With Valentine’s Day approaching this month, I was wondering which area of love to discuss. Then reflecting upon some recent conversations, I thought it good to write a blog on loving your adult children. Like any other season in life, it has its blessings and bloopers. Yet, I personally would like to say the blessings outweigh any challenges you may face.
I have spent many years being intentional about maintaining healthy relationships with my adult children. Although some adult children may be instructed otherwise, it is always good to maintain a loving relationship between parents and children. I am not encouraging codependency when I say that. Noah’s adult sons benefited from his protection (Gen. 6:18–22). Judah attempted to spare his elderly father Jacob from heartbreak (Gen. 44:19–34). Jesus made provision for the care of His mother while He hung on the cross (John 19:26, 27). Regardless of age, parents and children should still care for and about each other.
In the parable of the prodigal (Luke 15:11-32) we see a pattern for healthy relationships among parent and child adults. The father acknowledged the independence of both sons (even with the rebellion of the younger). He allowed both to make their own decisions and to bear the consequences for their decisions. Brokenheartedly, he did not force them to do what he knew was best for them. In the midst of this, he provided unconditional love to each of them. When the prodigal son returned after the consequences of his decision, the father did not say, “I told you so.” Instead, he showed unconditional love. To the older son, he let him also decide whether to participate in the celebration of his younger brother. He made an appeal to him, but let him live with his consequences too, while all the time affirming his love for him as well. The love in your heart automatically demands that you protect them from everything. Yet, the love in your heart must let them go to learn how to navigate life on their own; and it can be very painful at times.
The loving connection between parent and child should not be broken because of age, distance, interests, misunderstandings, desires, etc. Although it changes in function, each should strive to maintain a healthy relationship that will endure for a lifetime until one departs to be with the Lord. We understand now that we were given a limited number of years to impact and pour spiritually into them. Yet, our living example should be evermore powerful to impact and inspire them as adults. We don’t want it to be said of them as it states in Judges 2:10, “After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the LORD or remember the mighty things he had done for Israel.” May it not be so with us and our children. It is never too late to humble yourself, pray, submit to God and His Word, and patiently wait on Him to move in the lives of your loved ones. I have seen His faithfulness in my family, and I know He will do the same for you. “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)
What are some things to be mindful of when loving your adult children? Remember, they are in a different world of constant comparison, social media pressure, crippling college debt, gender confusion in dating, and a different type of peer pressure than what we experienced. Ask God to help you:
There is so much more that can be said, but pray without ceasing and trust God to give you the wisdom that you need for your son or daughter. Everyone’s children are different. You cannot go by what your neighbor does. If mental health is an issue, do not be too proud to get the help all of you need. Learning to pause for a moment before speaking does wonders. Helping them to transition into independence before they leave home is mandatory if you want to maintain a loving relationship with your adult children. If loving your adult children is important to you, do not forget to express your love not just on Valentine’s Day, but often. Always confirm your love for them.
Most of all when I think of love, I think of our compassionate God who gave His all to express and demonstrate His love for us. If you do not know Him or have a personal relationship with Him, please click here to learn more. Blessings to you.