Parenting Pep-Talk

The sting of the slam signaled my words cut deep.  I had again said the wrong thing to my 21year old daughter, Jessica, and she was upset. What was meant as a helpful correction came across as a nit-picky insult.

(photo credit: Margo Design Studios)

I have to say… I was not prepared for the incredible pain of releasing Jess to grow up.  The last two decades have been an all-consuming focus on preparing her, praying for her, and protecting her and NOW… I have to find the ability to truly let go of her

No words.

(Well.  I actually DO have words because what’s a blog without words?!)

I quickly knelt down and asked God for help, praying Psalm 139:23-24.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

I don’t want you to think I’m this super-spiritual-always-praying- or-always-in-church person, BUT… I really do understand my need for Jesus. Many times, for me, life boils down to this statement:

Life is hard AND God is incredible. He’s my hope, my strength, my comfort.

In the quiet of the moment, God nailed me. I was so quick to bring up her words, tone of voice and attitudes but was not dealing with those same issues in my life.

It was a classic case of Matthew 7:3-4 (NLT)

“Why worry about a speck in your friend’s (daughter’s) eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend (daughter!), ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ …when you can’t see past the log in your own eye?”

It was a humbling realization.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this topic of parenting adult children, and I keep coming back to analyzing Ephesians 6:3

“… do not exasperate your children (provoke them to anger); instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”

The word “instead” packs a punch.

Instead of controlling my kids, I can be an example to them… a mentor.

Instead of demanding— provide clear boundaries.

Instead of “guilting” them into doing something—ask questions and guide them.

Jessica often says I remind her of Phoebe on the show Friends. I thought this was a compliment until I watched a few episodes and it became clear Phoebe strategically uses guilt-inflicting comments to let her friends know they’ve disappointed her.

Message received loud and clear.

In those moments as I prayed for Jess, I knew I needed to respond— to find a positive way to reach out to her and build our relationship. I decided to write a letter, a one-sided conversation where I could tell her how much I love her and how proud I am of her— where I could write my apology and express what God is doing in my own life.

If you’ve followed my blog at all this past year, it should not surprise you when I say… as I was halfway through writing the letter, my song came on … No Longer a Slave to Fear. It’s God’s love song to me, and he keeps using it almost weekly, to encourage me. I definitely felt the warmth of his approval.

I left the letter on the kitchen counter as Eddie and I prepared to leave. We were heading to dinner to celebrate his birthday. On a whim, we decided to run away from home and stay the night in Monterey. Sometimes the parents of adult children need time and space, making sure their relationship is strong. After all, it won’t be too many years before it’s back to the original two—Ed and I.

Are you currently parenting an adult child? Do you have older children living in your home? Any tips, thoughts, strategies or book recommendations you could share?

As for me, my focus is to work on being a better wife and mom, and my ultimate goal…

to be a better friend than Phoebe ever was in ten seasons!  Hah!