Thursday, October 27, 2022

Cutting the Apron Strings

I was recently asked to teach a breakout session at a Ladies Conference.  When the Pastor's Wife sent me the topic to speak on I was a little surprised.  The topic was on Parenting Adults.  I feel pretty new to this season of my life.  When Joshua was getting ready to graduate and we were in the midst of planning his graduation, I knew that we, as parents, were embarking on a new endeavor.  I wanted to desperately succeed at parenting my kids in their adult years.  I began asking lots of questions to other parents that had great relationships with their grown kids.  I began reading books on the topic and keeping my ears ready to listen to the topic.  Of course, I searched God's Word for answers, too.  So, although I am definitely not an expert on this topic, I was able to share what I've learned, and what I'm learning.  I thought I could share it here, too.

When learning how to parent adult children it's important to remember What our purpose as Mommas IS.  When they were younger we fulfilled many roles.  We were caregiver, director, disciplinarian, nutritionist, dietician, doctor and nurse, maid, teacher, taxi driver, counsellor, confidante, back rubber, boo-boo kisser......I could keep going, but when our kiddos are little we have many responsibilities.  So, what is my purpose now that they are older?  

My purpose is now 2 things:
 1.  Pray for them
2. Encourage them

It's that easy!! (or is it?)  I quite often remind myself to Pray & Encourage, Pray & Encourage.  I'm learning and sometimes I still give my opinions whether wanted or not, but I'm learning that these 2 things are my job now.  My time to teach and train my older 3 is done.  Now, It's time to Pray & Encourage.

What if their success was dependent upon my prayers?  Would they succeed or fail?  Have I asked them for specifics of what to pray for them about?

In this world there will be plenty of people that will want to tear my children down.  I don't want to be one of them.  I want to be their biggest cheerleader!!  I want to praise them publicly and privately.  If I look for the negative, I will find it.  (Just like they would find it in me.)  I want to on purpose see the good!

Just as important as knowing what our purpose is, it's also important to know what our purpose IS NOT.  My purpose is not to take away their hurts.  I wish I could, but I can't. It's so hard to see our children hurt.  There will be suffering and trials they will experience.  They will go through broken hearted times.  I can't easily make it all better any more.  And you know what?  God doesn't want me to.  He wants to be the one they run to in their time of need.  I don't want to be a Momma that gets in the way of that.  He needs to be their strong tower like in Proverbs 18:10.  Let God rescue them and watch their faith grow!!

So now we know what our pupose is and what it is not.  But do you have a plan?  Here are a few things I've learned:

~Initiate.  They don't have to always be the ones to initiate contact.  I hear too often from other ladies, "My son doesn't call me."  "My daughter doesn't come by to see me."  Do you call them?  Do you go see them?  Don't act as if they "owe" you. Just as they needed one on one time when they were little, they still need that time now.  But, life gets busy and will pass us by.  Invite them out for coffee.  Invite them to come over and make their favorite meal or dessert.  It's worth it!

~Don't be afraid to say NO.  Let me say up front....I haven't had to experience this.  My kiddos are very conscious of not abusing me.  But, I hear of many adult children that take advantage of their parents.  Their parents pay their bills.  Their parents watch their kids constantly.  Their parents are their taxi service.  Those Mommas are stressed and not enjoying their grandchildren as they ought to.  Don't be afraid to sweetly say "No." (with a smile of course :o) )  You can only be taken advantage of if you allow it.

Love them by loving their spouse.  Your daughter in law is not you.  She will do things, cleaning, child raising.   In fact, she will do all those things even better for your son because God made her for him.    She completes him.  Not you.  I know that's hard to take in sometimes.  I remember when Joshua and Tabitha had been married only a couple of months and Josh got really sick with a high fever.  I knew how high his fevers can get.  I know how to get the fever down and to check on him.  It was hard to walk away from their camper and leave him in Tabitha's hands that day.  My Momma heart wanted to walk right in with a cool cloth, tylenol, motrin and my thermometer.  But, I didn't.  And you know what?  Tabitha took good care of him.  Amazing care.   I'm learning that I can love Joshua best by loving Tabitha.  (And honestly she's so easy to love.  She's one of my girls!)  Do you know your daughter in laws and son-in-laws favorites?  Have you taken her out for coffee?  Have you bragged on her?   Let her know what a treasure she is.  (And your son in law, too)

~Have a happy marriage.  Just as a small child finds and feels security when their Mommy and Daddy are in love, adult children are the same way.  They need to know you are still in love with their Dad.  Don't complain about your husband to them.  And don't let them come between you and your husband.  Always side with your man.

~Make your home a place of peace---A retreat and refuge from the world.  Remember the saying, "There's no place like home!"  Is that true for your house?  Plan some fun times in your home.  Have your kiddos over for a fun family night.  They're not too old to play games with.  Plan some fun with them!  My Mom is a master at this.  She loves to do theme nights.  Cowboy, Hawaiin, Minute to win it games....Pinterest is a wealth of info here!  Get some fun things on the calendar.

~Don't complain about them.  Don't tear apart how they do things and or what they need to be doing.  Just don't.  Other people don't need to know of their struggles.  Of course they have them, just like we do.  Be the voice of praise in their lives.

~Don't be afraid to say you are sorry.  You will make mistakes sometimes.  Be ready to ask forgiveness.  And when they come to you asking the same, be merciful.

But what about when things don't go as planned?    I love the verse in Ezekiel 36:36, it says, "....I the Lord build the ruined places, and plant that that was desolate: I the Lord have spoken it, and I will do it."  We must trust the Lord with our children.  We must put them in His capable hands.  He can bring conviction.  He can take care of them.  We aren't perfect, so don't expect them to be.  Let them be adults and give them the gift of humanity.  Think about when you were that age.  You were still figuring out how to adult.  (Hey, I still am!)  Let them learn from their mistakes in their way and time.  No reminders needed.  And when they do fall or struggle, remember your purpose....Pray and Encourage.

It was 8 years ago that I faced this new season of life.  Like I said, I'm not an expert.  But I do have to say, I love this season of life.  Really, really love it.  I have best friends that are amazing.  We love to be together and do things together. Time with them is a treasure and a gift.

3 John 4 says, "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth."
It's true.  It really is.



  1. What you wrote about in-laws was one of the most beautiful things I have read. I’m in my early 30s and surrounded by women who have truly horrible relationships with their mothers-in-law. Obviously it’s a two-way street, but I think so much of the pain comes from a sense of feeling threatened. How beautiful to think of it from the beginning that our children’s spouse will do things better for them because God designed them for one another! Not something to be threatened by but to praise our Lord for His glorious provision!

  2. This was excellent. I am only a few years away from this, and I learned from you today.