Respecting Our Children

Jun 20, 2013 by

adult children

So a few months ago I wrote about Jim and I becoming second-time honeymooners. Some call it empty-nesters, but I don’t like that phrase. Sounds dried up and boring and we are not that. We’ve really enjoyed our 9 months with just the two of us – going by just our schedules, eating what we like, picking up at a moment’s notice to go do something together without consulting children’s schedules. It has been very fun.

But we are now in a temporary hiatus from our second honeymoon. First, our youngest returned home from college for the summer. Now, this last weekend, our son and his wife moved in with us for a year as they prepare to go to the mission field in Europe. Yes, we now have 3 adult children living in our home and are experiencing a new adventure.

I was thinking it may be too early to be writing about this since we are in the honeymoon phase of this new stage (pun intended.) But there is one overriding principle the I have already figured out and thought would benefit parents of adult children, as well as, in all relationships.


Now Aretha Franklin may have brought the concept to the forefront in the late 60s – at least the proper spelling of the word – but respect has been a virtue of societal living for all time. It seems, however, that it has lost some of its importance today. Everyone seems to have their fingers in everyone else’s business. I wonder if the advent of Facebook, Instagram, and the other social media sites has made everyone feel like they have a right to “comment” on every part of people’s lives whether they have publicly shared it or not. But a certain sense of privacy and personal space has been lost.

As a mother, while my children were growing up, they had no personal space to speak of. We treated our children respectfully, but their lives needed to be an open book so we could keep tabs on what they were doing. Their computers and cell phones were open access to us so we could see who they were talking to, what they were talking about, and what they were viewing on the Internet. We monitored their TV shows and the movies they watched. We even monitored what friends they hung out with. That was our job to help them make good decisions and be influenced by the right people.

But now they are adults.

Our role as parents has changed. I no longer have the responsibility to nose my way  into their private life. They have earned a right to have their own life and to live how they want and with the people they want. I must now completely respect their choices. I may not always agree with them, but I have to give them respect in allowing them to make their own decisions.

So now I am biting my tongue. When they are texting or talking on the phone, I don’t ask, “Who are you talking to?” When they are making plans to go out, I don’t ask, “Where are you going and when will you be home?” (Okay, maybe that one I do ask so I don’t worry about them.) But I’m not asking to tell them not to do something or to give them a time to be home. That is their decision.

Am I still curious about their life? Yes. Do they still share with me most of what they are up to? Yes. But on their terms and their timetable. You see, we put all that work in all those years poking our noses into our children’s lives so we could raise them for such a time as this – to be responsible adults who make wise decisions.  We’re still here for guidance if they want it. But I want our adult children to be able to say that their parents respect their privacy and their decision-making.

How are you doing in showing your children respect at whatever stage in life they are at?


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