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This article is part of The Third Third of Life Toolkit—a collection of resources for ministry to and with people ages 55 and over, brought to you by two ministries of the Christian Reformed Church in North America: Disability Concerns and Faith Formation Ministries.

As most parents eventually discover, parenting doesn’t end when your child turns 18, graduates from college, or gets married. Parenting is a forever job. Relating to adult children often includes close friendships and celebrations. But issues arise too, some of them painful. The resources on this page will help adults in the third third of life navigate the new waters of parenting their adult children. 

General Resources

Healthy Boundaries

Leaving the Church

Life Choices

  • What to Do When Your Adult Child Messes Up. Jim Burns offers some helpful guidance for parents who are agonizing over the poor life choices one of their children is making. Burns reminds us that ultimately our children are in God’s hands and there is always hope for redemption and change.

  • Mom, We’re Living Together. Virginia Miller Lettinga describes the growing trend in our culture of unmarried couples living together—as common among Christians as unbelievers. She notes that most of these couples expect neither relevant advice nor grace from the church, and she challenges us to respond in more effective and compassionate ways.

Sexual Identity


  • If you are the parent of adult children, which of these articles did you find especially helpful? How might they affect your relationship with your children”? How might sharing your experiences help other parents in your church?

  • If you are a church leader, what ideas have you gleaned for ministering to third-thirders in your pews when their children leave the faith or follow values that conflict with those of the parents? How can your church become more of a supportive and compassionate community of people who truly listen?


If you’re part of the Christian Reformed Church in North America and you have questions about how to strengthen your church’s ministry to and with people in the third third of life, one of Faith Formation Ministries’ Regional Catalyzers would love to talk with you about ideas and strategies! 

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