In this week’s Monday Minute, Brenda shares with us three ideas God has shown her for parenting adult children amidst the challenges of military life.

3 Ideas for Parenting Adult Children

by Brenda Pace


“I feel like someone chopped off an appendage!”


This is how I felt when our family PCS’ed to Washington DC at the end of my oldest son’s senior year of high school. He left for college while we moved to a new place that never felt like home to him. With no gradual adjustment when he moved away, the transition felt brusque and harsh—at least for this mama. 


The adjustment in parent-child roles can feel abrupt for military families when home base suddenly changes to an unfamiliar location for the child who has gone off on their own. For whatever reason and whenever it happens, the shift from being the supervisor of daily activities to that of encourager and mentor of an adult child is a necessary adjustment for parents and children. 

A Biblical Example

Do you think Mary felt some of the same emotions we do as her parenting role with Jesus shifted? 


“On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

John 2:1-5 ESV


After this event in Cana, things were never the same. The response of Jesus to Mary’s request may seem harsh to our Western way of thinking, but when Jesus addressed Mary as woman, he took the necessary step toward redefining their roles. His identity moved from son to Savior. He willingly responded to her request to do something to help the bride and groom, but he did not do it under her authority. This time he moved in the authority granted him by God. Mary sets a lovely example by her response. She did not take offense, question him, or rebuke him for his reply to her. She trusted him to do the right thing illustrated by her command, “Do whatever he tells you.” 

Three Things I’m Learning about Parenting Adult Children

I am and will always be a life-long learner—or maybe a slow learner—when it comes to parenting. Here are three things I glean and hope to put into practice from this story of Mary and Jesus about parenting adult children:


  • Release—The act of release and relinquishment may take courage and discipline. I realize I must release my adult children to make their own decisions with much encouragement and little commentary. 


  • Respect—I must respect the boundaries my children want to set as they flex their adult wings. Healthy relationships require respect and room to grow. I give them a gift when I respect them as adults, especially in the way I speak to them. I want my tone, words, and actions to communicate grace and respect.


  • Reliance—I can trust what my husband and I taught and instilled in our children is in their hearts and minds. The way they walk that out may look different than I thought it would, but that is okay. Through intercession for my children, I place my reliance in the Spirit of God, knowing he loves my children more than I and he will direct them.


I regularly pray this Scripture from Ephesians 3:14-19 (ESV) for my adult children—and their children. 

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Amen.


Additional Resources

Doing Life with Your Adult Children: Keep Your Mouth Shut & the Welcome Mat Out by Jim Burns

The Power of Praying for Your Adult Children Book of Prayers by Stormie Omartian

Blessing Your Grown Children: Affirming, Helping, and Establishing Boundaries by Debra Evans