What it takes to nurture healthy adult children

Marian and I just finished dinner at a restaurant with my son Justin and his fiancé Brandy. A few weeks ago we double dated with my daughter Candace and her husband Joshua. In January I will visit my son Jordan who lives in Arizona. It’s hard to imagine my kids as adults. Time moves so rapidly! I enjoy watching my kids find their way in adulthood. They face challenges. Plans do not always unfold neatly. I see them struggle at times. Part of me wants to step in and take charge. Yet, I step back and watch, ready when called upon, but trusting their ability to problem-solve their way through–just like my parents taught me. As a divorced parent I often feared my kids would become screwed up adults. Some of those years were really tough. Turbulence so severe I didn’t know if any of us would survive. Somehow we did. Today I feel so blessed to see my kids strive to be healthy adults. They are far from perfect. Neither am I. But they have a good core. This is key to raising healthy adult children. Help them develop a good core. I would like to share with you three simple suggestions from my experience on what it takes to raise healthy adult children. I am going to refrain from the obvious things you’ve heard before (love them unconditionally) and focus on the less familiar.
No matter what, don’t neglect or abandon your kids
Healthy child development is nurtured in parental bonding. This includes dads and moms! A rhythm of bonding behaviors establishes trust in the core of your children. Trust is fundamental to development. If your kids don’t trust you to give them security, they will form a basic mistrust of people in general. In the early years, I was in my kids lives all the time. I attended events, coached teams, played basketball in our driveway with their friends. After divorce, my time with them was limited. For me, it was chronic emotional pain. However, I determined to stay in their life as much as possible even if at times it felt peripheral. Parents, be careful that you do not allow careers, household responsibilities, or the activities of your kids rob you of the quality time they need with you. Slow down and enjoy nurturing the relationship.
If you say you have values or beliefs then live them
Nothing worse than being a hypocrite to your children. Words have a diminished value if they are not supported by actions. Be true to your word. Don’t promise your children something you cannot deliver. Kids are influenced more by cultural messages streaming through media portals and their peers. You have your work cut out for you. [Tweet “Nothing worse than being a hypocrite to your children. Words have a diminished value if they are not supported by actions”] I also believe kids are starving for leadership. Be a hero by being consistent in your words and actions. When they enter adulthood they will trust the proven guidance they see in you. My son Justin was talking wedding plans with me the other day. He stated that he and Brandy are working hard on saving money. I treasure what he said next, “I remember those things you taught me growing up. It feels good.”
Encourage them to find their voice
Within the core of an individual is a voice. I’m not being literal here. What I mean is kids need to be able to express themselves without fear of disapproval or shame. A parent who constantly corrects or criticizes a child, injures their spirit. Encourage your kids to express their thoughts and feelings. Do not be quick to interrupt because you don’t agree with what you hear. Let them finish. Validate them by conveying understanding. Afterwards give your input. I like what the Bible says, “Be quick to listen. Slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” From the time I was a young parent I always tried to encourage my kids to use their voice. Even recently when talking separately with each my adult kids I listened as they processed decisions they are facing. Only after they finished did I ask them if I could shed some additional light. I was impressed by how little I had to offer. As adults they show me they get it. They are figuring things out. Confidence emerges from the core.

Now it’s your turn

What do you do to nurture healthy adult children? I would love to hear your suggestions! Feel free to post a comment below or on one of my social media sites listed here.
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