How do you “be there” for your grown-up child without being “too there” for your grown-up child?
Parenting a grown-up child is complex.
It takes a different kind of parenting mindset to reach a grown-up child that is more nuanced and possibly a different dynamic than what you’re even used to. I’ll explain more below.
Through my experience writing three books for twentysomethings, speaking to and hearing from thousands of emerging adults over the years, as well as speaking to leaders in organizations on how to best lead and retain young professionals, I have formulated some good strategies for parents on the best ways to support and connect with your grown-up children.
Now, if you are a twentysomething reading this, don’t leave yet. You might want to forward this email on to your parents! 🙂 Also, I’d love to hear your opinion on these seven points below.
7 Best Ways to Support Your Grown-Up Child
1. Help Your Grown-Up Child Explore on Purpose
Yes, your grown-up child’s path might not look like the path either one of you envisioned, but maybe that’s okay.
All explorers have to first get lost. Yet, as I write in my new book 101 Questions You Need to Ask in Your Twenties the biggest difference with just wandering aimlessly and exploring is that:
Explorers get lost on purpose with purpose for a purpose.
Explorers have guides along with them to help them navigate the parts of the journey they don’t know how to handle.
Can you help be one of these guides for them? Someone who will walk alongside your grown-up child and help them be more intentional in their “lostness”.
The more calm you can be about it, the more you can listen to your grown-up child instead of telling them this is the exact path they need to be on, the more you can help support their journey.
2. Share Your Story With Your Adult Children (Struggles Included!)
When your grown-up child was a kid, you kept your struggles away from them so that they could be comforted and at peace in your strengths.
Yet, now that your child is an adult, they want to hear about your struggles and questions, especially when you were in your twenties trying to figure life out.
The most profound way to connect with your grown-up child is by sharing your honest story with them. Especially the less-than-glamorous parts.
I give the same advice to leaders and CEO’s who bring me in to speak on how to better engage and retain Millennials. Being vulnerable and sharing your struggles is not easy, and can be a huge shift in the parenting and leadership style that you might be used too.
Yet, the age of the super-human leader with no flaws is dead.
Millennials and Gen Z don’t want to follow super-humans, they want to follow actual humans.
The more you can honestly talk about your weaknesses with your grown-up child, the more they will trust your strengths.
So think back to when you were in your twenties or when you have gone through major life transitions.
Did you have life all figured out? Even if you thought you did, do you wish now you could go back and do some things differently or ask yourself some hard questions about what you really wanted your life to look like?
As I write in my new book 101 Questions You Need to Ask in Your Twenties: (and let’s be honest, your thirties too):
We’re all struggling. Yet, we’re all struggling to make it appear like we’re not struggling.”
Create a safe space for your adult children to share their struggle with you by being vulnerable enough to share a piece of your struggle with them.
If you need some more encouragement to share your struggle, here’s a quick, captivating video I created about the importance of being brave enough to “go first”.
3. Help Your Grown-Up Children Ask Good Questions
Better than any answer you can give them is a good question.
Give your grown-up child a direct answer about how they should be living their life and their defenses might instantly flare up.
Give your grown-up child an insightful question, let them wrestle with the answer, and you will see a much more powerful change.
Not sure what questions you should be asking them? Well, did I mention I have a new book called 101 Questions You Need to Ask in Your Twenties: (and let’s be honest, your thirties too). It’s a great conversation starter. Snag the book and send it your adult child. Maybe don’t even tell them who it’s from.
Give them strategic, insightful questions and then be there for them when they want your insight into the answers.
4. Be a Connector for Your Adult Child
As a parent, your network is probably much larger than your grown-up child’s network.
Can you help make a connection for them? Can you introduce them to a old colleague from the past or friend you’ve lost contact with who is working in a career field your adult child wants to, and bridge that connection for them?
Or maybe your adult child needs to hear some advice from a different source? Connect them to your mentor.
As the old proverb states, “walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.”
Help your grown-up child connect with wise people and they will grow in their wisdom.
Maybe they are one connection away from their break-through.
5. Allow Your Grown-Up Children to Fail
It’s never fun to watch your kids fail, especially when you feel like you could’ve prevented it. But as I write in my book 101 Secrets For Your Twenties:
The possibility for greatness and embarrassment both exist in the same space.”
So are you willing to allow your grown-up child the possibility of embarrassing themselves? And then as well, possibly embarrassing you? By doing so, you’re also giving them the possibility to do something great.
Are you willing to let go of the giant guilt trips you give your grown-up children and yourself, and let your adult child make mistakes?
If you smother and protect your adult children from having any setbacks, that could very well be the biggest setback of them all.
I’m consisting reminding Millennials that you will fail a lot in your twenties. The key is when you fail don’t begin calling yourself a failure.
Same applies to parents of adult children — just because your adult children are failing in some ways doesn’t mean you’re a failure as a parent. Failure is a necessary part of the success process. If your grown-up children don’t fail at all, well, that might be the biggest failure they could have.
6. Continue Down a Path of Growth and Health in Your Own Life
If we want more healthy kids, then we need more healthy parents.
I’m constantly trying to remind myself this. I don’t think this changes, no matter if your children are grown or just entering the world.
If you want your grown-up kids to be living intentional, thoughtful, healthy lives, are you striving to do the same?
The best truths you can teach your adult children is by living them.
7. Love. Empathy. Encouragement. Prayer.
Tell your adult child you believe in them. Tell them they have what it takes. Period.
No matter how old your adult children are, your words of encouragement and belief will never get old.
This doesn’t mean you don’t set boundaries. This doesn’t mean you can’t respectfully disagree.
This just means when you do disagree, you still love and speak life.
Loving your kids unconditionally should never change; whether your child is seven-years-old with a broken arm or 27-years-old with a broken relationship.
And when you don’t know how to best love or support them, pray for them.
In the shadows of every great world changer is a mom, dad, or grandparent who prayed unceasingly for their kids.
Knowing that you are there for your adult kids, that you love them even when you don’t love all their decisions, is the most simple and radical way to support them.
Help your grown-up children ask the right questions with my new book 101 Questions You Need to Ask in Your Twenties.