Rules for Parenting Adult Children

Just when I thought I had the whole teenager, high school, driving test thing down to a science, Big Girl and Baby Girl became adults. I have made some grievous mistakes in the last few years, which is by far the greatest teacher.  I also have managed to find a mentor or two, talk to some  young adults who speak God’s wisdom into my life and while I am a work in progress and most days feel like it’s one step forward, two steps back, there are a few things I am learning.  I give you some basic rules for parenting adult children…… ( Disclaimer these too are works in progress and are subject to change if I find they no longer apply beyond my present season)

1. Stop with the repeating…..Your new role is now advisor not director.  When you told your child your opinion on credit cards, their selection ( or in some cases non selection) of a life’s career, their decision to go or not go to church or their own parenting style for your grandchildren they heard you. Loud and Clear. They do not want or need you to repeat that information every time you see them or talk to them on the phone.  You get one shot and that is right after they ask you for your opinion.  After your 10 seconds of sharing is over so is your opinion. I promise they know how you feel. They didn’t forget.   The only thing they need to hear repeated from your lips is ‘I love you.” Say it often. They are never too old to hear.

2.Gift giving without strings attached.  A down payment or co-signing or even an allowance carries strings that get tangled and knotted and can sometimes choke a relationship.  A gift is just that. A gift. I give it and it’s yours. Do what you want with it. If you use money or privileges to manipulate your adult child to do certain things you are bribing them. Don’t do it. If you feel like being generous then give freely. If your adult child makes a disaster of your attempts to help them, stop helping. You don’t owe them anything anymore.

3.Ignorance can be bliss.  I want to be involved in my adult children’s lives. I want them to text me or call me and let me know how they are doing. I want to experience the joy of seeing them grow and mature. I’m not overly anxious to see them act like idiots as part of that maturation process.  Excuse me if  I did not see their picture on Facebook or instagram. Sometimes ignorance is bliss. If I no longer can take their car keys, or cell phone or banish them to their room for two weeks as punishment, I don’t really want to know about their shenanigans.   Whatever you are looking for, you will find. I opt out of following their every move via social media because honestly, it’s better for my mental health.

4. Pray for them. Every single day. Because really, who else will pray for them like you can?  God has the inner circle, you don’t. He can read their minds, orchestrate circumstances and love them so much more than you. Praying reminds you of that.

5. Hugs and kisses are at your discretion.  As a mother who carried them inside of yourself for nine months and then in a herculean effort, pushed them out into this world, you maintain the right to hug and kiss them whenever you want to…… in the middle of Walmart, in front of their significant others, EVERY SINGLE TIME they enter your door you get to hold them tight and kiss their sweet faces. It’s nonnegotiable.

6. Enjoy your life. You have paid your dues– ballgames, piano recitals sleepovers, ear infections. Now is the time to relinquish your Mama badge and do what you want to do.  The Mister chuckles when I get the Friday night text demanding, ” Where are y’all?” His response is always the same….” Having the time of my life with your Mama!”


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