Being the Best Mom of a Young Adult Child

Nearly every day my daughter sends me pictures from one or two years ago when her twin sons were babies or just little one year-olds. We both lament about how quickly these three years have gone. In my heart I think,

In just a snap, you’re going to be sending them off to college, just you wait and see.

It seems like it happened that quickly in my girl’s lives. It was as if one day we were pushing them on their swing set in the backyard, and the next day we were unloading totes and suitcases from the back of our mini van into their college dormitory. I had dreaded their move from home because I remembered from my own personal experience that when they come back home for a weekend visit, nothing will ever be the same again.

Now don’t cry! If you’ve just sent your child off for the first time, I’m sure the emotions are still raw and fresh, but be sure I’m not writing to discourage you, but to congratulate you! You have entered a new season of parenting. You’re in a new phase in your relationship as their mom, but it’s still no one but you can fill. I messed up plenty of times during these years and I learned many lessons along the way. Let me take what I learned and share with you how to be the best mom of a young adult child.

  1. You still need to be the one who prays specific prayers for your child.
    You know them so well, which means you know how to pray for their weaknesses and their needs.
    Pray for godly influences to pour into the heart of your young adult child.
    Pray they will have a godly mentor who can speak truth into their hearts.
  2. You still need to be the one who prays with your child. When they’re struggling, disappointed or hurting, take them to the Lord. Keep their dependence on Him – not on you as their mom. This can be hard for us moms because we’re used to fixing every problem in our children’s lives, but we won’t always be there! God will though! Teach them to depend on Him!
  3. You still need to be the one who cheers them on when they are tired and want to quit school or their job or serving the Lord.
    I’ll never forget calling home one day when I was in college. My accounting class was taking me down for the count, and I was so ready to pack up and go home. My mom gave me the pep talk I needed, telling me that if God had called me there in the first place (and I knew He had!), then His will had not changed. She encouraged me to do my best as I trusted in Him for His help. I passed the accounting class! I sure was thankful I didn’t give up!
  4. You still need to be the loving woman in their life. Do the little gestures the Proverbs 31 woman does – send a package of cookies, a Scriptural text, or a Chick-Fil-A gift card when you feel the Lord prompting your heart to do so. Invite them to come to vacations or holidays and bring a friend, but don’t expect it or demand it.
  5. You still need to be their dad’s wife. The greatest blessing you can give your young adult child is to have a strong marriage for them to see when they call or come home. It’s important to remember that you child is NOT your spouse, so they should get less attention than your husband does. Of course you miss them and love them, but you do still have a marriage that must be your priority. When your child does visit home, they’ll be coming into a loving, happy environment!

Now let me talk about a few things that you should NOT to be doing during this time in a young adult’s life…

  1. Don’t be making decisions for them. This is the time for your training during their early years to take over. If you see them moving in a way that concerns you, pray about it and then also pray about the opportunity to speak to them, then do so with a respectful, loving attitude. My husband put it in this wise way – “Now is the time to be asking them questions, rather than telling them what to do. If you see your young adult child making a poor decision, ask them questions like, ‘Can you tell me why you feel this is a wise choice?‘”
  2. Don’t post things on social media that keep reminding them and others that they are your baby. Their “adorable” baby or toddler pictures” will only serve to embarrass them and reveal your denial of the truth. Give them the kind consideration you would have wanted at that age.
  3. Don’t make them feel guilty for not joining in your family events. Give them the opportunity to choose for themselves how they will spend holidays or special days. Be honest – if you “guilt them” into coming, no one is really going to have the best time!

I promise you, I have had to apologize to both of my girls for breaking these rules from time to time! I think it’s because motherhood runs so deep in our hearts, it’s just hard to suddenly stop being what we’ve been for eighteen years! But I firmly believe that we will help to build a strong adult relationship when we let them be the young adult that we’ve trained them to be. This is God’s plan and His purpose for their lives. We can either aid in that or damage our part in encouraging them.

What questions do you have regarding this time in your child’s life? Where do you struggle?

Refresh your relationship with your young adult child by being a blessing to them at this time in their life, rather than a hindrance.

3 thoughts on “Being the Best Mom of a Young Adult Child

  1. Can you elaborate more on choosing whether or not to join family events or vacations? This has been the biggest struggle for me. If we are paying for any of their education, or other things like cell phones, car insurance, etc . . . or they are not in college but living at home isn’t there some sense of family obligation?

    This was never an option for us when we were younger. We never went to a friend’s house for a holiday. This “new” generation is very puzzling . . . . .


    1. Hi Stephanie, First, let me be clear that I’m describing a child who is out of high school. When they’re still in the home and under the age of 18, they are part of the household routines and events. I personally don’t feel like they have the maturity to make wise choices in hard situations that they don’t think they’ll enjoy. It can also turn into a selfish action of just doing what is best for themselves, rather than going to serve the family.

      I understand that it may feel like a young adult child should attend family events just out of love for the family, but I think we are doing them and ourselves a disservice if we demand it. Some good, loving questions could be posed, but then let it go. Our children don’t owe us anything. Let’s look at it in relation to the Lord. Why do we serve God? Because He demands it or because we love Him and desire to do so? It’s much sweeter when the will accompanies the action.

      Pray about it. Give it to the Lord. Then do your best with His help to create a loving atmosphere, rather than one of hostility and anger. It will be far more inviting than making the child feel guilty for not “repaying mom and dad” by doing whatever it is that we feel they should do.

      I hope this helps, Stephanie. I know this can be a touchy situation, but it’s all a part of letting our kids go, just like at birth; it is painful, but it’s part of God’s plan. ~Denise


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