Understanding Your Young Adult
Gary Chapman has written a very insightful book on this topic called, Parenting Your Adult Child. These distinctives are helpful in understanding the cultural changes regarding this particular group:
- Adult children typically live more than one hundred miles away, often out of state.
- Parents hope to see their children one big holiday a year, not every Sunday for dinner.
- Many adult children don’t marry until their late twenties to their thirties.
- Some adult children have live-in partners of the opposite sex, sharing their lives and sometimes their checking accounts, but not marrying. They’re convinced marriage is too risky, at least for a while.
- Adult children value leisure time more than their parents and feel less loyalty to their jobs.[i]
These lifestyle choices are felt keenly in the family circle, especially by parents who may be disappointed or displeased with those choices. Nevertheless, parents need to support and encourage their adult children in any way that they can, while not violating their own principles.
The Goal: From Parent to Friend
Moving into more of a friendship role does not mean that one abdicates the parental role. It is unique, and usually as the adult child matures, he or she acknowledges their need for a relationship with their parents, although on a different level. Being a parent at this stage of life means advising when asked, working on a mutually satisfying adult friendship, and above all else, praying for your child. Naturally there will be tensions in these areas, but avoiding judgmentalism and unnecessary negative comments will go a long way toward a positive and enjoyable relationship between both parties. While this is uncharted territory, respecting your child and his/her choices will enable the parent to share their life in an appropriate role. The adult child needs to feel accepted and valued by his/her parents, being secure in their love and support.
[i] Gary Chapman, Parenting Your Adult Child (Chicago: Northfield, 1999), 14.