No longer can we give unsolicited advice and expect a positive response. No "Ok Johnny, go get your hair cut, buy a new suit, and then send in your resume to this company." All those things may need to be done, but blatantly giving advice and instructing are no longer effective. Instead, we can gently ask questions like, "Son, what are you going to do next in your job search?" Or, you might say, "I think your idea to buy a new suit is a good one. If you'd like me to go along, let me know." Suggesting and affirming are much more effective methods than a straight out "here's how to do it."
The key question to ask during the transition years into adulthood is this: "Will these words or this action promote a healthier relationship with my adult child? If we ask that question honestly whenever we are in doubt, we will discover which way to act. During the teens, we helped our kids a lot. To guide them towards greater independence now, we can begin doing less and let them do more for themselves. Part of becoming a responsible citizen is learning to accept personal obligations and to respect others. How do we do this? By saying "no" more often.
Some parents acknowledge saying "no" to their kids is tough. How do you all of a sudden start saying, "No, you can't borrow the RV or the boat" or "No, I cannot baby-sit again this weekend?" Give an honest explanation. "We're planning to keep this RV as our retirement getaway and we are limiting its use so that it isn't worn out in three years." Or, "I'm sorry I can't sit. We made plans to have friends visit for the weekend." If we are respectful, while honest and gentle, our children will understand more readily. So yes, we are still active in our parenting role as our kids transition into adulthood. But it's not just their transition. It's ours too, and if we've done our job well, we can enjoy the mutual satisfaction of a friendship with our child for the rest of our lives.
I write to you, dear children, because your sins are forgiven through Christ. I write to you, fathers, because you know the One who existed (lived) from the beginning. I write to you, young people, because you have defeated the Evil One (the devil). I write to you, children, because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you know the One who existed (lived) from the beginning. I write to you, young people, because you are strong; the word of God lives in you, and you have defeated the Evil One (the devil). (1 John 2:12-14)
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