Whether you turn to the right or to the left,

your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying,

“This is the way; walk in it.”

Isaiah 30:21

Live carefree ...

If I start to become a safe person for my young adult kids to talk to about faith ...

we may end up having some really great conversations, especially if I do more listening than talking.

Especially if I ask curious, friendly, open-ended questions and then shut my mouth and open my ears.

But what if they say things that frighten me? Make me angry? Make me worried for them?

Then what do I do with my anxiety?

Can't I just tell them they are wrong?

Can't I just threaten them with God's anger if they don't believe what I believe?

Can't I try to just manipulate them into going to church? Force them to attend with me on the holidays?

Well ... of course you can do those things.

But the question is why?

Will they be helpful? Will they be encouraging to your adult child's faith? Will these things create a safe place for further conversation? Will doing them make you feel better?

Nope. Nope. Nope. And Maybe ... but only for a bit.

Here's another radical idea about what you can do with your anxiety when it comes to your adult kids' faith:

You can pray.

You can take all that anxiety, worry, frustration, anger, fear ...

wrap it all up into a tangled little bundle of emotion

and you can,

with great confidence,

hand it all to God,

and you can leave it there.

God is not full of anxiety about your kids. He just isn't. So he is far better equipped to handle all your pent-up worry than you are.

Release the lives and faith of your adult kids into God's hands ... and then live a joyful, grace-filled, friendly life with them.

"Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you [and your kids]." (1 Peter 5:7 - The Message - with a little touch from Alice)

How to be safe ...

How can parents create a safe place for adult kids to talk about faith?

First of all, I have learned anything I think I know the hard way. :)

Second of all, we all need to relax!

God loves our children and understands that faith development is a journey often filled with winding roads, dangerous curves, cul de sacs and dead ends.

If our maturing kiddos decide to push back on the faith of their childhood, we should practice seeing this as a good thing rather than something to freak out about.

We too often have the idea that if any of us make one wrong move, God is ready and anxious to give us the ax; to cut us off, toss us out.

What a sad and wrong view of God the Good Shepherd.

When our kids start to question things, tell us they don't believe this or that, or profess interest in another religion, rather than panicking, getting mad, defensive or anxious, what if we remained curious, open and calm?

What if we asked questions rather than preaching?

What if we learned what they were learning rather than trying to shut their minds down?

What if we believed God is much, much, much bigger and smarter and wiser than we've ever imagined?

What if we practiced being safe, honest and kind no matter what?

What then?

Be safe about faith ...

Ok, here's a doozy ...

In my Top 10 List for Parents of Adult Children, point #4 is ...

Be safe about faith.

In Christian homes, for some reason, this topic is especially prickly.

Many of us love having little kiddos, who skip happily to church, sing little ditties of the faith, love learning about Jesus, carry their bibles around in cute little book covers and thus give their parents tangible "proof" that the faith is being passed along in good form.

Alas, those little ones grow up. And develop questions. Doubts. Their own opinions, darn them! They become oppositional at times. They no longer ask us what to believe. They start to sing their own songs. Church attendance becomes a battle zone. Jesus an argument.

This can be a scary time for parents for a whole host of reasons.

One of the most toxic sources of fear for Christian parents is the fear that our kids will walk away from our faith.

This fear can make us unsafe when our growing-up kids -- and grown up adult kids -- start to question core truths of the faith. Or when they decide to walk away for a season. Or when they read books or take college courses that push them to challenge views we have simply taken for granted as "true."

When this kind of fear meets normal, young adult faith development, a toxic kind of relationship-killing stew can start to bubble.

I want to spend a few posts here pondering what we can do to become safer people for our young adult kids to talk to about faith. Any part of faith: from doubts to fears to anger to new ideas to old ideas to wrong ideas to atheism to changing denominations to church attendance to ... you name it.

How can you and I become safe? 

How can we keep our fear at bay?

How can we trust our kids' faith development more than our own manipulation of outcomes?

How can we trust the goodness of God to play itself out in the lives of our young adults, rather than allow our anxiety to sit in the driver's seat?

FYI - I don't have the answers to any of these questions ... all I have is the guts to ask them.

More soon ...


Don't take it personally ...

Point #5 in my Top 10 List for Parenting Young Adults is: Don't take it personally ...

These were the exact words of my daughter during our conversation about what young adults wish their parents knew:

"Parents should not react to our decisions about how we choose to live as if they are a personal affront to them and to their choices. Just because we choose to do something differently than our parents did does NOT mean that we are judging them or looking down on their choices.

We are forming our own lives; forging our own paths and choosing our own journeys.

It is very stressful when we make decisions to then feel like our parents are stressed or put off because our decisions do not look like theirs did.

Parents need to not take things so personally."

This felt like both a gentle, but firm, slap in the face and a breath of fresh air at the same time.

Like a slap because I think I had been doing exactly this - looking at my young adult kids' decisions as if they were a direct assessment of my own - which they weren't.

I needed to stop taking their choices personally.

It felt like a breath of fresh air because ... I get to stop taking their choices personally!

What a relief!

I could just enjoy their choices and cheer them on without feeling diminished in any way.

Sounds dumb, like I should have known this ...

But I have never been a parent of young adults before.

I am flying blind.

Thank goodness my kids are kind enough to sit down with me and open my eyes a bit.

Don't take your kids' choices personally.

This will free them up ... and you, too.