Parenting - Adult Children

I have an 18-year-old living in my household who thinks that she’s grown so she does not have to abide by the rules or accept any discipline that we give her. We don’t know how to deal with it other than to put her out, and we don’t think that’s the right thing to do either. So my husband and I are at a loss as to what to do.

Well, that’s a tough situation. When somebody’s eighteen years old, then they are a legal adult. And the fact is that have to establish rules and establish authority in your home that are absolutely uncompromising. You have to write them down. You have to say, “Here are the rules. Here’s the way we live. Here’s what we do as a family. Here’s what we do as Christians. Here’s what we do as people, in this household.”

Everywhere anybody goes there are always rules. There are rules in a dormitory at college. There are rules in school. There are rules at a business. There are rules in a company. There are rules in government. There are rules in prison. The fact is there are rules everywhere. You have to abide by the rules that govern that particular institution that you are receiving your care from.

If she’s receiving her care from you, her institution is your family. Your family is a God-ordained institution and organization and you have to be able to establish rules and she has to be able to follow those rules. And there have to be consequences to breaking those rules that are consistent. You can’t change the rules all the time; the rules and consequences have to be consistent.

You need to make things perfectly clear to her. Tell her you love her and you want her to stay with you, but tell her, “Here are the rules from this point on, there’s new sheriff in town, this is the way that it’s going to be.” And then, if she doesn’t want to abide by those rules, then you have to let her go.

Again, it comes down to very simply explaining, “These are the rules that the people in this family follow. And if you don’t want to follow these rules, you are eighteen years old, and you have every right to go make your own household and make your own rules. We don’t want you to do that. We would rather you follow the rules that we’re setting up, but these are the rules. And once you follow them and once you’re willing to follow the rules of this family, and willing to follow them no matter what, then we’ll let you be a part of the process of making some of the rules. But only when you demonstrate that you can follow the rules that your father and I have already made.”

That’s how you establish authority in your house. That’s how you give her a sense of hope that if she follows what you establish she will eventually have some influence in it. But she can’t have influence in it if she she’s not willing to yield completely to the rules you have right now.

Parenting - Adult Children

My daughter who is 21 has started to do things that are of the world. Up to this point she had been saved and a Christian. When she was about 20, she got involved with a young man, and began failing in school and doing things that were totally not of God. I am concerned about her salvation. I don’t know what to do, can you help me with this?

Well, just pray for her. You need to commit her into the hands of God. She is old enough to make up her own mind. God loves people enough to let them make the choices they make, whether those choices are good or bad. He respects us. He let’s us make those choices. He let’s us make those decisions.

I strongly urge you to cast the care of this upon the Lord and turn it over to Him. Embrace your daughter and tell her you love her and you are with her and you are there for her. You don’t endorse her lifestyle, but you let her know that you love her to pieces and you will do anything to help her. Let her know you will always be there for her. Turn her over into the hands of God and let God deal with her. Don’t ever stop praying and thanking God for her salvation.

Parenting - Adult Children

My daughter is dating an Irish guy. I recently found out that he is a pagan worshipper and I can tell that she is kind of impressed by that. Should I try to break them up or is this something that is just satisfying her curiosity?

Your daughter is your stewardship before the Lord and you are responsible for her and her future as long as she is under your care in your household. While she is living with you, you have to be ultimately responsible for the decisions she makes. When she is on her own, she is responsible for the decisions she makes.

It’s important to instill in your daughter the values that you stand by. So, first, you need to make sure that the Word of God is the final authority and the base for your life.

Second, you need to make sure that the Word of God is the final authority and the base for your daughter’s life. If your base is just in a denomination or a religion, then you don’t really have a base that you can build a life upon. The foundation has to be the Word of God. If you have any foundation other than the Bible, then it’s going to crumble when the test comes.

As long as you have this base and she has a base, then you go to this young man and say, “This is the foundation of how we live. If you can live this way and want to live for God, then you are a candidate to date my daughter. But if you don’t want to live this way, then just tell me now.”

But you’ve first got to explain all that to your daughter and get her on board and get her going in the right direction. Sometimes we want to bring rules upon our children when we haven’t instilled into them principles that they need to base their life upon, so it’s important that you establish those principles first – before you start telling them that they can’t do this and they can’t do that. Without the underlying principles, you’re only giving your children rules and regulations and legalism and they won’t catch the spirit behind what you are talking about.

Parenting - Adult Children

My concern is I feel like my daughter is pulling away from the Lord and getting more into her friends and into things that are away from the church. She’s 20 yrs old. And I don’t want to give her a guilt trip. Sometimes I’m telling her to get back to the things of the Lord. She hasn’t totally abandoned it, but she doesn’t seek Him out like she used to. She used to be more involved. She still prays. She’s not out there doing anything bad, but she’s just not into Him and I feel like her outside friends who are not Christians are becoming a greater influence.

I would sit down with her and I would first start by saying, “Look, I love you. I’ll always love you. I’m here for you. But you’re sowing bad seeds in your life and you’re going to get a bad harvest.” That’s not a guilt trip.

People need to realize according to Genesis 8:22 that as long as the earth remains, there will be seedtime and harvest. The people we hang around, the decisions we make, those are all seeds. We’re going to get a harvest from those things. Let your daughter know that you are concerned about the kind of harvest that she’s building up in her life.

Sit down with her, have a heart-to-heart talk with her and then cast the care of it upon the Lord, release it into God’s hands and let her know that you trust that she’ll eventually make the right decisions. You want to encourage her to begin making the right decisions now. You don’t judge her or condemn her, but you point out the bad seeds she’s sowing and you encourage her to sow good seeds so she can get a good harvest.

Parenting - Adult Children

My child, who is a young adult is staying in my home with me. How much help should a parent give when an adult child who is staying with them? This child is over the age of 18 and is not working or can’t find a job and has had problems with drugs in the past. Right now, I’m just confused.

First of all, mercy is an attitude. It’s the spirit in which we treat people. It’s the humility and the humble disposition that we have towards people and the forgiveness that we extend to them. That doesn’t mean that we let people do whatever they want and take advantage of us.

In a situation where you have an adult child that is living with you that is not willing to work, who can’t get a job, and who has problems with drugs that could affect your other children, then you have to create clear boundaries on what is acceptable and what isn’t. Make it clear, put it on a piece of paper, show it to them and say, “Are you willing to agree to these terms for you to stay here with me?”

You make the guidelines strict and you make them serve what you believe is in the best interest of him and the rest of your family. And if he’s willing to abide by those, then give him a time-frame, maybe 3 months or 2 months or whatever, and then you’ve got to get a job and move out on your own.

Never take somebody into your home without a time frame that is understood by both parties. If it’s not an exact date, it should be as exact as you can be. But too often, people overstay their welcome because we weren’t clear with what we were doing to help them. Say, “Look, I want to help you, son. I want to work with you. But here are the boundaries and here’s the time-frame in which we need to get this done so that you can get on with your life and this family can get on with its life as well.”