Parenting Your Adult Children – Oh Baby, You’re No Baby Anymore

adult children


By Sandye Linnetz

I have found that the best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they want, and advise them to do it.  ~Harry Truman

I’m a mom. I’ve been a mother for over 40 years now, and based on history (mine – as a child and as a parent) I have developed some rules that, although they may require some in depth conversation, all work for me… most of the time. So, until such time as they work only a little bit of the time, I’ll keep following them. It’s interesting to me that so many of the ‘rules’ on my list are the same rules I live by in other relationships.

For your consideration, here they are – my rules for dealing with my adult children (or at least the ones that I am currently using):

  • Keep your advice to yourself unless it’s requested.
  • When you do give an opinion, identify it as an opinion, not a fact.
  • Always let them know how much you love them.
  • Be very interested – be marginally involved. Whose life is it, anyway?
  • Remind them (frequently, almost to the point of nagging) that you’re available.
  • The child in each of us wants to be acknowledged… be their #1 cheerleader.
  • Show up.
  • Keep your word.
  • Be free with your use of the ‘attaboy’, ‘you go girl’ and ‘YAY you.
  • If they don’t call and you want to talk, you call… honoring their privacy if they request it.
  • Get over yourself and don’t take things personally – it’s their life.
  • Did I mention don’t take it personally?
  • When there’s an issue, discuss it ASAP… no festering.
  • Share everything except your .
  • Learn from your children – and thank them sharing.
  • You taught them how to use the toilet (and I’ll bet that’s come in handy a time or two) so be willing to ask them to teach you what you need.
  • Be clear and straight when talking and generous when listening.
  • Their adult life and decisions may feel like a reflection of you… they are not.
  • When you absolutely MUST share your brilliance, do it gently and without judgment.
  • Set clear boundaries and discuss them.
  • When you give money to your children it is never a loan.
  • Recognize that your children may not have turned out exactly as you imagined – and that’s okay.
  • You may not ‘like’ everything about your children – and that’s okay.
  • Your children may not ‘like’ everything about you – and that’s okay.
  • Emotional support goes both ways… give it and accept it.
  • Love your children AND yourself. You can’t be there for them if you don’t take care of YOU!

Okay, that’s a good start. I constantly remind myself that sometimes (not all the time) we humans learn more from our ‘mistakes’ than we do from our successes. We made ours. This is their time. Let them make their own. Just be there if they want to talk about it. And remember… it’s their time, their life and, hey think of a tree…

Maybe you planted a sapling and watered it and nurtured it – maybe pruned it and even cured its diseases. You probably had ‘professionals’ groom and trim it. You sat under it, picnicked near it, danced around it. Now it’s all grown. There’s not much more to do except love it.

NOTE: Yes, this blog is a happy, skippy blog (hey, I’m a happy, skippy kinda gal) and you may be going through something HEAVY. Let’s talk about it and see if any of these ‘rules’ can guide you.