Parenting Adult Children
January 23, 2020
Updated June 25, 2020
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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.
Seven Suggestions for Parenting Adult Children. A pastor describes how prevalent problems between parents and their adult children have become and offers seven suggestions for building and maintaining good relationships.
Parenting Adult Children: Are You a Good Friend to Your Adult Kids? This article from AARP offers five important tips for relating to adult children.
Failure to Launch: Six Steps to Help Your Adult Child Move Out. Sometimes, for one reason or another, adult children move back home. This article describes those reasons and also lays out the importance of helping adult children take the next step or determining boundaries until that next step is possible.
Setting Boundaries with Adult Children. In this article from Family Fire, Kathy Konrath lays out a helpful system for setting boundaries with adult children.
Creating Boundaries with Your Adult Child. Jeffrey Bernstein discusses why it’s so important not to make a habit of rescuing adult children.
Stop Enabling Your Addicted Child. This article describes how to help an addicted adult child without enabling him or her to continue in the path of addiction.
Leaving the Church
When Kids Stop Walking with God. Louis Tamminga talks about the very painful reality of adult children leaving the faith, what parents can do, and what the church can do to support them.
Six Reasons Young Christians Leave Church. This article from the Barna Group suggests six distinct themes common to young people who choose to leave the church.
What to Do When Your Children Leave the Faith. David Mills talks about the importance of living an authentic Christian life as a witness to our adult children who have left the faith.
The Real Reason Kids Abandon the Faith. This discussion among Christian adults about why their kids have left the faith is a great conversation starter for groups who would like to discuss this topic together.
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.
What to Do When Your Child Says, “I’m Gay.” This article offers some good advice for parents who are looking for ways to respond when their child or young adult announces he/she is gay. You’ll find more guidelines in How Should I Respond If My Child Comes Out to Me?
Caring for People Who Are LGBTQ. Janet Greidanus tells of a group of Christians who met recently in Alberta to discuss how to better show care for people who do not identify as heterosexuals. Conversations around tables revealed that many people are beginning to see hopeful signs that the church is moving from judgment to empathy.
FOR THOUGHT OR DISCUSSION
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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