Your adult children are no longer children, but that doesn’t mean you stop being a parent. So how do parents nurture their adult children while encouraging their independence?
As our kids have all grown up, they’ve moved out of the house or maybe moved back in, there are different ground rules that apply. Pastor and counselor Ronald Greer distinguishes the differences between caring for our adult children vs. taking care of them.
“We can care for them and again, the definition of that is, care for them in ways they cannot yet care for themselves, that’s healthy, we want to be in the reserves there for them.”
“Taking care of them is doing for them what they can do or have the capacity to learn to do for themselves. This is not healthy because taking care of an adult son or daughter enables dependency, and it discourages the very thing that we highlight as one of our goals to successful parenting, it discourages maturity and growth.”
Are there some common mistakes that parents make in caring for their children?
“Almost without exception there are very well-intentioned mistakes. It’s out of our desire to be loving, but where we lose focus is on how to translate that; how we can most successfully be loving for them.”
He addresses important questions we need to ask ourselves as we transition our parenting style from childhood adolescence into their adulthood.
• How can we would be supportive, yet not intrusive?
• How we are hopeful, yet not pushy?
• Are we caring, but not enable dependency?”
As lifelong parents, we also need to be prepared for the times when our adult children reach out to us. Ronald shares a few examples,
“We’re going to get those calls periodically and thank goodness they call us when they need us. These are the times they are asking us for advice; it may be for help in some other kind of way, some guidance, it may be monetary help to help them over a crisis they did not see coming.”
By caring for our adult children rather than taking care of them, we’ll be able to encourage their independence and still maintain our role as a parent.
“Caring for our adult children is doing for them what they can’t do for themselves; it’s healthy, it’s loving and it’s being there for them whenever they need us. We are off active duty status but we’re in the reserves.”
Ronald’s book is Now That They Are Grown.