Let them experience the consequences of their mistakes. Realize that your adult children need to suffer the consequences of the wrong choices they make to understand how to make better ones. If you try to rescue them from consequences, you may be preventing God's work in their lives that could help them mature.

Help them learn to be financially responsible. Teach your adult kids the value of hard work, and refrain from giving them what they can earn on their own. Never lend them money or cosign a loan for them. Help them discover, develop, and use their talents so they can find good jobs. Show them how to budget their money wisely.

Build positive relationships with your in-laws and grandchildren. Do all you can to develop good relationships with your adult children's spouses and children. Be as involved in their lives as they invite you to be, but respect their boundaries and don't try to control their choices. Avoid conflicts and work to enjoy your time together.

Interact with humility. Ask God to give you the humility you need to relate to your adult children by: speaking little and listening a lot, communicating clearly instead of expecting them to read your mind, respect their individuality, admitting your own mistakes and asking their forgiveness, forgiving them when they make mistakes, being kind to each other, and enjoying each other's company by sharing fun activities together.

Love them unconditionally. Just as God never stops loving you no matter what you may do, keep expressing love to your adult kids even when they're living in ways that grieve you. Remember that you can powerfully communicate the Gospel to them simply by giving them unconditional love, since that models the love that God has for all of His children through Jesus Christ.

January 12, 2011

Adapted from You Never Stop Being a Parent: Thriving in Relationship with Your Adult Children, copyright 2010 by Jim Newheiser and Elyse Fitzpatrick. Published by P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, NJ, www.prpbooks.com.  

Dr. Jim Newheiser is a pastor at Grace Bible Church, in Escondido, California, and he also serves as director of counseling for the Institute for Biblical Counseling and Discipleship (IBCD) and Fellow of the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors (NANC). He holds M.A. and D.Min. degrees from Westminster Theological Seminary in California. He is also author of Opening up Proverbs and When Good Kids Make Bad Choices (co-authored with Elyse Fitzpatrick). Jim and his wife, Caroline, are the parents of three adult sons.  

Elyse Fitzpatrick counsels with the Institute for Biblical Counseling and Discipleship. She holds a certificate in biblical counseling from IBCD and an M.A. in Biblical Counseling from Trinity Theological Seminary, and she is a member of the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors. Elyse is the author of 11 books, including When Good Kids Make Bad Choices (co-authored with Jim Newheiser), Afternoon of Life and A Steadfast Heart. She and her husband, Phil, are parents of three adult children and live in California.