My kids do grownup things. They have jobs. They have husbands. One already has a child.
Why would they need their mama now?
My parents have been gone for nine years. I still wish they were here. We would always like to have good parents with us, yes?
Yet as adults, we don’t need our parents in the same way that we needed them when we were children. That’s where it gets sticky.
I read lots of books on child-rearing when my girls were small. I wanted to do things the best way, the right way, God’s way.
As they grew older, the books I read changed. No longer about parenting babies, but about parenting elementary kids. Then about teenagers.
But now that the last one has graduated from high school and college and married, do I still need a parenting book?
Parenting Adult Children
Actually, the years of parenting adult children will likely surpass the number of years we parented small children. It’s just very different. It has to be from a distance. And loose. And non-judgmental.
Jim Burns new book, Doing Life with Your Adult Children, is a helpful resource for these years. (His subtitle is profound: Keep Your Mouth Shut and the Welcome Mat Out.)
Here are the nine principles Burns shares in the book. Is there one you need the most?
- Your role as the parent must change.
- Unsolicited advice is usually taken as criticism.
- You can’t ignore your child’s culture.
- They will never know how far the town is if you carry them on your back.
- Your job is to move them from dependence to independence.
- You can’t want it more than they want it.
- Financial independence and responsibility is the goal.
- Wear beige and keep your mouth shut.
- Being a grandparent may be your greatest legacy.
This book is full of wisdom, some of which I’ve already learned (often the hard way, such as, don’t argue about holidays), and some of which I’ve yet to experience.
My daughters don’t need me like they did when they were younger, but I can still play an important role in their lives, and they in mine.
I want to do this stage of parenting well, too.
Quotes from Doing Life with Your Adult Children
“Most parents I’ve talked with have told me they lost sleep worrying about their kids when the kids were younger, but I’ve been surprised to discover how many parents of adult children tell me the same thing.”
“It’s important to acknowledge your old job description as a parent so that you can set it aside. That’s the only way to make room for your new job description.”
“This transition of moving from daily involvement and hands-on parenting to a more intermittent involvement will likely be an easier move for your kids than it is for you.”
“There is absolutely nothing more important in life than a right relationship with God and a right relationship with family. Ultimately, that’s what defines the legacy you leave your children.”
“Many parents of adult children tell me that the most difficult part of their new job description is abstaining from giving advice when they know they’re correct.”
“Trust that experience is a better teacher than advice….If we keep our mouths shut and keep the welcome mat out, we increase the odds that our children will come to us for guidance on their own.”
“Parents who continue to take care of their adult sons and daughters out of their own need to be needed do so at the expense of their adult children’s maturity.”
“Your child’s choices don’t have to break you. Your child’s regrettable decisions do not make you a bad parent. Even good parents have children who make poor choices.”
I highly recommend this book to parents of adult children. This line from it makes me laugh the most: “The first forty years of parenting are always the hardest.”
My adult children are worth it all.
* * *
Are you parenting an adult child? Has anything been difficult? Surprising? Do you have a favorite parenting book? Please share in the comments.
My thanks to BookLook Bloggers
for the review copy of this book
(and to Beth for the real thing!)
- 7 Books I Recommend – May 2019
- On the Blog – May 2019