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

The road to influence ...

Some more thoughts on #8 of my Top 10 List for Parenting Young Adults ...

#8 - LISTEN!

Now, here's the truth: We parents of young adults have some wisdom; the hard-earned kind, the kind that comes from livin' life. It is a good thing to want to share some of that wisdom with the humans we love, the humans we have raised.

The problem comes with how we think we should dispense that wisdom. Too often, we want to offer it on our timeline. Thus, it falls on deaf ears.

Which is really too bad.

What to do?

Influence - the offering of wisdom, advice and guidance - is found, I believe, at the end of a road paved with listening, asking open-ended, genuinely curious questions and deep investment in the lives of our young adult chlidren.

Let me explain:

As your child makes the transition to young adulthood and beyond, change your listening to speaking ratio to about 10:1.

Ask your growing-up kid about all the things they are interested in and showing passion for.

And ask in light-hearted, curious, gentle, genuine ways!

"Tell me more about  .........."

"What kinds of things are you reading these days?"

"Can you teach me what you are learning about ..........?"

"That is so cool! I wish I had pursued that when I was your age. What are you loving the most about ............?"

And then, invest in their lives! Make time to visit them, wherever they live. Include them in group texts. Send them a care package just because. Learn about their friends, and love them no matter what. Budget well enough that you can take them out to dinner, include them in your vacations, if possible. Simply be available and show up in their lives. Even if they seem a tad irritated by your presence. Trust me, if you play your cards right, this investment will pay off.

When you do show up, remember ... shut up.

Listen, Learn, Love ...

And one day ... at the end of the road of listening, asking and investing ... they just might ask you for your advice.

Nirvana ...

Listen ...

Still working my way through my top 10 list about parenting young adults ...

Now, turning my attention to point #8 - Listen (or try to become a good listener)

This seems to me, based on conversations I had after my teaching on this topic, to be one of the hardest things for parents of fresh young adults to do.

We are still in advice-giving mode too often.

We want to just tell our grown-up kiddos how to live, how to avoid mistakes, and how to become like us!

When we do this, we lose them. Sometimes figuratively, sometimes literally.

We will explore this more in days to come, but may I just plead with parents for a moment?

If there is one thing you can work on that might dramatically alter the relational dynamic you have with your adult children it is learning to listen, listen, listen.

When they approach you and choose to share with you anything about their lives, will you decide in advance that your default mode will be to listen for a long time before you even speak a word?

And when you speak a word, can you determine beforehand that it will be a question rather than a statement?

Will you ask questions to help you understand more deeply what your child is saying?

Will you ask questions that encourage them to say more, to go deeper, to give you more insight into their life?

I dare you to try this.

Shelve your advice. Stop with giving your opinions. Don't judge or assume or presume.

Simply listen, ask a couple friendly, curious, open-ended questions and see what happens.

Your young adult will be shocked and amazed and may even talk with you for longer than 5 minutes.

And here's a fun podcast to listen to if you want to hear more of my thoughts on this: Friends and Family podcast

Be honest about $$ ...

One last bit of writing on point #9 in my Top 10 List for Parenting Adult Children ... Be Honest.

Be honest with your adult children about failures, struggles, mistakes and confusion from your own life journey.

It helps them to not feel so alone or lost as they navigate the rough waters of young adulthood.

One particular area where it might be good and healthy to be honest with your adult kids is around money.

Our eldest daughter said to us,

"Thank you for being honest about the times you struggled with money. Thank you for sometimes talking about your budget in front of us. For letting us know, as we got more mature, that we all needed to tighten our belts for various seasons in our family's life. Thank you for letting us help you choose where to give money at the end of the year. Thank you for sitting at the dining room table and talking with each other about how much money you wanted to give away on an annual basis."

She continued by saying,

"All of this honesty let me know that money is an ok thing to have hard conversations about. And, it let me know that even though I feel I am not that good with budgeting, I know I can come to you guys for help in the future and you will both understand my situation and have the experience to help me without judging."

This spoke volumes to me.

If you can (because I realize for some of us talking honestly about money is the hardest thing) ...

So, if you can, work on being more honest with your young adults about money, budgeting, giving and hardship.

It is important for them as they launch out into the world.

They need to know it is ok to be honest about money. It is ok to struggle. It is ok to have hard conversations. It is ok to budget. And it is really, really important to be generous in thoughtful ways.

Be honest.

It'll do your kids a world of good.

P.S. Please notice I did not say anything like:

Lecture your young adults about money ...

or

Tell your young adults how they need to budget ...

or

Inform your adult children that they need to tithe to the church or God will be mad at them ...

Do not, for the love of God, flip over into advice-giving mode (unless they beg for it) or this whole ship will go down.