If you’re a fear-driven parent, you could be leading you child down the very path you’re so desperately trying to avoid. Good news. There’s hope. Check out my article, Are You a Fear-driven Parent, featured on Crosswalk NOW, and discover practical tips for parenting by faith instead of fear.
I also want to add some parenting tips for guiding adult children.
This past Saturday, I had a radio interview with LuAnn and Friends on Encouragement Café. During the interview a caller expressed her grief over the choices being made by her adult son. She was also struggling with how to “parent” the situation. Here are a few tips I offered:
First, Stop Parenting Your Adult Child. Once your child reaches eighteen years of age, your parenting is done. Don’t misunderstand me. You can still guide your child just in a different way. You and I stop parenting and start mentoring. We should only offer advice and guidance when invited to do so. This is hard. I know. I’m a mother of a twenty-three year old. When he makes choices I disagree with or disapprove of, I want to rush in and correct him—sometimes even judge him. However, this only drives my adult child away from me—often pushing him to do the opposite of what I’ve suggested. We want to avoid this at all cost. The first step is realizing our relationship with our adult child has changed.
Secondly, Love Your Adult Child Unconditionally. You and I gain the right to mentor our child when we love them unconditionally. In fact, they will begin asking for your opinion instead of trying to avoid it when they trust that no matter what they are loved. Children are going to make mistakes in life. They will even sin and do things against God’s law—just as we have. Yet, when we sin, the bible says that nothing can separate us from the love God—NOTHING! (Romans 8:38) Thank God that His love is strong enough that nothing I do can destroy it. One very important truth we must never forget is–its love that draws us back to God.
Consider the adulteress woman. We know for certain that she was guilty because she was caught in the act. Did Christ judge her? Did He condemner her? No! He gave her what every heart needs…love and forgiveness. Then, after the woman was convinced of His love, he said—“Go and sin no more.” Christ didn’t come to excuse our sin but to restore the sinner.
There’s a pattern in this story. As parents, we’d do well to follow it:
Love no matter what (plus) forgive all (equals) the right to mentor.
Finally, Love Your Child Not Their Actions: When you and I maintain a healthy adult relationship with our child, we can influence them for good. If we write them off because they’re going against our beliefs, how can we be a voice of truth? How can we point them from darkness back to the light? We can’t. This means we need to be involved in their life. Take interest in their dreams and passions. Then, when a bad decision is made by your child, you’re present to hold them accountable.
One way to achieve this is by taking your child to lunch. Instead of pointing out what they’re doing “wrong” ask how you can pray for them. Share your heart. Perhaps you could share a similar story from your own life as to why you’re concerned. Ask if you can encourage them with scripture, resources, etc… on the subject. If it’s something they really want to correct, ask permission to help hold them accountable.
If you don’t see eye to eye, ask if you can share your convictions about why you’re against their choice or sin. Remind them that while you don’t approve of their choice and can’t be an active participant, you love them. Then, [THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT] find ways you can support your child and continue your relationship. It’s the only way you’ll be able to influence their life with truth.
You and I can also pray for our child. Pray that their eyes will be turned from darkness to light. Pray for their hearts to be turned toward God and His ways. Pray for godly mentors to come into their lives. Pray for experiences, songs, and occasions to come along that remind them of what’s right, good, pure, and noble. Then, trust God to work behind the scenes drawing your child to Himself and to all that is right and true.