The challenge of parenting adult children

Our daughter has safely arrived in Nepal and by all reports, is already having a great time 🙂


Watching her walk under that ‘departure’ sign by herself was a very hard parenting moment. But we did it! Waiting to hear from her after the plane had landed that she was with staff and at the hotel was a very long two hours. But we did it!

In the lead up to her trip, the various responses about it to us as parents has been interesting to say the least. We’ve had people look at us like we are the most irresponsible parents in the world, others who just shake their heads and say they wouldn’t allow their child to do it, those who’ve just said they wouldn’t be able to do it, and those few who thought it was fantastic.

I chatted it over with a wise and wonderful friend of mine and worried that if something happened to her, and we knew we could have stopped her going, we would never forgive ourselves. She said, “Stopping her from going would have been an abuse of your parental power.”

That gave me so much comfort in the days before her flight. Although we probably could have talked her out of it (I think!), there is no way we should have. Whenever we’re given the privilege of an invitation by our adult children to weigh in on their decision making, we need to be mindful that it is just that – a privilege. We don’t have any right to say what they should do once grown. We need to give them that unconditional love – regardless of whether that decision is going to make us uncomfortable by stressing us or causing us to worry.

We’ve already had a bit of practice with this, since our 24 year old son will never, ever have a nice safe job in an office and a house in the suburbs five doors down from us. He has always sought an ‘unsafe’ life and has never shied away from doing ‘the hard thing’ either. Not that he is reckless or risk-taking for the sake of it, quite the opposite. His decisions are calculated and thoughtful. But they are not ‘safe’ from a parental perspective.

Too often we view our children as possessions, something to be proud of and shown off to our friends. And we are far too often worried about how their decisions affect us, rather than them.

We need to take a step back sometimes and check where we are coming from. Are we advising them based on our fears or their best life, whatever that may look like?

Our children are not ‘ours’. They are their own. And the more we realise that, the more peace we will have, no matter what they decide to do or where they decide to go to do it.

7 thoughts on “The challenge of parenting adult children

    • Whilst I agree and thank you for the compliment 🙂 credit also goes to the kids – we give them the tools and skills, they have to decide to use them 🙂 Hope you’re having an okay day today, I still can’t ever leave a comment on your blog but I read every post and pray for you and your wife daily x


  1. I agree on every level – as parents we have to let them live their own lives, but sometimes it is so hard to watch them go. My daughter (22) went to work on a lion rehabilitation project in Zimbabwe two years ago, and my son (25) is just back from a year of exploring life in South America. Both experiences have enriched their lives, and I’ve just had to learn to stop holding my breath. All the best for your daughter in Nepal!


    • Definitely hard to watch them go! What fabulous things for your kids to do 🙂 And I agree, learning to just trust and relax is something I know will get easier with practice but not sure if I’ll ever be done learning to do it!
      We keep saying to our youngest who is nearly 12 – what are you going to go off and do, fly to the moon?? 😉


  2. I’m just catching up (again) on blog reading and thought it interesting that I just wrote about parenting adult children. I think it’s a tougher job than parenting them when they’re younger. I love what your friend told you – it is a privilege and not our right to impose our will. More discomfort. Sigh.

    I’m so curious, what does your son do?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “Whenever we’re given the privilege of an invitation by our adult children to weigh in on their decision making, we need to be mindful that it is just that – a privilege.” Very well said! I only hope I can keep that foremost in my mind once my kids are at that stage. Love your blog 🙂


    • I’m sure you will be Julie 🙂 Seems to me you’re doing pretty well so far!
      And right back atcha – I’m loving your blog even though I’m struck green with jealousy every time I read about your new farm life 🙂 x

      Liked by 1 person

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