Loyalty to our Adult Children

She is your idol.

You don’t think your kids do any wrong.

You always take the side of your kids.


These and other remarks that were meant to hurt me still remind me of a cardinal rule of parenting adult children:



Be assured that
* They will mess up
* They will embarrass you
* They will fail to pay you back the money you loaned them
* They will hurt a sibling or close friend
* They will revert (hopefully temporarily) to their teen years and humiliate you
* They will make HUGE mistakes and EPIC FAILS
* They might lie about the huge mistakes and epic fails

They may do all these things on the SAME DAY

But one thing is SURE:
They will do these things less and recover quicker if they know you have their back.

Will they deserve your loyalty?
Did they have to earn your love?

The answer to both of those questions should be a LOUD “ABSOLUTELY NOT!”

When I was growing up we had a phone on the wall (ANCIENT HISTORY LESSON FOR THE DAY…yep, a real life artifact of a lost culture) and next to the phone a sign read, “People need love the most when they deserve it the least.”



As a ‘good girl teenager’ I thought that was outrageous! I thought when my brothers deserved love the least they needed a spanking—not love. I was wrong about a lot of things back then…including what my brothers needed from my folks.

I could never understand how my mom and dad loved my misguided siblings even more when they showed their misguided ways to the world.


Then I became a mom and it all made more sense.

Loyalty means nothing unless it has at its heart the absolute principle of self-sacrifice.
Woodrow T. Wilson

Does it cost us to be loyal to our adult children? Absolutely.

As I was writing this I thought of so many stories when one of my friends (or a friend of my adult children) questioned why I had made a certain decision about one of my kids. These well-meaning, good-willed persons wanted me to throw my kids under the bus—although that was not the language they used. They simply wanted “some clarity” or “a little more understanding” about a situation my kids were involved in.

Honestly, I started writing three different stories that showed how loyalty to my kids had cost me some friendship credit with my girlfriends. But then, I deleted them.

The cost of my loyalty to my kids is not something I need to brag about—or even declare to the world. AND YOU DON’T NEED TO JUSTIFY YOURS EITHER.

Just like we would not have traded our toddler’s antics and fits in the middle of the restaurant for someone else’s, we wouldn’t trade our adult kids’ stories and CRAZY with anyone else either—so breathe.

The cost of my loyalty is similar to last weekend when I was taking homemade pizza to my daughter- in- love so we could spend time admiring my four-month old grandson. When she reminded me to leave the cheese off her half (baby reacts to dairy!) I remarked, “Oh, the things we give up for our kids!” Her immediate response, “Totally worth it!”


Giving up the high opinion of a few friends, or even (as happened to me years ago) losing a friend to stay loyal to your children… is totally worth it.

If loyalty is, and always has been, perceived as obsolete, why do we continue to praise it? Because loyalty is essential to the most basic things that make life livable. Without loyalty there can be no love. Without loyalty there can be no family. Without loyalty there can be no friendship. Without loyalty there can be no commitment to community or country. And without those things, there can be no society.
Eric Felten

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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