A Word to Christian Parents of Adult Children
God wants all of His children to be saved. Our calling as Christians is to bring the lost to Him. But, we all know the biggest challenge for Christians is to witness to our own families…particularly our children.
Children who grow up in church are more likely to be saved before the age of 10. After that it becomes much less likely. However, childhood faith, though genuine, is simpler faith and often is inadequate for adult problems. In addition, the parent is in a constant battle with the secular world for his or her child’s attention. So, some children, no matter how steeped in religion at home and church, reject their parents’ teaching and refuse to embrace their parents’ faith when they become teens or young adults.
In either case, the parent can be faced with a dilemma…dealing with an adult child who is unsaved and/or is not part of a church family.
So, what is the Christian parent to do?
Understand that straying is normal. All children go through a period of rebellion against their parents’ beliefs as a way of individualizing (becoming their own person). Sometimes all it takes is a little patience as they work through their issues and confusion.
- As parents, we must do everything possible to keep the lines of communication open with our adult children. Even when we are at odds with our children’s beliefs or lifestyles, we need to let them know they can always come to us with their questions and concerns. Maintain family traditions, holiday gatherings and visits to give your children continuity as they try to find their way.
- Never try to use one child to influence another. This isn’t fair to either child and may appear under-handed and dishonest to them. Children who feel their parents are scheming to change them will find it difficult to trust them.
- Pray for your children daily. Keeping God in the equation will bring you a sense of peace. Acknowledging that God is ultimately in charge of the situation will keep you open to His guidance. You can’t force these things. God’s time is not our time and His reasons are often unknown to us.
- Talk to your children about your own struggles. Chances are you went through your own period of rebellion as a teen or young adult. Sharing that fact will give you a jumping off point for discussion and reassure him that his questions are normal.
- Share books which may be helpful to your children. They can be works of fiction, biographies or any other book that focuses on a foundation of faith.
- Invite your adult children to special events at church. Special events, such as holiday programs will bring members and non-members to the church and will feel less confrontational to the non-believer.
- Take your grandchildren to church if your adult children will allow it. Grandchildren will often get involved in special programs, Bible school and other activities which involve the parents. The kids will also share what they have learned with their parents.
- Avoid the guilt. Guilt won’t solve anything. You can’t re-live the past. You have to deal with the situation as it stands now. Look forward with faith and hope.
- Continue to love your wayward children unconditionally and tell them so. Never suggest that your love and support hinges on anything. By loving unconditionally, you are modeling God’s own love.
- Expect and demand respect and tolerance for your own religious beliefs. Your adult child’s questioning should never cross over into disrespect or disdain for you or God. Make sure your adult child knows that God’s name will be honored in your home and anywhere you are together. Standing strong for your faith will illustrate to him or her that you take your faith seriously enough to defend it.