I spend countless hours talking, writing, praying, and worrying about my two adult children. My friends and relatives do exactly the same thing.
our oldest, at the beach
The funny thing is, I don’t remember my parents spilling ink, or burning up the telephone lines talking about me after I turned 18.
In 1986, when I graduated from high school, children were mostly expected to fend for themselves, unless they went on to become full-time college students. The notion of taking a “gap year” between high school and college was generally frowned upon.
Most of the girls went to college, while the guys usually found jobs at reputable places that offered health insurance and retirement plans. If you were a guy with a good job and a car, you were a good catch, at least in my neck of the woods.
My husband and I met when I was 18, and he was 20. We were married before my 21st birthday. I earned an Early Childhood degree, while he worked at his full-time job. We had a 14 x 70 trailer house and a 1985 red Camaro. We thought we were rolling in high cotton.
The Long Transition from High school to Adulthood
Nowadays, things are different. College degrees are more important in today’s job market. The transition from high school to true adulthood is a long one. Children either struggle to earn a degree or obtain a foothold in the workforce. Education loans and housing costs can be especially challenging for young adults trying to make their way.
Full-time students are kept on family cell phone bills, car insurance policies, and health plans during the 4 to 6 year transition. Many families keep even their working- adult children on the family dole, in one way or another, until they get married.
Although we don’t have any married children, we have plenty of family members and friends in that situation. I know they struggle with decisions regarding the amount of emotional, financial, and childcare support to provide.
One thing that concerns me about the current, long transition to adulthood is the delay of marriage. As Christian parents, our desire is that our children remain pure until marriage. In today’s education-driven culture and economy, you might have to wait a long time before you can marry.
Ideally, the longing to live as husband and wife should inspire a young man to work hard to earn a degree, or to become stable enough in a job to provide a place for his bride.
Likewise the young woman should be inspired to finish her education or training, while gathering the skills needed to manage her future home and family.
It is not a punishment to remain pure until marriage, it is a blessing. For God will not withhold any good thing from us, but is waiting to give it at the proper time.
In our family we have struggled to define the household rules for our young adults. We are still trying to find a good balance between instilling financial responsibility and supporting them until they get an education.
In my journey so far, I have not found all of the answers, but I do have two solid pieces of advice. First of all, stand together as husband and wife when making parental decisions. You are called to be one flesh. Secondly, remember that you are responsible before the Lord regarding your parenting.
Stand Together as One Flesh
Parents should stand together when making decisions regarding adult children. Beware of the “divide and conquer” tactic from children of all ages.
As a note to women, I would say that decisions made without your husband’s support will probably have undesirable consequences . Even if you are right, and he is wrong, he is still called to be your children’s protector. He may decide to wash his hands of the whole thing, if his opinion doesn’t matter anyway. You are really going to need him during this time! Don’t try to win a battle that may cost you the whole war.
Be Responsible Before the Lord
Your children may not be living the victorious life that you envisioned for them, at least not at this time in their lives. They have their own free will, even if you do have them on your
cell phone plan. However, as a parent, you are still responsible for honoring God in YOUR decisions regarding them. You don’t have to finance an unholy lifestyle, or habit.
I always think of Eli, in Samuel I. He knew that his sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were lying with the women who served at the doorway of the tent of meeting. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? It reminds me of some of our modern-day church scandals.
He SPOKE to them about it, but he didn’t really DO anything about it. As a result of honoring his sons above God there were consequences for his whole family.
A man came and gave him this sobering message from God:
31 Behold, the days are coming when I will break your strength and the strength of your father’s house so that there will not be an old man in your house. 32 You will see the distress of My dwelling, in spite of all the good that I do for Israel; and an old man will not be in your house forever. 33 Yet I will not cut off every man of yours from My altar so that your eyes will fail from weeping and your soul grieve, and all the increase of your house will die in the prime of life. 34 This will be the sign to you which will come concerning your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas: on the same day both of them will die. I Samuel 31-34
While this passage may seem very “Old Testamentish” to some, the principle still stands. Putting your love or your relationship with your children above the Lord has consequences.
To all of the adult children out there, know that your parents are imperfect sinners, painfully struggling with every household, fiscal, and personal decision regarding you. We are rooting for you with all of our hearts. We love you, and have loved you since the moment you took your first breath. There are no two people on this planet that want you to succeed more than we do.
Moms and Dads Everywhere
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