Sunday, April 15, 2012


by Susan Davis

           Parenting adult children requires a different set of communication skills than it took when they were younger. Patterns of behavior from childhood, especially response patterns, tend to remain. One of my children solicits advice. The other does not want advice. What do you do when you see your adult children making choices you think are wrong? They believe they are invincible. They also believe that their parents do not want them to have any fun. Young adults believe, “parents just do not understand.” How do you get a young adult to listen to your well- meaning advice? When will they stop having negative reactions to the advice given by parents? I ask my daughters if they want to hear my suggestions. If they say “no” or “not really” I just keep my suggestions to myself. Usually, they will bring the subject back up at a later time and ask for my advice. Sometimes they use my suggestions and sometimes they do not. It is hard to be patient and let them make their own decisions. At times, they have to learn from their own mistakes just like we did. Experience is not always the best teacher, but it can be a painful teacher for young adults. Parents give advice because we do not want to see our children make mistakes. There are some positive things we can do to parent our young adult children:
1)      Pray, Pray, and Pray.
2)      Do not let them use you for financial support. This will make them more financially-independent and resilient than their friends who have parents to lean on.
3)      Be an ally and just listen.
4)      Do not offer advice every time you talk to them. Let them ask for it.
5)      Do not try to be there best friend, be the parent.
6)      Offer support and encouragement.
Just remember young adults are still going through a great deal of changes. They are possibly still in college, forming intimate relationships, or going to work. Young adults usually want to make these decisions on their own, after all they are now “grownup.”


  1. Susan,

    At work (Southeast Kansas Mental Health Center) we are constantly telling the kids "Adults have been there, done that. That is why they are telling/asking you to do something."

    However, I know that I am in the same life stage as one of your daughters, and I know how difficult it is to listen to advice at this point in time.

    A constant struggle I have with my dad is him telling me how to do something. I have recently taken the approach of, "Just because I don't do something your way, doesn't mean that it isn't right." He usually responds with, "This way is easier though."

    I definitely agree with everything that you said; however, this is one of those topics (for me at least) that is "Do as I say, not as I do."

    Holli Mason

  2. I think this is great parenting advise. Although I am not a parent, this is an area my mom and I butt heads a lot. I know that she means well and just doesn't want to see me make mistakes but this would be a great post for her to read so she could see it could benefit for her to back off sometimes! :)
    Jill Fritter