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

No guilt over holidays ...

I was talking with my parents the other day about this idea of not using guilt in our relationships, especially the relationships between parents and grown children.

My mom, who happened to be in a hospital bed at the moment with wicked bronchitis, perked up when the topic of parents using guilt arose.

She gathered what little breath she had and said:

"Tell parents to especially not use guilt around the holidays! Make sure that they know to let go of traditions when necessary and to not demand that their grown kids show up when they always have shown up in the past. Let your grown kids know that you would LOVE to have them for Christmas (or Easter, or Thanksgiving, or Groundhog Day) but that if they can't make it this year, or if they can only come for a few hours, or part of a day ... that is JUST FINE!"

She said she had watched many parents her age use guilt especially around holiday gatherings and she thought it was so destructive.

I can testify to the fact that my parents have never used guilt or manipulation to try to get us to spend time with them.

Even around the holidays.

One Thanksgiving when all the rest of our family traveled to Chicago for our annual big turkey day celebration, my folks had to stay home because my mom had just had a hip replacement. They happily bid us farewell, ordered a full Thanksgiving meal from Hy-Vee and settled in for a great weekend of feasting and watching old movies. They couldn't have been happier and more content.


Don't use guilt around the holidays ...

It will always backfire ...

Give your grown children the freedom to decide when, where and how to celebrate as they become adults.

My bet is, if you offer them grace-filled freedom, they will very often find their way home!



If not guilt, what?

Point #7 in my Top Ten List for Parenting Young Adults is No Guilt.

Do not try to make your kids feel guilty about the amount of time they spend or don't spend with you.

It doesn't work.

"Ok," you might say ... "If I can't use guilt, what do I do instead? What if my adult child never calls or never visits and I wish they did? Then what?"

Well, call me crazy, but what about simply expressing your heartfelt desire to see or hear from them more often?

Radical, I know.

But so hard for so many of us! 


I think it is because we are scared of being hurt. We are frightened we might open our hearts up, be vulnerable and have our newly formed adult stomp right on our tender emotions.

And that very well may happen. It really might.

But, isn't being honest with them in a friendly, non-demanding, non-manipulative way worth the risk?

Who wouldn't want to hear, "I like you. I wish I could see you a little more. I hope we can talk just a little bit more. I want to know a little bit more about your life. It is interesting to me?" 

Here's the thing though: If our child says, "No," to our request, we must be open to asking them what we might be doing that causes them to deny our request for more time.

Are we willing to hear the truth? Even if it hurts?

Mom, you give too much advice ...

Dad, you never really listen to me. All you do is talk about fishing, or your own job ...

You aren't kind to my boyfriend ...

You complain about my apartment and how dirty it is. That makes me feel bad ...

You call at all the wrong times ...

Parents, this is hard stuff. And I know nothing is cut and dry. No two situations are alike.

I also know guilt is a terrible motivator. Being honest is hard. Truth often hurts.

But isn't the potential for an honest, open relationship with our adult kids worth the risk?

No guilt ...

Moving on the #7 of my Top 10 List for Parents of Adult Kids ...

#7 - No Guilt!

Parents, do not make your adult children feel guilty about how much time they spend with you.

Guilt never works.

It almost always creates the opposite of the desired outcome.

Trying to induce guilt is a passive-aggressive way of communicating. It is childish. It is cynical.

It pushes your children away from you.

Don't do it. Ever.

That's all I have for now.

Listening is too dangerous ...

One final thought about listening in the journey of parenting adult kids ...

Carl Rogers, a great twentieth century psychotherapist wrote:

"The great majority of us cannot listen; we find ourselves compelled to evaluate, because listening is too dangerous. The first requirement is courage, and we do not always have it."

Why are we tempted to evaluate, rather than listen to, our adult kids?

What is so dangerous about listening?

Why does listening require courage?

And why don't we have the kind of courage needed?

I am not going to answer those questions for you.

Ponder them yourself.

And in your pondering, may you wander right into the answers.

And may your answers lead you to have the courage needed to listen to your adult child, no matter how dangerous it feels.