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?

Tags: Called to Community, Living Gratefully, Living Truthfully, Living Hospitably, Developing a Rule of Life