Journey to Faith

Journey to Faith
Follow your own path

Friday, October 23, 2015

Why You Should Say "No" to Your Adult Children

Grandparents raising their grandkids. Adult children moving back in with their parents. Parents continuing to pay for their grown children's expenses. Thirty and forty year olds still living with Mom. Any of these sound familiar? I see more and more of these situations and it pains me so much I decided to write a post on the issue.

It's normal for parents to want to help out their kids - to a point. After that point, it becomes an issue of enabling. There I said it. As a recovering codependent, it took me many years to learn this lesson. "I'm just trying to help her". "But he's in ______ (you fill in the blank) trouble/jail/rehab again." "He's my son, for heaven's sake. I can't just let him _____".
Yes, I hear you. It is tough to say no to your kids, but at some point, we are no longer helping them, we are preventing them from taking responsibility for their own choices. In reality, we are hindering them from becoming the responsible adults they are intended to be.

This is not a new problem. In fact, it's been around since ancient times. You know how people say the Bible is irrelevant and outdated? Well, let me share a story and then see what you think.

So you probably have heard of David, of David and Goliath fame, yes? You know how he slayed the giant with a slingshot and a few stones and then went on to become king of Israel after many years of being chased by sour grapes king Saul. Well, King David had several sons. One of them, Amnon, raped his half-sister, Tamar. However, the Bible and the Dead Sea scrolls record that although David was angered, he did nothing about it (2 Sam 13:21) "because he loved him as he was his first-born son." So Absalom, another of David's sons, took things into his own hands, and had Amnon murdered. Again, David did nothing. After several years of separation, David allowed Absalom to come back home. And what did Absalom do then? Plot to overthrow his father, the King, that's what. Long story short, it wasn't until David was on his death-bed that he finally had the courage to stand up to his sons and declare Solomon as his heir.

One of the lessons in this timeless story is that even the best of parents can be too lenient on their adult children. Years of dysfunction, hostility, and hatred resulted because David refused to say no to Amnon's behavior. This story is a warning to parents. We must learn to say "No" to our adult children. In other words, we must learn to put our foot down and say "Enough is enough." Mothers are especially guilty of this because we love so much and perhaps, dare I say, we may lack the courage to stand up to the men in our lives.

Here are a few lessons I have learned and for you to consider if you find yourself in a similar situation:
1) Realize our children are adults first, relatives second. Treat your adult child as you would any other non-related adult.
2) Break the habit of saying "Yes" sooner, rather than later.
3) Realize you are enabling your child, rather than helping him/her to grow up.
4) Loving your kids means teaching them responsibility, not dependency.
5) Supportive means emotionally, not financially after age 30 or maybe even sooner.

Sometimes the hardest choices we make have to do with our own family members. But remember what Jesus said when asked who were his brothers and sisters and mother. His reply was "Those who do the will of my Father." Doing the right thing is usually the hardest thing to do.

I'd like to hear your thoughts on this issue. What situation have you encountered when you have said "Yes" when you really should have said "No"? How did you feel after? What can you do differently next time?

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With love and encouragement remember to keep the faith and keep looking up! Everything works for our good.