7 Things Adult Children Want Their Parents to Know

7 Things Adult Children  Want Their Parents to Know

Pulling away, exerting their independence, and keeping us at arm’s length are some of the ways adult children communicate their need to find their own way in the world. When this happens, many of us wonder what we've done wrong instead of remembering what we’ve done right.

While it’s not always easy to accept, adult children need to make a break from dependence on their parents and move into a life of healthy independence. Even though it can be an uncomfortable season, it’s not necessarily a bad season. 

Most adult children want their parents to know that they still love and value them, but they need some time and space to figure things out.

Here are 7 more things adult children want their parents to know.

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  • mom being comforted by adult son, empty nester

    1. “Doing Things Differently Doesn’t Mean I’m Doing Them Wrong"

    Most adult kids continue to seek approval from their parents, and when they decide to do things differently, they might feel judged or criticized. They want us to know that even though they do things differently, it doesn’t mean they’re doing them wrong.

    We might not understand why our kids do things the way they do, but if they aren’t hurting themselves or others, or going against God’s Word, they are probably choosing different methods of living life—and that’s okay.

    Here are some ways you might notice a difference:

    • The way they spend their money
    • The life goals they set
    • How they manage their finances
    • How they run their household
    • When and where they attend church

    Parents will likely cringe at some of the things their adult children do, but it would be better to view things with an open mind and little flexibility, and remember the different doesn’t necessarily equal wrong.

    Again, unless your child is doing something harmful, or compromising God’s standards, it would be best to recognize that their different way of doing things is probably okay. Your job, as the parent, is to be supportive and encouraging while remaining true to God’s Word.

    The Bible says, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:2-3

    Our adult children need us to bear with them in love, approach things with humility, offer kindness and gentleness, and be patient with how they do things. In fact, we might even learn a thing or two along the way!

    Here’s another resource for navigating your adult children’s differences:

    Q&A: How to support your adult child without condoning their choices

    Boundaries With Family

    Related: Listen to Our FREE New Parenting Podcast! Christian Parent/Crazy World with Catherine Segars is now available on LifeAudio.com. You Can Listen to the First Episode Now:

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  • adult daughter hugging mother looking serious and forgiving, prayer for resolving conflict with adult children

    2. “I’m Willing to Make Mistakes and Learn from Them”

    As parents, we often try to prevent our kids from making mistakes. We do this out of love for them, not wanting them to go through painful experiences.

    However, adult children want us to know they will make many mistakes in life, but they are willing to deal with the consequences. They don’t want us stepping in to fix things or prevent things from happening. They are adults, and they are ready to learn as they go.

    This is a great lesson for all of us, as life is full of mistakes and failures. Our Heavenly Father has given us direction in how we should live, and as Christians, we desire to follow His commands. However, we will continue to make mistakes and hopefully learn from them. Our adult children are no different. They’re willing to face whatever consequences come, learn from them, and move on.

    The Bible says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

    It’s important for us to emphasize that God is faithful and just to forgive us when we go astray. When we confess our mistakes, we know we are cleansed by God and ready to move forward in His righteousness.

    Try to let your adult children make mistakes without stepping in to prevent them or fix them. This is how they will grow, learn, and move forward in life—hopefully in relationship with the Lord and in His provision.

    More resources to help you let your adult children learn from their mistakes:

    6 Steps to Stop Yourself from Enabling Grown Children

    When Helping Hurts: Are You an Enabling Parent?

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  • prayer for parent

    3. “I Need to Find My Own Way”

    When our kids are little, we love to imagine they’ll grow up to do great things, be successful, and follow the path we set for them. But in reality, all children will eventually need to find their own way in life. They need to be the ones to choose their career path, to determine what kind of life they want to live, and to make the decision to follow Christ.

    Author C.S. Lewis wrote, Hardship often prepares an ordinary person for an extraordinary destiny.” Adult children want us to know that even if their path looks different than what we imagined, they are on a personal journey—with God and others—and they need to find their own way—no matter how difficult.

    This doesn’t mean we can’t contribute to their growth or pour into them as God leads. But we can’t live their lives for them or make them go the way we think they should go.

    The Bible says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

    It might take some years of trial and error, but our hope should rest in God’s principle that our children will come back to how they were raised and find the path God has marked out for them.

    More resources to help you accept that your adult child needs to find their own way:

    What to Do When Your Adult Child Is Messing Up

    4 Things You Can Do for Your Adult Children Who Dont Believe in God

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  • asian adult daughter caring for senior dad Fathers Day

    4. “I’ll Come to You When Needed"

    Waiting for our adult children to come to us for advice isn’t easy, but more often than not, it’s the best thing to do. After all, we want them to be in a place where they’re willing to hear what we have to say and hopefully put our advice into practice.

    Adult children want us to know that when the time is right, they’ll come to us. We don’t need to force our opinions, ideas, and advice on them. They’ll come to us for wisdom and counsel when they are ready. It might be for something as simple as how to change a furnace filter, or, something much more serious like “Is this the right person I should marry?” But whatever the need, they will come to us when they decide it’s time. 

    In contrast, if we are always interfering, offering advice when unwarranted, and getting involved where we shouldn’t, our children will likely avoid us. Instead, they’ll turn to others who are less invasive.

    The Bible says, “Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.” Proverbs 19:20

    If our adult children aren’t ready to listen or accept instruction, it will be fruitless for us to impose it on them. But when they need us, we can be ready and willing to give them wise counsel and let them know we’re there for them.

    Here are more resources to help you navigate when to offer advice:

    Four Guidelines to Help You Keep a Strong Relationship with Your Adult Children

    Distance In Relationship With Grown Child

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  • dad and adult sons hugging Fathers Day

    5. “I Remember More Than You Think”

    As kids grow up and begin to make their own way in the world, it might seem as though they’ve forgotten everything we’ve taught them. This can be terribly discouraging for parents who wonder if they made a difference at all. They begin to question themselves:

    Did I do enough?

    Did I teach them the right things?

    Was I a lazy parent?

    How did I fail them?

    If these thoughts have circled your mind, be encouraged today. Our adult children remember more than we think—including the things we taught them about God.

    Rest assured that in the Lord’s time, He will bring to remembrance the things our kids need most. He won’t give up on them, and your efforts to raise them in the training and admonition of the Lord will not have been in vain.

    The Bible says, One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.” Psalm 145:4

    If you were faithful to pass on your beliefs about God, the power of His Word, and standards of Christian living, be assured that the Lord will remind your adult children of those things when needed. Our God is wonderful about filling in the gaps where we’ve failed. After all, His grace is sufficient for us and His power is made perfect in our weaknesses. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

    Adult children want us to know that they remember more than we think. They haven’t forgotten everything we’ve taught them, and they value the practical and Spiritual lessons we’ve invested in them.

    More encouraging resources for parents of adult children:

    Leaning on God as Your Children Transition into Adulthood

    Parenting Adult Children

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  • adult child with senior mom hugging

    6. “I Have Valuable Things to Teach You”

    Recently, when our adult son and his wife agreed to join us for an informal Bible study, I thought we would be the ones to impart our wisdom and insight to them. However, much to our surprise, we learned valuable things from them—things we didn’t know before!

    Both young and old are used by God to speak life and truth at various times. Our adult children want us to know that they have valuable insight and wisdom to share. In many cases, the roles are reversed as children age, and parents find there’s a wealth of information to be learned from the younger generation.

    The Bible says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17

    This principle applies to people of all ages and stages, and we, as parents, would be wise to listen to our sons and daughters as they share their experiences, knowledge, and understanding. In fact, there’s something wonderful about realizing your adult children are starting to teach you!

    The key is to be humble enough to accept that you can learn from your adult children. It takes an open mind and willingness to listen more than you speak, love more than you judge, and learn more than you teach.

    This falls in line with how Paul encouraged young Timothy: “Dont let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity. Until I get there, focus on reading the Scriptures to the church, encouraging the believers, and teaching them.” 1 Timothy 4:12-13 NLT

    Here’s another resource on how to learn from your adult children:

    4 Life-Giving Lessons Your Adult Children Can Teach You

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  • happy senior mature dad hugging prodigal adult son

    7. “I Need Your Encouragement More Than Anything”

    No matter what kind of relationship you have with your adult children, encouragement is something they need more than anything. This doesn’t mean you gloss over issues or problems, but it does mean you address them from a heart of love and encouragement.

    Dr. Gary Chapman encourages parents to relate to their kids by assuring them and asking important questions such as: “We're here for you. We want to help you. What are your desires? What are your needs? What are your goals? How can we help you get there?”

    When our adult children know we have their best in mind, they’ll be assured they can come to us for anything. They’ll know they have a listening ear, an understanding heart, and lots of encouragement for the journey.

    The Bible says, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Hebrews 10: 24-25

    Encouragement goes a long way, especially for adult kids who might feel insecure or uncertain about the future. Even simple statements can make a world of difference such as:

    “It’s going to be alright.”

    “No matter what, I’m here to listen and pray.”

    “God’s got this. He’s got you.”

    Let encouragement be the driving factor in your relationship. Be that parent who faithfully has their child’s back and is ready to impart wisdom and guidance when needed.

    More resources for encouraging your adult child:

    Blessing and Releasing Your Adult Child

    10 Ways Your Adult Children Need Your Encouragement

    10 Mighty Prayers for Your Adult Children

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    Jennifer WaddleJennifer Waddle is the author of several books, including Prayer WORRIER: Turning Every Worry into Powerful Prayerand is a regular contributor for LifeWay, Crosswalk, Abide, and Christians Care International. Jennifer’s online ministry is EncouragementMama.com where you can find her books and sign up for her weekly post, Discouragement Doesnt Win. She resides with her family near the foothills of the Rocky Mountains—her favorite place on earth.