Letting Go of Adult Kids

Kim Sullivan

August 29, 2016

In a few months I will be putting my daughter on a plane to China. For. One. Whole. Year.

One whole year of missed holidays. One whole year of two-women-in-a-kitchen arguments averted. One whole year of lost hugs and quick pecks on the cheek. A whole year.

And worse yet, she expects to make a habit of this travel thing. So how do I let go in the wake of her tidal wave of giddy expectation? After all, this is the girl who it seems that just yesterday couldn’t cross the street without holding my hand. How do I prepare her for being as far away as she possibly can be?

Remember My Past Prayers

I have been praying for years that I would be the kind of parent who would let go when the time was right. The kind of parent who could rejoice at God-given opportunities rather than one who selfishly clings and clutches, begs and whines for her children to stay close.

I have been praying for God to open and shut doors. Now it’s time to trust that he has heard those prayers. After all, like Hannah with Samuel, I gave my children for his service many years ago. I do not possess my children. They do belong to him for his purpose.

Don’t Assume I Know It All

As your children begin to make decisions on their own, before you give unsolicited advice, ask them what they know about a situation. You might be pleasantly surprised! Many times your emerging adult children have done ample research and know a lot more about the subject that you may have expected.

Even if you do have lingering concerns, be careful how you express them. Use phrases like, “Have you considered…?” Try to stick to discussing facts rather than your emotions. If you're overly emotional, your observations will be passed off as hysterics rather than sound wisdom.

Leave the Rest to God

After stating my thoughts about the matter, it is now my job to trust God. We are commanded to “trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). This means that we stop worrying about all of the details and we leave God in charge of sorting out all of the details.

Pray Without Ceasing

I am confident that this passage of Scripture is about to come alive to me in new ways! God can do in a moment what I cannot in a lifetime. Therefore, prayers will be offered both for my daughter and for myself as I allow God to show me how to rely upon him in a new and deeper way.

Usually I wish I lived in a different and simpler era. I love history and can romanticize any time period as better than this one. However, in this case, I am very grateful to be living now in this time. I am grateful for Skype, Facetime, and other ways to communicate instantly and at great distance. It doesn’t replace a hug, but it sure does beat a letter full of antiquated news!

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. The word “training” suggests an upcoming event. We are to train up a child, preparing them for going out and practicing all that they have learned. This is an exciting time for both you and your soon-to-be-an-adult child! Embrace the new season and enjoy it for what it is.

About the author — Kim Sullivan

Kim Sullivan is a writer with a background in everything from homeschooling to nonprofit management. She has raised three children each of whom are successful in their own unique way. Recently, Kim has done the most radical and risky thing she has ever done…she moved 700 miles from her suburban Chicago home and everything familiar to her and relocated to Tulsa, Oklahoma. She is working on a brand-new website and blogs at Journey to Epiphany. She is also writing a book about her adventures in following Jesus.

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