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Intersection of Life and Faith

9 Steps to Grow a Healthy Relationship with Adult Children

  • Pam Kanaly Co-founder, Arise Ministries
9 Steps to Grow a Healthy Relationship with Adult Children

Motherhood. For nine months you carry your child in your tummy. With every thought and body change reminding you that your life is about to be forever different, you anticipate the greatest odyssey known to mankind—raising another human being.

After birth, you pass through the cuddle stage, and then the toddler stage, which demands your every moment. You soon progress into the preschool years, the middle school saga, and finally the graduation launch. For nine months and 6,570 days, your entire life has been consumed with thoughts of their well-being, growth and maturity. Then BAM! They leave the nest and your role forever changes.

How does a mom go from being needed to not being needed? How does she thrive in a role that’s unchartered? And better yet, how can she relearn the way she’s always performed motherhood? It’s hard! Yet never before has she needed God’s guidance more. Redefining the boundaries and her newfound identity demands adjusting her mindset.

My children are now in their mid-30s and have their own children, and I’m still learning a few parenting lessons. Some have been easy and some a challenge, but I’m gloriously certain that God will faithfully lead me through an entire lifetime of mothering well if I’ll keep my antennas up and seek His advice.

So how can we foster great relationships with our adult children? Here are nine ways to consider.

Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/Kikovic

  • 1. Nurture what lies in our control and forget the rest.

    As moms, we’d do ourselves a favor if we’d let go of what we can’t fix, change, or reverse. That’s God’s job. This is when it becomes a tremendous blessing to do what we can do and leave the results with God. 


    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/diego-cervo

  • 2. Take responsibility for our power of influence.

    Though our time with children under the roof may be over, our influence is not. We can seek God’s counsel in how to be “wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove.” (Matt. 10:16) Our attitude, words, and behavior make a difference for a lifetime. 


    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/zdenkam

  • 3. Create a positive environment.

    This requires a climate where we let our children make their own choices and likewise, handle the consequences. We respect their independence and listen more than we speak. Restraint is now the elusive virtue required, where we are careful not to give too much unwelcomed advice or ask too many unsolicited questions.


    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/BananaStock

  • 4. Consider the child's feelings over our own needs.

    Some mothers find themselves needing the child to reaffirm their own worth. When we expect our children to fill our empty void, we create a chasm and set up resentfulness that is not the child’s baggage to carry. If Christ doesn’t fill our emptiness, we’re in trouble at the core of our very soul.


    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/Kikovic

  • 5. Recognize and respect the differences.

    Remember, you raised distinct individuals not duplicates of you. Celebrate your children’s strengths and let go of expectations where they don’t fit into your mold. God created them uniquely, and with His plan in mind. Always extend unconditional love. And above all, don’t be critical.


    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/monkeybusinessimages

  • 6. Be quick to admit your mistakes.

    If you’re a perfect mom, then this advice will not apply to you. And if you are that perfect mom, I can assure you your kids don’t think so. We all make mistakes, yet nothing erases their hurt more than us being willing to humble ourselves and ask for forgiveness. 


    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/flyparade

  • 7. Accept who your child marries.

    But what if you don’t approve of that person? The quickest way to lose an adult child’s favor is to reject the one they married. It’s their choice, their life. Let them live it. Your role is to be a supporter, sound board of advice if they ask, and silent prayer warrior. They will have enough marriage difficulties without you being one of them.


    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/VilliersSteyn

  • 8. Never give up when discouraged.

    Disappointment in our lives is not so much about the other person or circumstance as it is about what God wants to do in us. It drives us to need the Father above our own comfort. It’s good to remember that only with God is true restoration possible. We always have hope. Mark 10:27 tells us, “With God all things are possible.”


    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/Todd Warnock

  • 9. Pray without ceasing.

    Prayer. It’s the greatest navigation tool we possess. To pray without ceasing is to know that even though we are not consciously speaking to God, we have a deep, abiding dependence on Him that is woven into the very essence of our faith. And though our children might go their own way, they are defenseless against our prayers. 


    Pam Kanaly, selected as National Mother of Achievement – 2015 - in Washington, DC, and best-selling author of The Single Mom and Her Rollercoaster Emotions, remains one of the nation’s leading advocates for single mothers. She is the co-founder of the national organization Arise Ministries bringing encouragement to single mothers worldwide through their online education center: EQUIP. Pam is a favorite in Oklahoma having been nominated by the Governor for Oklahoma Mother Making a Difference. Pam and her husband Rich reside in Edmond, Oklahoma. Visit and download the FREE Arise Ministries app.

    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/kjekol