Are you wondering about setting boundaries with your adult children? Parenting your adult child sounds like an oxymoron. The two really shouldn't go together, but they often do. There is an epidemic of children eighteen years and older (even much older) that still require involvement from their parents in their lives and want support in the form of a place to live, money, training, and emotional energy. This requires a plan and an understanding of the ways adult children should be parented. Here are five ways God wants you to parent your adult child:
1. Everything you do needs to be with the goal of increasing independence rather than fostering dependence. It isn't easy for most eighteen year olds to move out on their own and be self-supporting as well as pay for educational or vocational training. Parental support can be a good thing, as long as it is working toward independence rather than fostering dependence. If you give any help to your son or daughter that is making it easier for them to start a career, it is positive and good. This is God's plan for you to raise children who become independent and healthy adults who make wise choices (Proverbs 22:6).
2. Your son or daughter needs to be responsible for his or her own irresponsibility. This way your parenting shifts from punishment and deciding to impose consequences to letting your child experience the results of his/her own decisions. This means that you never bail your child out when bad decisions are made. You wouldn't pay overdue credit cards. You wouldn't pay for traffic tickets or accidents. You wouldn't pay late fees. You wouldn't pay for lost items. You wouldn't pay for dropped college classes. This supports God's law of reaping what you sow (Galatians 6:7-8).
3. The relationship needs to be mutually respectful. This means that your child listens to your concerns, speaks respectfully to you, interacts with you, and uses language you find acceptable. It means that you treat your child like an adult and listen to his/her concerns, speak respectfully, and don't get into business that should be private. God wants all of us to treat each other with respect and honor (1 Peter 2:17).
4. Your child needs to follow the house rules.Your life should not be disrupted by your child; your child needs to adapt to you. Don't be afraid to impose a curfew that allows you to go to bed rather than wait up for him/her to come home. Impose rules that keep you from worrying and from being annoyed. You don't have to allow TV watching or activity in the house that would prevent you from sleeping or enjoying your life as you want to. You can ask that your child be respectful of your rules when visiting and/or living there and not doing anything in your home that is unacceptable to you. Proverbs 25:17 says we should be careful what we do in someone else's house or they will grow to hate us.
5. Reward success and don't reward laziness. Your child needs to experience the positive benefits of succeeding. Good grades in college mean you pay for more college classes. A responsible child who is working toward a degree, a career, and an independent life by being involved in some sort of educational or vocational training and is working hard might deserve for you to give some extra cash to lighten the load. This child should get more support from you than the child that is doing almost nothing. Unfortunately, it typically works the opposite with parents giving more to the child who is lazy. God doesn't honor laziness and even goes as far as to say that someone who doesn't work shouldn't eat (2 Thessalonians 3:10).
If you set boundaries with your adult children these five ways that God wants you to parent, then you will be increasing the likelihood that you will soon be out of a job. Ultimately, that is God's plan for you and your adult son or daughter.
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