messages to remind them of what you love about them.
Parenting Adult Children Requires Forgiveness
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
This world is hard and unforgiving. It can be easy to hold a grudge because we feel justified in so doing, but when we extend sincere forgiveness to our children without compromising healthy accountability, boundaries, and godly standards, our adult children know that we are a safe place through life’s twists and turns. Just as the Lord, because of His grace, has forgiven us, we also should forgive our children as we model out His grace in our lives. This might mean developing a little thicker skin and not being so sensitive when they might not need us as much. After all, that is part of the goal of successful parenting.
Parenting our adult children is complicated, but not impossible. Our legacy and our children’s legacy hinge on how we handle this time of transition. Over the coming weeks, we will be sharing a series on some of the challenges parenting adult children can bring…as well as principles for successfully parenting our “adult children”. We hope you will join us for this series and that you will be encouraged in one of the most significant roles God has you to play on this earth.
Yours for a Thriving Legacy,