Navigating this new Empty Nest season can often be trial and error. It takes a good amount of sitting back and observing what works and what doesn’t and a whole lot of leaning in to those brave life mentors who walked this road before you. Here are a few things I’m learning about how to love your adult children really well.
An expression my children often heard growing up was “I’m not your friend, I’m your parent”. That served me well while raising them and gave them boundaries we thought they needed to learn respect and become responsible adults. I was not nor am I the perfect parent. I’ve certainly made my share of mistakes and I’m in no real position to give anyone else advice, but I can share with you some insights that have helped me to embrace my new role from guiding caregiver to supportive parent.
- Pray for them – bring all your worries, concerns and gratitude to God
- Tell them you love them often and in different ways – face to face, text, written notes
- Say I’m sorry when you notice something you didn’t do well from the past
- Give them room to grow AND fall and the freedom to ask questions around their life choices
- It’s okay to say no and set boundaries – adults have mutual respect for one another’s time and space
- Offer encouragement (point out their strengths and gifts) let them know they have what it takes
- Be a good listener – recognize their unique way of communicating and meet them where they are
- Ask permission before giving advice – you had your years to train them well…ask questions to see if they listened
- Ask them what they care about – doesn’t that just feel good for anyone? Someone cares about what I think…
- Finally, now is the time to enjoy the new-found friendship with them as adults. Create opportunities to laugh and play