Being parents to your adult children
We did it. We raised three humans and launched them into the world. (Whew!) All three of our children are now married to incredible people. From our perspective we have added three more kids to the fold through marriage. Each is growing in their relationship with Jesus. Each is succeeding in their chosen career.
As you anticipate being an empty nester–or maybe you’re there already–how can you provide ongoing spiritual influence? Too often we hear parents seemingly give up any influence on their children saying, “What can I do? They’re adults now.” Yes, they are adults AND you are still their parents. As a parent you always have a measure of influence on your childrens’ lives, especially spiritually.
Here are three ways you can spiritually parent your adult children toward greater godliness:
1. Pray for and with them
Throughout this four-part series, “Raising Godly Kids,” we’ve emphasized the role of prayer at every stage of parenting. Why? Because we believe prayer is the most important thing you can do for your children. There is a spiritual war being waged against our families. Satan is doing all he can to infiltrate your childrens’ thinking and surround them with influences to draw them away from a life that is intimate with Christ and honors him.
Make daily prayer for your adult children a priority. Ask them for their top prayer requests. Not only does this give you an opportunity to impact them where they sense a felt need, it also reinforces in their lives the spiritual value of prayer and your modeling it.
Pray with your adult children when they share something they are struggling with in life: a relationship, work, health, finances, etc. How many adults today can only wish their parents would pray with them? Just ask them, “May I pray about it right now with you?” And then offer up a prayer for them. Even though we are now grandparents, we still cherish when our parents, in their 80’s, offer to pray with us!
2. Believe in them
You are your kids’ biggest cheerleaders! When all the world seems to be against them, you can be the ones who are standing with them. You can do this by:
Reminding them of who they are in Christ. Tell them that they are loved by Jesus. That he sees what they are facing and is walking with them. Point them to James 1:5 that promises that “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”
Encouraging them with what God can do in and through them. There are so many “I can’t do it” experiences in life. As a parent, you can remind them of times you’ve felt the same way. Share with them Philippians 4:13 that says, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Recount the many times in the Bible God did what seemed to be impossible. He can make a way in their life as well. Even if things don’t turn out as they hoped, he is with them and will give them the strength to persevere.
Sending them texts and voicemails periodically to let them know how thankful you are for them. You’re proud of them. Specifically mention a couple character qualities you respect in them.
Giving them hope for the future because God is in control. Their hope and confidence doesn’t come from the things of this world, but from the Rock in whom they have placed their confidence. Jesus taught about this in Matthew 7:24-27.
3. Be available for them
We want to have an “open door” and “always welcome” policy for our children and their spouses. They can call, text, or travel to us any time.
But what if a child is living a lifestyle you don’t approve? You are their parent and can share your concerns with them. It doesn’t have to be a regular topic of conversation, but we do believe it’s important for your own integrity, and for their sake, for the two of you to share your concerns about the path they are on. However that doesn’t mean excluding them from your life. They need to know your unconditional love for them. Keep the door open, the communication flowing, and the invitations to come home consistent.
Parenting through the different ages and stages of a child’s life takes unity of purpose as a couple. Your mutual efforts as a team to raise godly kids will be the greatest gift you can give your family. And as you raise godly kids, you will also build your marriage.