Want to do a better job of showing love to your adult children? No matter what age they are, our kids need to know we love them. It’s just as true when they’re adults as it was when they were kids! Your expressions of love are going to look different, for sure, but it’s more important than ever that you show them your approval and love. I’m sharing six practical ways that you can show love to your adult children.
1. Be their Cheerleader
Everybody needs an “attaboy” sometimes! Your adult kids need to know that you have full confidence in them and in their ability to handle challenges and adversity. (After all, I’m 55, and I still want to hear it from my 80-something-year-old parents! 😁) Say things like, “You’ve got this! It may be challenging but because you’re the kind of person that ______(list positive character qualities here)______, I know you’ve got what it takes to handle this.” They won’t handle every situation perfectly as they learn and grow, but you can always encourage them by pointing out what they’re learning and how that knowledge will help them the next go-’round.
2. Be Generous
I’m not necessarily talking about money! Be generous with your time, your resources, and your support. When our son and his wife moved to a new apartment, we blocked the date off on our calendar so we could help. It might not have been our favorite way to spend a Saturday, but it was a tangible way that we could serve them. Over the course of the day, the four of us had lots of laughs and meaningful conversations, and it gave us ample opportunity to build them up and encourage them. We said things like, “I love this _____(name of furniture or accessory)_____. You have such great taste!”
One practical way to show love to your adult kids is to take them on short trips one at a time. In fact, we actually love going on couple trips with our son and daughter-in-law. We’re headed up to Broken Bow, Oklahoma with them in a few weeks!
3. Keep Your Opinions to Yourself (Mostly!)
When your kids become adults (and especially when they get married), be sure that you establish and maintain healthy boundaries with them. Remind yourself that the growing-up process may be a little bit of a hot mess! They’re going to stumble around as they learn to figure things out on their own. There really are no shortcuts when you’re learning to “adult.”
It will be hard to watch sometimes. They’ll handle some things well, and some, not so much. 😬 In many situations, you will see the writing on the wall before they do and you’ll be able to predict (with ah-mazing accuracy 😂) what is probably going to happen. Resist the urge to intervene (although that will be your default setting!). If it’s a matter of safety and you absolutely must, be sure to ask their permission first.
If there’s something they’ve brought up to you before and you feel the need to circle back, you could try saying something like, “I’ve been thinking about what you said the other day about ____ (situation, person) _____. I’ve had a couple of thoughts!” (Insert big smile here😁, which should hopefully make them either laugh or roll their eyes!) Then ask them if they’d like to hear your thoughts. Tell them, “You can say ‘no.’ If you don’t want to hear it, that’s fine.” (BTW, none of mine have ever said no!)
4. Be a Good Listener
Always ask about them first. Say things like, “How was your day? How did everything work out with _____ (situation, person)_____?” Let them talk and ask follow-up questions if it’s appropriate and they seem open to it.
Whatever you do, DO NOT bring your own agenda, emotional baggage, or neediness into the conversation. Do not vent about your struggle with the empty nest or the fight you got into with their dad! You’re the (older) adult. Show love to your adult kids by acting like it. If you need to unload on someone, call a friend or look into counseling.
Be sure to let them be the “experts” and even show off a little by telling you about their latest success, how hard they’re working, how much stress they’re under, etc. It will give you a chance to be their cheerleader! (See #1.) I tell my two unmarried kids that I’m always here to “hold the bucket” for them. Even if they just want to call me and vent (or celebrate a success) for 5 minutes, I’m happy to be that person for them—with no agenda.
5. Speak It
Tell them you love them. If they’re embarrassed, shorten it to “Love ya!” and say it even more often! Don’t assume they know how you feel. Expressing your love in words is never, ever wrong and showing it in their primary Love Language is even better. And when you speak it, honor them by doing it in their preferred mode. That means doing things like texting (instead of calling) or sending thoughtful or funny GIFs.
6. Pray for Them
Pray for your kids and tell them that you’re praying for them. Prayer is simply talking to our loving Heavenly Father. He established it as the means by which we receive his supernatural help. Not sure how to do it? The post I wrote on how I pray for my adult kids is a favorite of Empty Nest Blessed followers! You can check it out HERE. I think it’s the absolute best way to show love to your adult children.
Want more? You might find these posts helpful:
No matter what their age, your adult children need your love, encouragement, and support. How do you express love to your adult kids? I’d love to know your tips in the comments below.
I’ve linked a few of my favorite resources to help you as you show love to your adult kids. These have all been helpful to me. Know that after years of giving instruction and advice to our kids while they were growing up, the shift that parenting adult kids requires doesn’t come naturally! It will take effort on your part.
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