Want to know how to be a great parent to your adult kids? First of all, you need to start by understanding that regardless of whether your kids are Millennials or Gen Zers, what you do and what you say as a parent still means the world to them! Oh, they may act like they’re all independent and adulty, but deep down, even they will admit that it’s true. Let’s be real; my 80-something-year-old parents’ opinion is still important to me!
I think we all want to be great parents to our adult kids! I, for one, am always looking for ways to bless and encourage my adult kids. Aren’t you? A little while ago, it occurred to me that I should actually ask my kids (Imagine that! 🤣) to tell me the ways I could be a great parent to them! Honestly, I think they appreciated being asked! They were so sweet and helped me put together this list. Some of the things on their list were not surprising (gifts!), but some were (presence). I hope it’s a blessing to you!
How to Be a Great Parent to Adult Kids
1. Ask Them How You Can Be a Great Parent to Them
Yep! Do what I did, and actually ask! After all, there’s no sense in guessing. Take what they say to heart, even if it’s hurtful or corrective. Then honor what they say, do it, and (perhaps most importantly) do not attach an expectation of reciprocation.
2. Give Little “I Love You” Gifts
The best gifts are personal and meaningful to the recipient. In our family, we’ve always given what we call “I Love You Gifts.” They are simply gifts that don’t need an occasion. They aren’t expensive or over-the-top. Think about sending a Starbucks e-gift card when you know your college kid has a busy week of tests and isn’t getting much sleep or a big bag of their favorite candy sent straight from Amazon. (BTW, I have lots of gift ideas for all ages up on the Empty Nest Blessed Amazon page!)
3. Love, Support, and Encourage Their Spouses/Boyfriends/Girlfriends
Treat their loved ones as members of the family. (You may just fall in love too!) When my son’s sweet girlfriend visits and stays at our house, I stock the fridge with her favorite drinks and make sure her room is full of things I know she will love.
Another really special thing we’ve done with our kids and their significant others is to ask them to tell us the story of how they met. Then, we asked follow-up questions about their first impressions of one another and what they love and appreciate about each other. I think they loved telling it as much as we loved hearing it!
4. Let Them Know You’re Thinking of Them
When your adult kids are out of the nest, let them know you’re thinking of them by doing something like forwarding a news story or funny video that you think they’d enjoy. I send GIFs, Bible verses, photos of funny bumper stickers I see, and more.
5. Pray For Them
I think prayer is so important that I wrote a whole post about how I pray for my kids. Stormie Omartian’s book, The Power of Praying for Your Adult Children, has been really helpful to me! My kids know I’m praying for them, and they are encouraged by it. Truly, it’s the most valuable thing we can do for them.
6. Support Their Side Hustle or Hobby
My precious daughter-in-law teaches second grade. Like many teachers, she has a side hustle. She’s a talented baker and sells delicious and adorable baked goods! Also, like many teachers, most of the proceeds from her side hustle go into making her classroom the best learning environment possible for her students.
Recently, I was looking for a practical way to encourage Sarah in her side hustle, so I reached out to my friends at Joy Creative Shop and asked them to help me! Working collaboratively, the graphic geniuses at Joy Creative Shop, Sarah, and I designed stickers, tags, and a notepad that matched her branding. It was such a fun project!
Joy Creative Shop’s specialty is personalization, and I’m so grateful to them for helping me support Sarah in such a tangible way! Got a project that you need help personalizing? Email them HERE, and tell them you’re a friend of mine!
7. Be Present When You Can
There are times when Facetime just won’t do the trick, and your kids need a real-life hug from Mom or Dad. In our family, we call this the “ministry of presence.” It’s not about rescuing them, but rather, coming alongside them when they need it most, and you can do it best. Bad breakup with the boyfriend? Really sick? Completely overwhelmed with life? If you’re close enough, practice the ministry of presence and go to them. Take a gallon of ice cream, chicken soup, or a fuzzy blanket, and get over there!
8. Ask the “Expert”
When our kids leave the nest, they learn and grow. Most likely, they’ll become “experts” in a field that is unfamiliar to you. You can bless and encourage them by asking intelligent questions about their field, listening to their answers with interest, and asking good follow-up questions.
With a son who is an attorney and an expert on college football, a son who has his MBA in CRM, a daughter-in-law who teaches second grade, and a daughter who is a working actress, we do this all the time – and we’ve learned a lot! Everybody likes to share their knowledge and insight. So give your kids a chance to show off a little! And then bless and encourage them by telling them how impressed you are with them. (You really will be!)
Looking for more encouragement as you parent your adult kids? Check out the other posts I’ve written on this subject HERE. What practical things do you do to be a great parent to your adult kids? Leave me a comment and share your best ideas!