An Invitation to Keep the Welcome Mat Out and Your Mouth Shut

As some of you may know I have just finished a book on “parenting adult children.” This is a two-part blog (this week and next) that focuses on the issues of adult children. Although I think the principles work for all ages.

Parenting Advice with an Older Child in Mind: Part One

An Invitation to Keep the Welcome Mat Out and Your Mouth Shut

Something wakes me up. I look at the clock and it is 2:30 a.m. I then discover what, or rather who, disturbed my sleep. It’s my wife, Cathy. She is just lying there next to me with her eyes wide open.  

“What’s up?” I ask. “You okay?”

“Yes, I’m okay,” she says. “I was just thinking about Becca.” (or Christy or Heidi)

“Is she okay?” I ask.

“I guess so,” Cathy replies. “I just don’t know.”

I give her hand a reassuring pat. “Is there anything I can do for you?”

“No,” she says, “just go back to sleep.”

Most parents I’ve talked to tell me they lost sleep worrying about their kids when the kids were younger, but it’s surprised me to discover how many parents of adult children tell me the same thing. I often hear statements like these:

“My son’s choices are breaking my heart.”

“I feel like I don’t know what my role as her parent is anymore.”

“He needs to get a job!”

“Every time I give my daughter some heartfelt advice, she bites my head off.”

“I’m still in shock that he doesn’t go to church anymore.”

“Where did I go wrong?”

Can you relate? If so, know that you are far from alone. Here is a prayer that has helped me through our times with our adult kids.

God, I relinquish my children to your care and watchfulness. Give me the courage to “let go” as they move—sometimes ever so slowly—toward responsible adulthood. Grant me discernment to know when to carefully intervene, and the restraint to do so only when absolutely necessary. I acknowledge that this is one of the hardest transitions I have ever had to make, and that I need your guidance and insight. In all things, help me to love my children as you love them—lavishly and with grace. Amen.

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Jim Burns

Jim Burns is the president of HomeWord. He speaks to thousands of people around the world each year. He has close to 2 million resources in print in 20 languages. He primarily writes and speaks on the values of HomeWord, which are: Strong Marriages, Confident Parents, Empowered Kids, and Healthy Leaders. Some of his most popular books are: Confident Parenting, The Purity Code, Creating an Intimate Marriage, Closer, and Doing Life with Your Adult Children. Jim and his wife, Cathy, live in Southern California and have three grown daughters, Christy, Rebecca, and Heidi; three sons-in-law, Steve and Matt, and Andy; and three grandchildren, James, Charlotte and Huxley.

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