SHEPHERDING OUR YOUNG ADULT CHILDREN
by John Clark
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Parenting should not stop just because our grown children leave home. We should be proactive in helping them make this important transition, helping guide them into a career path, and helping their lives become stable, emotionally, financially, and spiritually. We should seek to shepherd our older(and younger) children in much the same way as God shepherds His children. This can be done without intruding into their lives, through prayer, time spent with them, our talk, and taking proactive action when necessary. The main focus of what I am referring to as young adults is the 18-25 age group. This would be from about the senior year in high school up until the time when they are through college, maybe getting married, and getting settled in life.
Here are some important considerations:
Call them on a regular basis, every week possibly, but at least once a month, just to see how things are going. This also tells them that you truly care. If they are within easy driving distance visit them on a regular basis.
When you are visiting or calling them ask some key questions. Is there something that has gone really well for you this past week or month? Is there something that has been disappointing? Did you make some things happen? If they have not yet decided upon a career path or are thinking about changing careers, ask them what they think they really, really, want to do with their life? Make it clear to them that you want them to do what they believe is best for themselves, not what they think you, as their parents, want or expect them to do. Ask them if they have a pretty good idea of what their strengths and unique abilities are. What do they like about themselves? What specific steps are they taking to move forward with their life?
Here are some questions to ask yourself, as a parent, as you are asking them questions and getting a feel for how your grown children are handling life. How are they thinking about themselves? How are they dealing with failure? Are they passively just accepting what life is throwing at them or are they going after what they want with a clearly defined goal or purpose? Are they hanging around with the right kind of people or getting involved in the wrong kind of activities?
Don't be critical or judgmental of what they are doing with their life, unless you have good reason to believe that they are heading down a destructive path. If you are critical or judgmental they may not want to visit with you, or talk to you on the phone. This is also important if you want them to be open and honest with you. Be a safe haven where they won't feel the need to hold back if things are not progressing well in some area of life.
Speak positive declarations and blessings over their life. Be an encourager. Here is an example of a positive declaration. "You are going to see things work out. You are going to identify your gifts and see God use you in a mighty way. God is going to bring your life into clear focus and make your steps sure."
Pray for them regularly, in the morning or before you go to bed. You might consider always including them in your prayers before your meals together.
Recognize warning signs for conditions like depression, low self-esteem, or anger, or some type of addiction, when you are talking or visiting with them. If you sense that any of this is happening it may be time to take some action. These are not areas that you can leave to chance. Something must be done. Encourage them to do something about it. If they do not then maybe you need to get them into counseling, anger management, or whatever else is necessary to deal with their issues.
Last, but certainly not least, is to affirm them, encourage them to identify their unique spiritual giftedness, and celebrate their victories and successes.
Remember this: It is a lot easier to build good young people than to fix broken older adults later. HAPPY PARENTING TO ALL OF US WHO HAVE YOUNG ADULT CHILDREN.
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