This advice for parents of adults will help you get out of “parent mode” and into “friend mode.” Of course, you will always be your child’s parent, but the relationship definitely shifts once they hit adulthood.
This stage is nothing to fear if you view it as a new, exciting chapter with lots of possibilities. In this post, learn DOs and DON’Ts of this life stage so you can navigate it smoothly.
Advice for parents of adult children seems unnecessary. They are your children, after all, and the relationship will always be that, right? WRONG. A very wise woman once told me, “When your children were little you could just eat them up. When they become teenagers, you wish you had.”
I am here to tell you that the third stage—adulthood—is one reason why you don’t want to eat your teenager! They do grow out of the rebellious teen years and actually become interesting people. But we have to let them.
In this day and time, “parenting” adult children is not actually parenting. It is discovering that your child is an adult.
There are a lot of terms for parents today: helicopter, lawnmower, bulldozer, etc. The parenting adult children phase actually starts before they are adults.
Helicopter parents hover and are constantly making sure that their children are protected. So much so, that they can’t handle it when things go wrong. Their parents never let anything go wrong!
Bulldozer and lawnmower parents are always there to smooth the path in front of their children. So when these young people become adults, they truly have no coping skills and must continue to rely on mom and dad.
These types of parents have NOT done their job! Their one job as parents was to prepare their children to leave and to be able to live and rely on their own abilities. Sadly, they failed at this.
Advice for Parents of Adults: DOs and DON’Ts
As someone who has been on both ends of the spectrum, I can give you some “Do’s and Don’ts” of parenting your adult children.
DO: Communicate with your adult children like they are adults.
DON’T: Say things that you would not say to a friend (Have you gained weight? How can you live like this? I told you so! etc.).
DO: Trust your children to make wise decisions. If you have been there guiding them and teaching them, then they are prepared to make those decisions.
DON’T: Give advice unless asked for it!
DO: Have a sense of humor. Inside family stories are the best. Recently, my son told me that he mentioned an inside family joke to some friends at church, but then he realized no one else understood it. That is what makes a family!
DON’T: Provoke your children to wrath! Ephesians 6:4 is still relevant, no matter the age of your child.
DO: Treat them with respect. They are adults. Enjoy your time with them as adults.
DON’T: Treat them like a child!
DO: Enjoy your time with them! Make memories with them and make the time spent with them happy ones!
DO: Love them for who they are and rejoice in the adult friend you now have!
If you are able to evolve your relationship from parent to friend of your child, then everyone will be the better for it, especially when the grandchildren come along.
Which, by the way, is something else you don’t want to ask – “When are you going to give me a grandchild?”
For more mature parenting inspiration, check out this post “If I Could Go Back 20 Years” via Come Fill Your Cup.
Comment below: Do you have any advice for parents of adults to add to this list?
Donna McCurry regularly teaches classes for children and ladies at Deerfoot Church of Christ in Birmingham, Alabama. She is married to Skip McCurry, an elder at Deerfoot. They have two children: Nia McCurry Johnson, a professor at Samford University, and William McCurry, a police officer in St. Petersburg, Florida. She is a grandmother to two of the most beautiful baby boys in the world, along with being a part-time accountant and fulltime volunteer with church and PTA.