My friend Janice asked this on a message board I help moderate and I thought it would make a great discussion here as well.

How do YOU remain, or become, “friends” with your adult children? Those who live at home and those who do not. Those who are married? What do you DO to retain a strong friendship. I know we will always be mom and that’s good but what about a *friendship*.

Building friendships with our adult children is a process.

This is a process that begins during the teen years when they still live at home. If we have raised our children to be respectful when they are young, we should be able to develop a relationship with them when they are teenagers that allows for less control and more communication.

Our children belong to God. Building relationships now that will become friendships when our children are adults.

Some of the things I suggest are:

  • pray with them and share your relationship with God together
  • discuss A LOT about all kinds of things
  • listen to their opinions
  • ask them about their thoughts and opinions
  • play with them – especially silly things
  • share in their enjoyments and pleasures, music and movies, etc.
  • build them up in the positive things, particularly their identity in Christ
  • encourage them to know we will be their #1 cheerleader in their marriage and with their spouse

This is what we’ve tried to cultivate with our teens to help our relationship with them transit from one of Chain of Command to Chain of Counsel. I don’t look for friendship in my adult children, per se. But I do look for a free and easy relationship with open and honest communication and love. I don’t expect to be their “buddy” nor get offended if they have intimate friends besides me (I know some mothers who are offended if they are not their daughter’s #1 friend/playmate).

Some things I’ve seen parents do that are destructive:

  • not allow their children to become adults
  • manipulate their children’s life choices (especially using money)
  • control their children in college
  • use guilt as a weapon to stay in control of their children’s lives
  • rescue them from every situation or trouble without being asked
  • micromanaging in general
  • play mind games concerning potential mates of their children

It is so important for us to remember that our children are not ours…they are God’s!

Our job is to raise them up so they can live and work for God’s glory.  We are to keep them close under our wing when they are young so we can protect them. As they grow older, our job changes to help them learn to fly. Eventually, they must leave the nest to soar into the journey God has for them. They will then go on to feather their own nests and raise their own fledglings.

Without that goal in mind, our views become distorted and we forget what this is all about. It is all about God’s glory and raising our children to walk righteously and joyfully with Him. Keeping this perspective won’t make things perfect or keep us from failing, but it will help us from falling into the pitfalls of trying to stay in the center of their lives when we need to always be placing God there.

What practical things have you done, or are you doing, to help build friendships with your adult children?

(image courtesy of Jean-Baptiste Jules Trayer/wikimedia commons)

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