Christian Parenting of Adult Children

Christopher Hunt

June 13, 2024

One of the first things my wife and I discovered when our oldest child grew up was that we were not done parenting him. As our second child also grew up, we continued parenting her too. They both left home at 18 years old, and not quite with the gentle taking of wing that my wife and I had wished for them. Yet, now, they’re both busy and quite independent young adults. While our job as their parents is not done, it has changed.

We no longer provide for their daily needs, but remain a ready support in the challenges of the day…often at short notice. We no longer give direction but supply helpful wisdom and advice when they ask. They decide where they will go in the world and what they will do, but we are here to remind them where they come from. They hold their relationships with God in their own hands, but we will continue to pray that God fills their lives abundantly with his presence and power. And just now, we have a third child stepping into adulthood. We’re certainly not done parenting him either. But our roles will certainly change.

As long as we live, we have a responsibility as parents to our children to encourage and support them in their independence as adults. Every family’s story is different. The Family Fire articles shared below provide insight and assurance to Christian parents of adult children looking for answers to common challenges from letting go to helping them let go.

Letting Go of Adult Kids, by Kim Sullivan -- As you prepare your children for God’s plans for their adult lives, he will be faithful to guide you into a peace that passes understanding as well. How do we embrace the new season and enjoy it for what it is?

Relinquishing Control of Adult Children, by Dr. Robert Ritzema -- When children are young, we pray for them, protect them, and prepare them for the future. The time comes when we must let go. Now we must learn to pray the prayer of relinquishment for our adult children.

Accepting Adult Kids, Being Adult Kids, by Rev. Deb Koster -- Everyone desires to be loved unconditionally. Even adult children making poor choices want to know that they are loved and accepted by their parents. How do we as parents show appropriate affirmation?

Parenting Adult Children: Lessons from King Lear, by Dr. Robert Ritzema -- Many resources exist to help us parent children and teens, but where can we find guidance on parenting adults? Here's one suggestion: Shakespeare’s King Lear. Lear's errors teach us a good deal about how not to parent adults effectively.

Help Your Children Gain Independence, by Dr. Robert Ritzema -- What should parents do when faced with an overly- (or even hostile-) dependent adult child? It's important to recognize the ploys being used to elicit assistance, limit the amount of help provided, and encourage self-sufficiency.

When an Adult Child is Mentally Ill: Handling Feelings, by Dr. Robert Ritzema -- Responding to an adult child who has a mental illness includes not only knowing how to interact with them but also how to handle our own reactions. Let’s explore a number of strategies to facilitate coping with these emotional reactions.

Grieving Unfulfilled Expectations for a Child, by Dr. Robert Ritzema -- We tend to steer our children in the direction of our expectations, but children don't always follow the path we hope for them. Our unfulfilled hopes can produce negative emotions and prompt resentment in us and our children.

About the author — Christopher Hunt

Christopher Hunt is the marketing communications manager for ReFrame Ministries, the parent ministry of Family Fire.

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