How to Parent Adults

Jan 29, 2014 by




Now that we are empty-nesters, we have a new challenge – parenting adult children – all in different stages of life. Our oldest daughter is married with a new baby. (Did we mention we are grandparents?!!! Adelyn Ruth has taken over our hearts. But I digress.) Our son is married with no children and our youngest, our daughter, is a sophomore in college.  How we relate to each is very different based on their stage of life, experience, and personality.

But with all three one thing remains the same – respecting them as adults.

One thing that has been the most difficult is to change our parenting paradigm from instructor to mentor. For 18 years we told them what needed to be done, trained them to do it, then critiqued their attempts. If they stepped out of line or made poor decisions, we corrected them.

Now that doesn’t mean we are entirely hands off. Fortunately, they still ask us our opinion and are grateful for the questions we ask them to stretch them in their thinking and life choices.

But now, we need to see them as their own complete entity – separate from us. That’s difficult for many reasons:

  • We were such a huge part of their every day life.
  • As their guardians, we were responsible for everything they did.
  • They respected and obeyed our decisions (or at least tolerated them) because they lived under our roof and our authority.
  • We had young people whose minds were still being molded.
  • We were their greatest influencer.

Jim and I are so thankful for the children we have and the relationship we have with them. They are amazing adults and so much fun to be around. But our tongues are getting shorter and shorter as we bite them to stop ourselves from offering our opinion.

So how can you parent adult children?

  1. Respect (and support as much as possible) their decisions.
  2. Be available and interested in their lives without smothering.
  3. Gently offer your help if it is needed. But then remain humble and loving if your offer is not accepted.
  4. Wait for them to ask for your opinion.
  5. Let them be their own person.
  6. Pray for  them every day.

Adult children are just the best. All you have to do is stand on your own two feet without them by your side and watch them flourish while  you continue to grow in your own right. This is what you raised them for. Enjoy the season.

What have you learned about parenting adults? What is your greatest challenge and your greatest joy in relating to adult children?



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