You can let them go now, they’re an adult

As a child, I describe myself as an “old soul.” Someone who acted older than her age. Growing up with a deaf parent I had to “grow up” really fast. I didn’t have the typically childhood of those of my peers being that I had to be the one who helped my mom handle business affairs. But when I enter adulthood there were times, I grieved the loss of my childhood. No longer could I snuggle up in my bed and my mom give me medicine when I was sick. So much of my life’s toughest decisions I faced alone.

The world can be a cruel place. Friends forsake us, people who we think we can count on turn their backs. Your adult children should know that you are the one place where they can find acceptance. This doesn’t mean we have to agree with our children’s choices; however, we do have to accept their choices because whether we agree or not it’s theirs to make. This also doesn’t mean we can’t express our feelings and opinions about their choices. But the reality is once they are eighteen their choices and consequently their mistakes are apart from ours. We can’t take on our children’s choices as an indictment on us. We must understand that our child is a grown up. Unlike, when they were kids, we can’t wipe the tears, kiss the boo boos and make it all better.

Unlike acceptance, approval is different. Google describes approval as the belief that someone or something is good or acceptable. Approval means you accept your child not their choices. After Jesus’s baptism, God publicly approved him (Matthew 3:17). I can imagine the joy Jesus must have felt hearing His Father affirming who He is. How much more would an adult child take joy in their parent approving who they are. Even if the child has made some mistakes, they still need to hear their parent say they are loved and receive their approval.

So often in relationships we base love on the feelings we feel at the time. Yet, love is an act of the will and a choice, not simply a feeling. A parent must choose to love their child despite their actions.

There can be times that you respond that is alarmingly like your nature and nurture. Or a well-meant advice that prompted anger and distance. Most of us have said something we instantly regret. But some parents are unable to recognize their “well intended” advice is seen as overbear ace and wondering why their child is keeping a distance. I know as parents we feel,” I’m their parent who else is going to love them enough to tell them the truth.” “At least they know it’s coming from a place of love.” But the reaction you get is either anger or they just stop listening.

Your love for your adult children and the pain of not wanting to see them make mistakes or face disappointments can inspire you to intervene. Speaking without listening to the Holy Spirit about when to speak, when to hold your peace can build barriers between you and them. What may make perfect sense to you can seem insensitive and outrageous to them and come across as a lack of respect for their independence or competence.

The best ways I have learned and am learning with how to communicate with my adult child is first think before I speak. What will the words I want to speak accomplish? Do you want to be helpful or do you just seek to hold on to the power in your relationship? Even though you feel like you are still a parent so what you say should still hold weight, being completely candid isn’t always the best way to help. Listen first then speak. The dynamics of your relationship has changed. You are now more in the role of a coach. Let go of being the person that always provided for them. When your child was little and dependent you were the center of their world. But your child grew up—just as he or she was meant to and now things have shifted. So many conflicts can be avoided when we remember this reality, we must understand that things have changed.

Intruding in their lives you might find yourselves being unasked for advice. Instead of feeling bemoaned that your child has time that they can no longer give due to their new role, have a front row seat cheering your son and daughter on. Giving advice is all in your approach. Instead of screaming DON’T DO IT!!!! Build on your child’s ideas instead of command of action from your point of view. And sometimes, the wisest thing to is keep quiet.

My advice to other mothers who is the mother of an adult son. “Shut up and pray!” I know you can’t help but worry and want to intervene in all things that concerns them. But its best to step back and let God do what He wants to do in their lives. They have to make their own mistakes and find their own way—just as you did!

To mend any verbal transgression, apologize. For offering unsolicited advice or “telling the truth” that created offense. Sometimes you need to just say, “I’m sorry!” It’s important that your child knows you are willing to admit when you’re wrong. Even if you feel you are right, remember God doesn’t violate their free will and neither should you!

I hope this helps someone. Thanks for reading!

Feel free to share your thoughts on this topic.

Published by: Kim Petitt

As a person living with a disability challenge is part of my life. I struggled with my identity and I recognize that I still have insecurities to face, but that doesn't mean I can't walk in everything God has purposed me to walk in despite my insecurities. Because of the nature of my condition and physical disability, God's grace is evident in my life everyday and I find strength in the word of God that says in Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through him who gives me power". (CJB).

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18 thoughts on “You can let them go now, they’re an adult”

  1. I’m going through this stage now. My daughter graduated from college in May and will be 23 next month. She is out on her own now. I can’t tell her what to do. God told me to just love her and pray for her. It’s tough, especially when they are no longer choosing Christ. But God says to trust Him even when we don’t understand. That’s what’s I’m learning to do. Thanks Kim.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad this could help Dawn. I can relate, my son is twenty. The pain of seeing your adult child leave the Faith is disheartening. You many feel as though there is nothing you can do to lead them back now they are no longer over your covering. But it’s never too late! No matter what has happened in their relationship with Christ and with you, healing and reconciliation are possible.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you! They have to know Jesus for themselves. Once they’ve been trained, that’s all a parent can do (Other than to keep praying). The Holy Spirit will do the rest.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I wish the title of the post is “Shut up and Pray, they are adults now”
    I see parents trying to control their adult children in the name of caring. They end up building up resistance and become control freaks. I love that you emphasized the difference between acceptance and approval.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “Shut up and Pray” lol, now that’s an attention grabber.

      I am learning the best way to give advice to your adult child is to find out what they want and offer your advice on how to do it or why it would be wise not to do it, then leave it up to them to decide.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you Kim for these sound advice. I have saved this post for future reference. Right now I am in the stage of trying to just shut up and pray for them. I am trying to release my son and allow God to do His mighty work in his life. God bless you. I appreciate these words.

    Liked by 1 person

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