Challenging believers in Jesus to think and act based on Bible truth.

On My Mind #61: Three Thoughts for Adult Parent/Child Relationships

Disclaimer: If any of my family are reading this, this is not about you!

With that out of the way, I’m going to write three quick thoughts on a topic I hear a lot about and it’s something that been on my mind.  Many adults genuinely wonder how to honor their parents when they have families of their own.  So, let me flesh out three of the most important things that I think go along with this.

1. Adult children: have clear boundaries.

Adult children seeking to respect their parents should have clear boundaries.  I heard a preacher once tell a story of how he came to realize that he was his wife’s primary caretaker. There was, needless to say, a difficult adjustment period, but this had NOT been made clear in the engagement/wedding process.  His wife’s parents needed to take a back seat to him spiritually and authoritatively as the caretaker of their daughter, and he told them they would not be able to make progress in their relationships until they were willing to respect his role.  Things eventually worked out, but it should be a good illustration about why clear boundaries are necessary.  This issue can raise its head with parenting styles, financial decisions, spiritual values, etc.  Having clear boundaries and lovingly communicating those to family helps build a framework that can produce life-long, healthy relationships.

2. It’s okay to let your parents help – to a point.

I think many parents of adult children are genuinely looking for ways to support their adult children.  As long as it’s not manipulative, grown children shouldn’t be afraid to simply say a gracious “thanks” and accept small help.  This could take the form of small gifts, offers to help with the kids, etc.  It’s been my experience that most parents are really not (emphasis on most) trying to manipulate or control. Even if you don’t need the help, it can make a relationship better by accepting small amounts of help from time to time.

3. Both sides should recognize the vastly different culture from childhood till now.  

Most adults whose parents are still living have experienced immense changes in their lives.  The culture in which your parents brought you up is VASTLY DIFFERENT than the culture in which you are raising your kids.  The same thought goes for parents with grown children: this current culture is VASTLY DIFFERENT than the culture in which you raised your own kids.  These differences cannot be underestimated, and an attempt at understanding the different pressures and climate of today’s culture can avoid a lot of difficulties.

I could say lots more, but these three should get you thinking.






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