We are finding ourselves in the next season of life where we have adult children. The best advice I can give you as you relate to your adult children is to remember that they are still young.
Our adult children need much grace and time to grow as they learn to maneuver through the next season of life the Lord has them in. They are still growing and maturing. There will be many mistakes, and as a parent, we need to be patient as the Lord continues to mold them.
This post is a work in progress being lived out in my life on a daily basis. My husband and I are still learning how to properly interact with our married daughter and her husband. Our roles have shifted from being the main authority and source of advice for our daughter, to now taking a step back because that is her husband’s role. Let me share with you some lessons we have learned along the way.
Leave and Cleave
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”
Amber is my only daughter, and we had, and still have, a very close relationship. Her husband is Norwegian and lived in Norway at the time they were married. The day after the wedding he whisked her away to Norway, and the next time we saw her was on Skype. It was a hard trial, and I spent many days in tears just missing her and her presence in our home. After two and a half years in Norway their family is here in the states now, twenty minutes away from us, and I am crying as I am writing this remembering how painful that time was.
Many times issues in marriage arise because the newly married couple does not leave and cleave. Amber and Ruben only had each other in Norway. His family was a 14 hour drive away, and we were not exactly around the corner. They quickly learned what it meant to leave and cleave and become one flesh.
I am not saying that every married couple needs to leave the town they are in and live a distance away from their family, but learning to give them space to become dependent on one another is very important.
Even with the distance, we have to be cautious of emotional attachments. I found us having to work through the closeness we had as a family emotionally so Amber could properly relate to her husband. Take the time to give them the freedom they need as a newly married couple. Let them be the main initiators in calling and coming to visit during that first year of marriage. They need time to become their own family unit.
The Lord is faithful and He knew what was best for Amber and Ruben. I can look back and give thanks for the distance and separation knowing that God did work all things together for good.
Learning to Communicate
This is a new season for the whole family, and you now have an additional member that you are just getting to know well…so proper communication is important. We are going to mess up. Very simply put, this transitional period can be awkward at times. You are going to say things you shouldn’t say and do things you shouldn’t do. Issues will arise and the only way to work through them is to talk about them.
They are adults and need to be treated as adults. We have been their source of guidance and advice for their whole lives, and now we need to avoid giving advice until we are asked. Our hope is that if they have been raised up in the Word, they will remember what the book of Proverbs teaches: seeking wisdom from others is a characteristic of a wise person. They must have a teachable spirit and realize they may not always agree with what guidance we have to give, but they need to seek wisdom from those who are a little further down the road.
They will have to make their own choices as adults, and there may be consequences for those choices, but we need to let them learn from them. Remembering that they now have a spouse to seek for guidance first is important. If your child is coming to you for advice, direct them to their spouse to get their input.
Loving their Spouse
Now we take on that dreaded role of “in-law.” I love being a mother-in-law and have enjoyed getting to know my son-in-law and building a relationship with him. My husband has really taken the time to learn all about Ruben. I am thankful they have such a good relationship. They encourage each other spiritually and in their roles as husbands and fathers.
Seek out your child’s guidance on how to properly love their spouse. They know their spouses better than we do, and they desire us to love their spouses well.
Pray that your children would offer you much grace, since you have never been an in-law, and it is new water you are treading in. Our children are always seeking us for answers, and they may forget that we don’t have all the answers. Remind them that this “in-law” thing is new to you, and you are still learning.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth.
Our children our going to grow up and leave the nest, and this is our goal. To send those arrows into battle. They are going to do the Lord’s work for His Kingdom, and we desire them to accomplish His purposes. That is our goal as parents.
It is not always easy, but it is necessary and good. We are leaving a legacy for the next generation.
The goal of parenting is to work yourself out of a job. The goal of parenting is to send young adults out into the world who are prepared to live as God’s children and as salt and light in a corrupt and broken world.
Paul David Tripp
We don’t know the future. I don’t know what the Lord has in store for my children and grandchildren. There may be trying times and difficult seasons ahead.
I do know that I can look to the future without fear, knowing that the One who does hold the future in His hands is with me always. The grace and knowledge of my Lord Jesus Christ gives me confidence to be at peace in this new season of life and enjoy the blessings.
The best thing we can do for our adult children is to pray for them. Pray that they seek first His Kingdom, pray that they love the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind and strength, and pray that they will always remain teachable and seek guidance and help when they need it from their earthly parents too.
In the midst of an ever-changing world, the good news is that the life of faith is anchored by the power, provisions, and promises of God. Circumstances may change, but the future is as sure as the character of God Himself. No matter what happens, those who trust in God hope in His word.