Raising Grown Children-Detaching with Love

Teenage girl rolling eyes with shoulder turned away from angry mother in background

Parenting Adult Children

When I hear mothers I coach talk about how their grown children are taking advantage of them it breaks my heart and it troubles me. Grown children are past the stage of a time out. You can’t ground them or take away their television privileges. They are making their own decisions and there is little, if anything, you can do about it.

I have three grown children and my husband also has three grown children. Not one of them is like the other. Each has their distinct personality and has established a family in their own way. Our advice when offered is heard once in a while, at least by most of the six. We have fifteen grandchildren and as we watch them grown up it is difficult not to give advice. Accepting that each one of them is free to make their choices and then live with the results is hard, especially since we think we could make it easier for them.

The best time for raising grown children is before they are grown. When they are still under your roof and care, you can influence them. If they return home as adults the situation gets very sticky. As of 2010, census estimates indicate that 5.9 million people between the ages of 25 and 35 were living at home, an increase of more than 25 percent since the downturn began. For the purpose of this article, however, I’m considering grown children who no longer live with you.

Detaching with love is no easy thing. It is important to remember that you are not detaching because you don’t care. You are detaching to take care of yourself.

I like this entry from Courage to Change: “I do not wish to interfere with anyone’s opportunities to discover the joy and self-confidence that can accompany personal achievements. If I am constantly intervening to protect them from painful experiences, I also do them a great disservice. As Mark Twain said, ‘A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way.’”

Respect for our grown children requires that we allow them to live their lives and not take from them the opportunities to succeed or fail as the case may be. Detachment is about freedom—for you and for the child. This is your time in life when you are free to focus on yourself.

Khalil Gibran’s poem, “Children” says it so well.

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

Share your experiences with us.

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Gail in purple speaking with hand gesturesI hold a degree from Lamar University in Speech and a Master’s from the University of Texas. I was an educator in regular and special education for twenty years, finishing my professional career as a Braille teacher. I am a Certified Professional Coach with Fowler International Academy.
I married Sam after raising three children as a single mother.
In 2007 I founded SMORE for Women. SMORE is a nonprofit association whose goal is Single Moms, Overjoyed, Rejuvenated, & Empowered. My stories have been published in several Christian books and magazines. My book, Living Learning Loving, published in July 2015, is available for purchase on CreateSpace, Amazon, or Barnes & Noble online.

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