“When children become adults, the relationship between parents and children changes. In healthy
But, time marches on and those sweet little voices have been replaced by grown up voices with grown up opinions and responsibilities which creates a shift in the power aspect of our relationships, which at times can be a little bit of a growing pain.
I’m not an expert in this new phase, not by any stretch of the imagination, but there are a few things I have learned that I would like to share with you.
Parents can be wrong and should admit when they are wrong.
This has been of huge importance at our home. I used to use the phrase, “I’m the parent and you’re the child, that’s why.” Have you ever heard Heavenly Father use this phrase? I’m not a scholar of the scriptures, but I cannot think of a time when He has said that phrase. Unlike our perfect Father in Heaven, I am not a perfect parent and I get things wrong sometimes. One of the best lessons I feel I can teach my children is to know when you are wrong and admit it. Humility is essential in our progression towards perfection and it goes a long way in this world when you can say, “I’m sorry. I was wrong.”
“Parents still have the right to set household rules concerning appropriate behavior in their house, but they no longer have the right or responsibility to tell their adult children what to do” (Miller 2008, 2).
I had a goal when my son came home from his mission. That goal was to treat him like the “20-year old adult who has been living on his own for the past two years” that he is. As much as I would have liked to coddle him, make sure he wears his coat when going outside, and all the other things that mothers of little kids do, I knew that I couldn’t. It would not have been healthy for our relationship and again, if I am striving to learn how to parent as my Heavenly Parents do, this would not have helped me along that journey.
Be there when you are needed and show an increase of love.
Being a young adult is tough and just because your child has entered this new phase, does not mean that he/she does not need your support any longer. There are lots of ways you can continue to show your love and support to them through their young adult years. I found a great article in the Ensign magazine that offers 10 tips for parents of young adults.
5. Trust them with their decisions. “This doesn’t mean believing that they will always make perfect choices. It means trusting that they can be resilient, that God is forgiving, and that life can be deeply meaningful even when it includes overcoming failure or enduring trials. Young children can be scarred by trauma, but young adults grow from overcoming obstacles rather than avoiding them. Provide emotional and practical support, encourage breaks from the stress, pray with and for them, and inject a little humor.”
6. Praise them for their efforts. Who doesn’t like to receive a little recognition for their effort? Failure is a part of life but can be discouraging. Praise your child for their efforts and love them through painful failures.
7. Seek for inspiration. I could not live without the Holy Ghost. He has guided me so many times in so many situations.
8. Talk about money. Don’t assume that your child knows how to create and manage a budget, or use credit cards, or any other financial concepts. Talk openly with them. See if they have questions. Show them what has worked for you and then support them as they figure out what works for them.
9. Be humble. This goes back to my very first observation…admit when you are wrong and own it.
10. Measure true success. “When we focus too much on how others will judge us for our children’s choices (either for good or bad), we lose objectivity, and we often lose the Spirit. Remember that our success as parents is not defined by how well our children live our values but by how consistently and selflessly we live them.”
Truth be told…I am excited for this phase of life. I know that parenting adult children brings with it heartache, worry, sorrow, and pain as things happen in their lives that you can’t control. It’s hard to watch your children be in pain or sorrow.
But, I also know that parenting adult children can bring with it joy, celebration, and love as you watch them grow into the people that Heavenly Father wants them to be. I look forward to the new adventures this phase of parenting will bring and pray that the Lord will help me be the best mother I can be in every phase.
Richard B. Miller, “Who Is the Boss? Power Relationships in Families.” BYU Conference on Family Life, Brigham Young University, March 28, 2009.
Ulrich, Wendy, "Ten Tips for Parents of Young Adults." Ensign, July 2014.
WHY ETERNAL FAMILIES?
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