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 FaceTime 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.
What other advice would you give regarding parenting adult children? Please share your thoughts or experiences in a comment below.