Ages 18-21:These are the Best of Times, These are the Worst of Times

Friday, September 3, 2010

Parenting your adult children, ages 18-21:  It could be described as, “These are the best of times, these are the worst of times.”

At age 18, society declares our children are adults. At 18, our military will hand our children a gun and give them the responsibility of defending our country.  However, parents of adult children have a different understanding of what it means to be an adult.  Parents believe that being an adult means you are able to support yourself and provide food, clothing, housing, and have a job that allows you to do all those things.  In our society very few 18 year olds are self-sufficient.  The only thing our 18-year-old children need from us is our money. They do NOT need our advice or opinions and they definitely do not need our lectures.

We have a standard in our home called A.R.P., which stands for “Advice Requires Permission”.  If at any time I offer advice without my children giving me permission to do so, they are able to hold me accountable just by saying the word ARP.  In this season of our lives, we as parents have to learn to hold our tongues. This cannot be done by using our own power. We must rely on the power of the Holy Spirit and faith. THE OPPOSITE OF FAITH IS FEAR. The reason we try so hard to control our children is because we are driven by fear. Many times the fear is rooted in mistakes that we made when we were their age.

When our children are younger we have a high level of control.  We basically make all the decisions for our children.  We decide when they get up, what they eat, where they go, who they hang out with.  Many times the best parents during ages birth – 15, make the worst parents during ages 16-21, because they have been so vigilant to make sure little Johnny got everything right. When it’s time for little Johnny to start making his own decisions, they are paralyzed with fear that little Johnny will make some major mistakes that will mess up the rest of his life.  One of the hardest things about being a parent is watching someone you love so much go through the treacherous roads of life, knowing you can’t possibly protect them from everything. I guess it’s in those times that all we can do is remember they don’t really belong to us, they are just on loan. All we can do is love them and pray for them.  For better or for worse, our children are going to have to live with the choices that they make, as we have had to live with the choices we have made.

Don’t be a Gnat in God’s Face

As we pray for God to deal with our children, when our children begin to suffer we will step in and rescue them.  If you are praying for God to deal with your son or daughter, it’s so important that you allow your child to suffer the pain that will bring them back to God.  As my children were growing up I use to say to them often, “YOU CAN LEARN BY LISTENING OUR YOU CAN LEARN BY PAIN.”  Some kids choose to learn by pain. Another truth I would live by is: “When the face hits the pavement the ears pop open.”   This is true in marriage as well. C.S. Lewis put it this way: “Pain and Suffering are the microphone to a deaf ear.” So if God chooses to use pain in order to get my child’s attention, I don’t want to be that irritating gnat that God has to swat out of the way in order to answer my prayers for my children.

Don’t Abandon Your Child in Their Rebellion:

I am a Baby Boomer so I grew up during the time when parents were taught the “tough love” mentality when dealing with rebellious teenagers. I watched as my parents kicked my siblings out of the house. It did not work or promote positive change in my siblings. I’m not saying that approach never works, but please do not be so quick to resort to that tactic. Unless there is domestic violence, this approach is not something that I would recommend. Don’t abandon your rebellious teenager. I would rather have my child make their mistakes while living under my roof where we can still have some influence on them when THEY ASK for it.

Except from Stormie Omartian’s book: “Praying For Your Adult Children”

“When you throw them out they can get into a lot of trouble. They can become more vulnerable to evil influences because they are afraid or desperate. You must have the mind of God about this. You have to be certain that throwing your adult child out of your house is what God wants you to do. In some cases it may well be, but it can’t be a decision born of human emotions, such as anger. Remember, you have released your adult child into God’s hands. That doesn’t mean you have given up on him or her. You’re not saying, “You take him, God. I can’t deal with him anymore.” Or, “That’s it, Lord. I’ve had it. She’s all Yours now.” It means you have surrendered the burden you have been carrying for your adult child to the Lord so He can take it off of your shoulders. Then the burden you carry is in prayer.  Today’s cultural environment will chew our adult children up and spit them out if they are not strong enough to recognize the destructive, dark, and powerful forces that are in it and be able to resist them. No matter how horrible our own background might have been, we weren’t confronted with the outpouring of evil they are facing today. It is becoming so dangerous that even our adult children cannot successfully withstand it on their own. They need the power of the Holy Spirit, and they need our prayers to help them understand how He moves in power on their behalf. If you have an adult child who has grieved or worried you, or caused problems for himself (herself) or for you or others, ask God to pour out His Spirit on him (her) right now. Don’t waste time blaming yourself, the other parent, or your child. I am not saying your adult children don’t bear any responsibility for what happens in their lives. They certainly do. But the overriding factor is that only an outpouring of the Holy Spirit of God on your adult children is powerful enough to withstand the onslaught of the spirit of evil coming against them. Asking God to pour out His Spirit upon your adult children is a simple prayer with powerful ramifications, both for you and for them.”

This blog has gotten longer than I had anticipated, so tomorrow I will blog on “Relinquish Control or Die”. Consider this the introduction to tomorrow’s blog. I have heard from several of you on Facebook that you want me to blog on marriage as well as some of my fun ideas. I will get to that eventually, I promise.

Forever Cheering you on,



About Professional Parenting

Wife, mother, motivational speaker, author, counselor and teacher. I have 3 adult children and a husband of 27 years. For the past 13 years I have served the youth and their parents at Liberty Church in Marietta Georgia. I loved everything about being a mom: I loved the terrible twos, and the terrifying teens, and the cake in my hair, and the spilled punch. I loved the chaos, the noise, the craziness of tons of kids. It was everything I wanted in my life. I loved that constant overwhelming feeling of someone being completely dependent on me as well as that joyful, aweful feeling of watching that same someone just 18 years later leave me and go off in the world on their own. Interests: * Christian * wife * mom * child training * pre-teens * teenagers * youth group * young girls * young women * seasoned sisters Favorite Books: * "Praying for Your Adult Children" By: Stormie Omartian * "Life on the Edge" By Dr. Dobson (Note: This was required reading for my kids when they turned 13.)
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