As your young adult children move into the world, we’ve identified three areas you’ll want to focus on:
First, accept your adult child even when he or she disagrees with your values or opinions. Every young adult questions at least some of the ideas you’ve taught and modeled—it’s part of establishing independence. If your family is loyal to one political party, don’t be surprised if at the next election, your daughter goes out of her way to tell you why she voted for the other party.
She’s finding her own space apart from you, and very likely, she has good reasons for the things she is saying. If you can find the humility to admit it, she may be closer to the truth than you are in some instances.
The stage of Reflection is a time for dialogue-maybe even healthy, respectful debate—two adults stating their own cases, but trying to understand the other person first. As in all stages of fathering, active listening demonstrates respect and value.
Second, be a supply and support station. Show your adult child that even though he has moved on to adulthood and independence, the door is still open at home.
Maybe it’s inviting them for a home-cooked meal, letting them use your washer and dryer, or even helping out with a down payment on a car. But more importantly, you’re there to give encouragement and advice (if they ask for it) in matters of vocation, marriage, and finances.
The hard part is knowing what is appropriate and healthy—after all, it isn’t good to hand them everything. Look at the purpose behind your support. Are you trying to make their lives too easy, or are you honestly helping them establish their independence? Young adults take ownership and responsibility for things they have worked to get. It takes some real discernment on your part.
Finally, share your experiences with other dads. Think about your younger days as a father. Were there times when you wished for a sympathetic ear? Or maybe just a simple piece of advice? As a father in the stage of Reflection, your wise counsel can make all the difference in the world for a younger man.