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Posts tagged ‘Parenting Adult Children’

Tips for Giving Advice to Your Adult Children

SOURCE:  Mark Merrill

For years, I’ve marveled at how good my mom is at giving advice.  She has a knack for knowing when, and how, to do so.

And as my kids have entered adulthood, I’m even more impressed by her example.  But it can be so hard, with all my years of experiences and hard knocks, to keep my parental opinions to myself.

Giving advice well starts with knowing when the conditions are right for our older children to hear, and really think about, our advice.  Giving advice well also requires some artful actions.  Here are some tips to consider:

The Best Times to be Giving Advice:

  • Give advice when you’ve been asked for your advice.  I’ve noticed through the years that my mom, as well as my dad and Susan’s parents, were patient with their advice. And that patience made me more willing and interested in seeking their advice. For the most part, they only gave advice when they were asked to do so, plain and simple.
  • Give advice when you recognize something that could potentially harm them physically, emotionally or spiritually, and you’re not sure they see it. Generally speaking, my mom keeps her thoughts to herself and lets us work through things on our own.  But when she believes she sees a landmine in our lives that we might be blind to, she isn’t afraid to speak up.  She risks being viewed as nosy because she cares more about us than about her own feelings.
  • Give advice when you are in a frame of mind to be gentle with your advice. Whether I asked for my mom’s advice or not, she has always been gentle in her delivery. She understands that a parent should want not only to be effective in expressing advice but in getting that advice to be grasped. If you are in a highly emotionally-charged state of mind, that’s not the best time to share your advice.  Be sure you can maintain control of your emotions.  Wait for a better time, with a cooler head, rather than forcing the issue.

  The Best Ways to be Giving Advice:

  • Give advice by being clear about the difference between opinions and facts. When you give advice, you can use both facts and opinions. Either way, let your child know whether your statement is fact or just your opinion based on your wisdom and experience.
  • Give advice by thoroughly listening to them. Don’t just wait for their lips to stop moving so you know when to shower them with your insights. Listen well and repeat back to them what you heard them say. Being a great listener is key to your relationships.  And as your kids get older, they need to know they can just express themselves without getting lectured.
  • Give advice by asking thought-provoking questions instead of making blanket statements. When giving advice, my mom always uses great questions to get me to think, which inspires me to use a sort of “Socratic method” with my kids, even when they were younger.  I like to ask them questions that stimulate their critical thinking and leads them to the conclusion I had in mind in the first place. When they get more active in the discussion and do some thinking as well, they’re more likely to receive your advice.
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Hope for Hurting Parents When Kids Rebel

SOURCE:  Rick Warren

As a pastor, more than other people, I see the hurt and the heartbreak that happens in a family when a child makes rebellious and destructive decisions. And thankfully, there’s a story in the Bible that offers us a lot of insight.

What has often been called “the story of the prodigal son” is really a picture of how God shows his holiness, his goodness, and his kindness to his children — each son in this story was rebellious in his own way. Some of the insights we learn about parenting from this story might surprise you.

The story, found in Luke 15:11-32, unfolds in three stages.

Stage 1: Rebellion.

Beginning in verse 11, “Jesus said, `There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.’”

Stage one is rebellion. In every parent-child relationship, there’s going to be a struggle. It’s a struggle for control, a power struggle.

At birth, as a parent, you are 100 percent in control. But as your child grows, the power gets transferred. Your control is not permanent. Kids want control sooner than we want to give it. They think they deserve it sooner than we’re ready to give it out. Kids have a sin nature. If you don’t believe that “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God,” you’ve never been a parent.

So what do you do when a child is legally independent and you can’t control them anymore?

  1. Let them go.
  2. Let them make their own mistakes.
  3. Let them experience the consequences of their own choices.

There is a price tag for rebellion. Galatians 6:7 says, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows” (NIV).

How do you as a parent feel when your child rebels? Guilty? Embarrassed? We tend to practice a lot of self-condemnation when our children rebel, but you are not the only influence in your child’s life. Your child has choices that he makes. She has friends that she chooses. He has teachers that you don’t control. She has books and movies that she sees. He has all kinds of influences and choices.

Stage 2: Regret.

Back to our story. Verse 17 says, “When he came to his senses…” You might be praying for that sentence in your child’s life. When is my kid going to wake up? When is he going to come to his senses? When is he going to see that he’s ruining his life? You’re praying for that.

“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and I will say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.””

Notice the change in attitude. He goes through a process of re-evaluation, regret, and repentance.

What do you do during this stage, while you’re waiting for your child to come to repent? Three things.

  1. Pray for your child, non-stop.
  2. Commit your child to God’s hands.
  3. Wait patiently.

Stage 3: Return.

Verse 20 says, “So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”

Remember that in this story, this is the ideal father responding. This is God. This is not a typical human being. This is what God would do.

In fact, it is what God does to you in your rebellion. It’s a model for us.

  1. Love them faithfully, stubbornly.
  2. Accept them unconditionally and affectionately. (This doesn’t mean you approve of their actions.)
  3. Forgive them completely.

Verse 22 says, “But the father said to his servants.`Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate!’”

What I like about this father is he didn’t rub it in. He didn’t keep reminding his son, holding it over his head the rest of his life. The father gave him a second chance. He forgave him completely.

This story shows how God deals with our rebellion. That’s the primary purpose of it. We’ve taken matters into our own hands. The Bible says that we’ve all sinned and we’ve all done our own thing. We’ve messed up our lives. But God says, “Come on home!” God gives us another chance.

4 Things I’ve Learned About Parenting Adult Children

SOURCE:  Mark Merrill

Susan and I learned a lot of good things about parenting adult children from our own parents. Looking back, Susan and I agree that they did this very well with us. So we hope that we can build on what they taught us as we move into a season of parenting our five adult children.

Here are a few things we’ve learned about parenting adult children as we are working hard to follow what was modeled for us.

1. Be Involved, but not Intrusive.

There’s a fine line between giving our grown children advice versus giving them orders. And when any of my kids call and ask for my counsel on something, I try to ask them questions that will help them to come to their own conclusions rather than just telling them what to do. I want to be very involved in navigating them through life without them feeling like I’m being intrusive.

2. Be Caring, but not Crowding.

Cell phones, texting, and FaceTime help us stay connected with our children who are in college or working in another city. Susan and I are partial to Face Time because we not only get to hear their voices, but also see their faces. We love to love on them! Even though we’ve got this technology, we know it’s important not to overuse it and crowd our kids. Instead of calling or texting every hour, we try to call when we know they’re out of class or off of work and driving home. And when we do speak, we try avoid asking a million questions about who they’re with, what they’re doing, how late they’ll be out, and where they are. That’s harder for me than Susan! I’m learning to ask general questions like, “How is your day going?” and to be content with however long or short their answer may be.

3. Be Encouraging but not Enabling.

Encouraging and helping our children is really important to us. But it’s sometimes hard to determine when encouraging becomes enabling. There are no formulas that clearly guide us on this issue. For example, when your child graduates from college and gets their own apartment, should you pay the first month’s rent to help them get on their feet? That might be a very nice thing to do. But when paying that first month turns into paying the second and third month, that may be moving into the enabling category absent extenuating circumstances. Of course, being there for them in times of emergencies or times of need is part of being a parent.

4. Be Initiating, but not Isolating.

Soon enough, your kids will move into the next season of their lives, get married, and begin having children of their own. As they find themselves in this time of busyness, be sure not to isolate yourself by only offering to let them come visit you. Initiate time together with them by buying that plane ticket or making that drive down to see your kids and grandkids at their home. Make it easy by coming to where they are and build new memories at times that are convenient for them.

Q&A: How Do I Stop Enabling

SOURCE:  Leslie Vernick

Question: My adult daughter has moved back home after making a mess out of her life. I think I’ve enabled her to be too dependent on me and now she is acting like an angry teenager instead of a responsible adult. What can I do to help her?

Answer: I hear this so often. Well meaning parents have crippled their children by not teaching them how to stand on their own two feet. My definition of a good parent is that you work yourself out of your job. In other words, your kids don’t need you in order to function anymore. With that said, you can’t change your daughter. But you can identify and own your problem.

What is that? You have given too much. You’ve been too nice and that may be one reason she is not taking responsibility for her own life. Unfortunately, this kind of unhealthy relationship fosters a love/hate relationship between you and your child. She loves you and is dependent on you and hates you for always being right and having to “need” you.

To change this dynamic, you will need to figure out why you have been overindulgent with your child for so long. Are you afraid to say no? Are you anxious that if she doesn’t need you, she won’t have a relationship with you? Do you pity her and believe she can’t do it without you? This is an important step so that you don’t revert back to rescuing her when things get hard for her.

Second, you need to evaluate what is in her best interests. I know you love your child but godly love acts in the beloved’s best interests, not just what feels good. I’m sure you didn’t give your child candy for breakfast, lunch and dinner, even if she screamed for it because you know that wasn’t good for her. It is the same principle here. To change things, you will have to say no to her requests for help, not to be mean, but because it is good for her to learn to figure out some things for herself.

Third, you need to let her know how you are changing. I talk about this in section two of my book, The Emotionally Destructive Relationship in detail. But let me give you a sample speak up dialogue that you may want to share with or write to your daughter.

         I love you. You are my child and nothing will ever change my love for you. But I realize now that I haven’t always given you what you needed most. I have given you lots of things, probably too much, but I have not given you the confidence that you can manage your life just fine without me. I fear you have grown too dependent on me to solve your problems, to rescue you from your financial woes, and to provide your living space, when at this age; you should be doing these things on your own.

         I will take responsibility for my part. I now see that by giving in to you, I didn’t help you grow up. I know you are in a tight spot right now and have moved back home but I want you to know that this is only a temporary solution. I expect you to get a job, work hard and save money toward moving out on your own. You will need to pay room and board while you’re here so that you learn that you have to be responsible for your bills and your life.

         I want to have a good relationship with you and we will not have one if I treat you like a child and you behave as one. I want us to respect and care for each other as adults.

If you haven’t done step 1 and 2 first, it will be hard for you to stick with your resolve. Make a plan as to how you will respond when she cries, complains, criticizes you, or doesn’t pay her room and board. Remember, you can’t make her be responsible or mature at this point in her life. That is her job. However, you can create an atmosphere where it is more likely that she will make those choices.

How to Help Your Young Adult Build Their Own Life

SOURCE:  Taken from an article by Carey Casey/Charisma Magazine

You know that fatherhood doesn’t end when a child turns 20, right?

We recently heard from a distraught mom. She and her husband have a son in college who lives at home, and he basically takes the approach that since he’s an “adult” now, he can pretty much do what he wants. And he isn’t doing much, which makes things very tense.

This son is lazy and sloppy and doesn’t show any respect when his dad asks him to help out around the house. Mom and Dad don’t want to upset him or make things worse, so they pretty much put up with it. This mom says she cleans up after her son because she wants her home to be orderly for the rest of the family.

These are such difficult situations because all parents want their children to be happy. But sometimes doing what’s best for them will cause some discomfort and unhappiness, at least for a while. But bottom line, parents can’t let their adult children wreck their households. When they are irresponsible and living at home, it puts strain on everyone. They should not be allowed to act like children when they need to be transitioning to adulthood. If a child in his 20s isn’t forced to take on more responsibility for his own life, there’s no motivation for him to become an independent, self-reliant adult who can handle the “real world.”

If he’s disrespecting his parents along with it, there definitely needs to be a change. He needs some motivation to step up and take on responsibility.

How does that look, exactly? Well, let me warn you: The ideas I have might sound a lot like “tough love,” which can leave a child angry and upset for a time. In some scenarios, he may leave and say he never wants to see you again, and you might not hear from him for weeks. But chances are good that eventually he’ll come around, and maybe even thank you for giving him the “kick” he needed to get going.

Think about birds teaching their young to fly. Often they nudge them out of the nest. And in some cases, that’s how it is with young adult kids.

So how can parents handle this?

One suggestion is to draw up an agreement with your young-adult child in writing. The details depend on the specifics of the situation, but a good general rule comes from the authors of the Love and Logic books. It’s called the “good neighbor policy.”

If a friendly neighbor needed a place to stay for a while, you’d probably help him out. But if he wanted to stay longer, you would likely draw up an agreement. He’d need to obey your house rules and pay something for room and board—on time, each month. Of course, if he didn’t like the rent amount or the rules, he’d be free to find another situation.

If necessary, you would take action to move him out of your home.

That might sound cruel. Maybe you could never imagine doing that to your own child. But that might be exactly what he needs to get his life on track.

Let me quickly add, while pushing, it’s important to communicate in several different ways, “We love you, and we want you to learn to be responsible, independent and content.” That could include encouraging words, regular invitations for home-cooked meals back home and financial help related to the transition itself. For example, you may want to help cover the security deposit on an apartment lease. Or something like a gift certificate to a men’s clothing store for your son to pick out a new interview suit.

Also, understand that even a bird doesn’t do this until the young one is ready. So, not all situations call for the same approach.

But if you’re in this situation, get with your wife and do some research, maybe talk with other parents, and figure out an approach you both believe in. You need to be on the same page and not let any issues with your child come between the two of you.

Adult Children: Refusal To Work

SOURCE:  Living Free

“For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: ‘If a man will not work, he shall not eat.'”   2 Thessalonians 3:10 NIV

If you have chosen to provide a home for your adult child, then it becomes his (or her) responsibility to provide some compensation for you. If he works, he should always pay a reasonable amount of room and board on a monthly basis. You should not provide free living conditions for an adult child who refuses to work. (Read Proverbs 6:6-11.)

God wants each of us to develop a sense of responsibility and to do our part. If you let your adult child take advantage of you, not only do you suffer for it but your child does as well. Allowing him to shirk responsibility enables him to continue living in irresponsible ways.

Of course, there might be special circumstances—perhaps your child is in school fulltime and you have agreed to help for a set period of time. Or he might have health problems. In these and similar types of extenuating circumstances, helping by providing free room and board may be the right thing to do.

It is desirable, if possible, to provide separate living quarters, and even a separate entrance, within your home for your child’s use. You need and have a right to your privacy, and so does he. If this type of arrangement is available, your relationship with your adult child is likely to be much more pleasant.

Father, help us plan these living arrangements in such a way that is pleasing to you. Help my child to grow in a sense of responsibility during this time, rather than decline. Help me to resist the temptation to “baby” my child. I know that is not in our best interests—and is not pleasing to you. In Jesus’ name …


These thoughts were drawn from …

Godly Parenting: Parenting Skills at Each Stage of Growth by N. Elizabeth Holland, M.D.

Adult Children: Setting Boundaries

SOURCE:  Living Free

Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” Deuteronomy 5:16 NIV

Although it is vital for you to respect your adult child in the way you communicate and relate, he will need to adjust his behavior to keep the rules of your home. God has called sons and daughters to honor their parents.

You have every right to set boundaries and require them to be kept. Do not allow an adult child to take over your home, living any way that he pleases, and not assuming specific responsibilities and duties. Boundaries might include not smoking in the home and reasonable limitations for having visitors.

Your child is a grown adult and will make his own sexual decisions. However, it is reasonable for you to continue to enforce the moral code that you have taught him as long as he lives in your home. You should never allow persons of the opposite sex or of homosexual persuasion to spend the night in your home with your child (Deuteronomy 5:18, Hebrews 13:4, Romans 1:26-27).

Expectations should include maintaining a respectful attitude toward you, doing household chores, yard and car maintenance, keeping his area of the home clean and payment of room and board.

In most cases, an adult son or daughter living at home will want to help and will be willing to live by the house rules. However, there are also instances when he or she consistently refuses to keep the rules or to accept any responsibility. What then? It would be entirely reasonable and acceptable for you to ask him or her to move out. In this case, the child would likely try to instill guilt, but a godly parent who has tried in every way to make the living arrangement work should not feel guilty. You may feel sorrow, pain and regret, but do not feel guilty.

Father, give me wisdom in establishing boundaries and expectations while my adult child is living at home. I pray that he will honor me and my wishes and that this time together will be a good time of drawing closer to one another and to you. In Jesus’ name …


These thoughts were drawn from …

Godly Parenting: Parenting Skills at Each Stage of Growth by N. Elizabeth Holland, M.D. 

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