Motivating our Adult Children

Motivation means inspiring others to be what they were created to be… especially if they are our children.

John Maxwell tells the story of the man who, walking home late one night, took a short cut through a grave yard. Little did he know that a new grave had been dug that day. In the dark, the man fell into a deep newly dug grave.  After an hour of trying to dig his way out he finally lie down and took a nap. Sure enough, a second man coming home late made the same mistake and falls into the same open grave. As expected, the second man tries and tries to claw his way out of the grave. Waking the other man in the grave, he hears someone say, “Give up! It’s no use trying to get out of here.” Immediately, the second man bounded out of the grave!

What was the difference: the power of motivation. 

Two of my sons who were ‘late readers.’ I take all the blame. I loved reading to them! Naturally, WHY would they need to struggle to do something that someone else LOVED doing for them?
Both guys became motivated in upper grade school and began reading like scholars. Both young men graduated two years early from high school and went on to receive college degrees in record time. The oldest has received a masters’ degree and the youngest is currently enrolled in law school.

MOTIVATION made the difference.

Teddy and John  both participating in motivating Trace at Trace’s “Becoming a Man of Influence 13th Birthday Bash. Of course, Brandy is ALWAYS along for the ride!
You may be asking how can I motivate my adult child to… get a job? Move out? Take seriously his commitments? Finish what she started?


You have to BELIEVE in your child and SPEAK affirmations! Your words have power! Are you encouraging—NOT FLATTERING? 
YOU MUST TRULY believe in them.
Ask to see your children through God’s eyes…THEN SPEAK THAT VISION! Do not waste your words on small encouragement such as, “You make a mean barbecue!”  Speak words of significance into your children:
You are doing so much so well! God is really going to use your company to bless others!
Son, God is going to use all this education for His Glory and the benefit of mankind! You are going to change the world!
You are the kindest person in dealing with those young children. No wonder everyone wants you to be their Nanny!
Your skill and humility are the perfect leadership combo for this job. What a blessing you are to these people you are working with!
Focus on their character and gifts. Touch their heart before you ask for their hand in accomplishments.  They ARE STILL THOSE TINY HUMANS God gifted to you as a parent.


Do you want your children to do the hard things? Then, accept someone else’s challenge for you! STRUGGLE in front of your kids!  If you are want your adult children to take more of an interest in their health… yep, you gotta join the gym. Want them to finish their degree? Take some continuing ed classes.  MODEL for your children what you want them to accomplish.

LASTLY, (and this is my favorite!)


Nahum and Sophia have heard LOTS of stories about their dad in this room!


My favorite activity with my grandchildren is tucking them in at night and telling LOTS of stories of when their parents were young.
I love retelling how brave their daddy acted, when (at eight years old!) he refused to allow me, HIS MOTHER, to put out signs stating our address. I was trying to help someone relocate their lost dog that we had found. John did not want me to be unprotected while his dad was out of town.  A reputation to protect those you care about.
There is the story of their mom (my daughter) who was the youngest in her gymnastics class and worked for weeks to do a back flip even after the older girls had moved on, just because she would not give up. A reputation of determination!  
Motivation  means inspiring others to be what they were created to be… especially if they are our children. 

Author: Dr. Johnnie K. Seago

Johnnie Seago is a national conference speaker who is passionate about building leadership in families. As the mother to eight adult children, she desires families to learn to connect and communicate to build a community of support. She extends her leadership and team building experience to schools, businesses, and civic groups. Johnnie’s messages equip leaders to: Find their strength in the design God used to create them Find their purpose for which God created them Partner with others for support in reaching goals Commit to the dreams God has placed on their heart Become accountable for their success as leaders Johnnie’s ministry to families includes: Helping families transition from childhood to adulthood Teaching parents to communicate with their adult children Working through difficult situations as teens become adults Providing resources and ideas for productive grand-parenting Johnnie and her husband, Ted has been married for 40 years. They live in the suburbs of Houston, Texas on a lake where they enjoy boating and water sports and the occasional day of floating and reading.

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