If your children are adults, living an independent adult-life, you may not identify yourself as parent so much anymore. You may have stuck that title in the closet, since most of your former parenting duties are no longer required. And if there are grandkids, almost certainly you think of yourself as a grandparent more than a parent. Then Mother’s Day or Father’s Day comes along and you’re reminded again: Once a parent, always a parent. It’s a role that, once you step into it, you never leave. No matter the circumstances.Once a #parent, always a parent. #emptynest #empowerednester Click To Tweet
With that being said, there are a lot of differing opinions on just how much parenting one should do once the kids move out. I’ve heard moms expecting daily phone calls and reports back on their 30-year-old’s activities. I’ve also known moms and dads who haven’t heard from their kids in years. There’s a ton of room between these two examples, and I hope to give a little insight into finding that sweet spot in the midst of life’s changes.
They’re Still Watching You
Remember when your toddler would repeat something you’d said weeks before, and you didn’t even know they were listening? Or they later made a decision based on how you would have done it, without even mentioning it to you? Although the kids have moved out and you may only see them occasionally, your actions still speak volumes. They are still listening to your opinions and watching how you handle life around you. As your adult children are trying to find their way, for good or for bad, they are still taking many of their cues from you. This is a huge opportunity — for both you and your kids!As your adult children are trying to find their way, for good or for bad, they are still taking many of their cues from you. #emptynest Click To Tweet
First, this should challenge you:
- to take better care of yourself,
- do what you’ve been dreaming about,
- take risks,
- be vulnerable,
- live genuinely,
- and love deeply.
If you still think you’re not worth the extra money or effort or time for what you really need or desire, your kids may fall into the same trap. Take this opportunity to show them that valuing yourself is not only ok, but right. They need to see your example of godly self-care. Set them free to love their life by loving yours.
Second, it should encourage you.
- Your relationship with your kids may be stronger than you realize.
- They may value you more than they know how to show you.
- What you sow now will reap a reward at the perfect time.
“So, I was Wondering…”
While your example will be some of your greatest influence on your adult children, there will be days when they come to you. It may feel as natural to them as brushing their teeth, or it may take a lot of humility and courage. Either way, hold these moments with care.
- Listen closely and without interruption.
- Pause before responding to hear the Holy Spirit’s input.
- And with love, share and release.
Don’t imprison your son or daughter with your advice. Remember, give it freely knowing they still have the right and responsibility to make their own decision. Trust them to do what they feel is best and learn from their choice, and they will trust you the next time they need input.
And in All Things – Pray
Last, and by no mean least, you have more opportunity than you can imagine to influence the life of your kids through your prayers. No, not to manipulate. (God will not partner with that!) And not to carry a burden He doesn’t ask you to carry, believing that if you don’t pray, they are doomed. Instead, we get the incredible privilege of listening to God’s heart and dreams for our kids and agreeing with Him.
We also get to push back clouds of doubt or fear that may be hanging over them and speak words of hope and life through our prayers. Never let the visible circumstances keep you from believing what God has said over your kids. James 5:16 reminds us, “…tremendous power is released through the passionate, heartfelt prayer of a godly believer!”Your role as a mom or dad doesn't have an expiration date. #emptynest #empowerednester Click To Tweet
A point comes in the parenting journey when the doorknob on the Door of Advice should only be used from the kid’s side — unless their life is in danger. Respect that change the same as you needed your parents to respect it for you. Don’t inadvertently block the roadway for your son or daughter to move forward in life by interjecting your opinions at any given moment. But also know, your role as a mom or dad doesn’t have an expiration date. Keep the Welcome mat out and the shades up so they know, when they need to, they can always come to you.