Someone said that once you’re a parent, you’re always a parent, and I agree. When our children married and left home, we thought our parenting days were over. But we learned that when our kids become adults, what happens is that our role as parents merely changes. We no longer bear the financial responsibility for them, nor the legal responsibility. But few are the parents who want to totally divorce themselves from their adult kids—nor should they.
Instead, our role changes to that of close friends. You want to stay vitally connected to your kids to encourage them. You’ll often fill the role of a counselor as well. But it’s wise to wait until they ask for your advice. Oh, yes, at times you’ll find it extremely hard to keep your mouth shut–you may have to bite your tongue until it bleeds. But unsolicited advice is usually unwanted advice and often builds a wall instead of bridge in your relationship.
A couple of times when I have felt deeply about an issue, I have said something like this: “You know that I don’t usually interfere, but I feel really strongly about something, and I feel I must talk to you about it. I’m only going to say it once, and I promise you I will never bring up the subject again.” Then I share my concern. And I have kept my end of the promise never to speak of it again, whether they took my advice or not.
Many areas of responsibility we should let go of, such as being our kids’ conscience, being too inquisitive about personal matters, or being too quick to bail them out of financial problems. Remember that they also have a heavenly Parent—God, their heavenly Father, who will come to their aid. Instead of meddling, point them to Hebrews 4:16, that says, “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
How about you? What is the biggest challenge you face with your adult children?