Families need rituals to ensure stability and security.

Remember when your kids cried in the night, but tucking them in nice and tight sent the monsters running from the room?

Remember how a warm cup of milk and a band-aid made bleeding stop and boo-boos heal instantly?

Remember when you heard the catch in her voice stop the avalanche of tears in her throat and she decided to stay at summer camp just because you said you would come get her?

Remember how you drove all the way across town to take back the baby doll to your sister’s house so your baby girl would stay at the sleep-over?

These are the memories of our rituals…these are rituals that made the memories.

We never outgrow rituals. 

After I married, we gathered at my Dad’s house every Friday night to grill steaks, debate politics and religion, and catch up. For ten years we never missed Friday night if we were in town. When I was in the throws of terrible moral decisions in my life, I called my Dad and said, “Hey Dad, I am gonna pass on steaks tonight. The kids and I are exhausted so we are gonna stay home.” He didn’t buy it. 

“Johnnie, there are only a few reasons you would miss Friday night and none of them are good. I’ll see you at six.” 

He wasn’t wrong. I brought dessert. 

It’s worth all the trouble to get your brood together to look each other in the eye and say, “I see you. I know you. I love you.”

Rituals might not be all that is needed to save our life.

But they might keep our children, adult or younger, on the path. Rituals make us feel seen. Rituals make us feel known. Rituals make us feel loved. What could be better?

What are the rituals you keep or could build in your adult children to keep them on the path of stability and wholeness? 

The Goal with Adult Children: Culture of Unity

“So what is the point of what you are doing now? What are you going for?”

This conversations was started by a dear friend of mine who has helped me complete lots of projects. She is well aware I “don’t do anything for nothing.” Therefore, this was a very natural question when she learned I had turned my writing and speaking efforts toward the subject of parents to adult children.

The return of lots of my efforts is not monetary but emotional, spiritual, academic, or as in this case: culture changing.

I explained to Julie, and lots of other folks since that day, that I am blogging, filming, writing, speaking, to build a CULTURE OF UNITY.

Our world needs to be a kinder, gentler, more unified place. Change happens slowly, but it does happen. When I reconcile with my adult children, when I build bridges to them, our relationship becomes stronger. When other parents of adult children see how we relate to each other, those folks are encouraged. Hopelessness turns to hope as others see adults and their parents interacting, getting along, and enjoying each other’s company.

I long for the day that the “mother-in-law” jokes cease to be funny because nobody can relate to a bad relationship with in-laws.

You know how gals at the office start the first of November dreading going home for the holidays because of the snooty relatives? Don’t we want that to be ancient history?

Let’s anticipate the time when men and women mark the days off with big red X till they can be with their adult siblings and aging parents again?

The day when the term “prodigal child” means only a TEMPORARY time of growth in a young adult and not a permanent state may happen in my lifetime.

Yes, I may seem overly optimistic about the impact this unifying work will have on moms and dads with their grown children. But like all culture changers: I believe even I can make a difference.

How are you making a difference by building a better relationship with your adult children? I would love to hear from you! Drop a comment below.

Setting Boundaries: Expectations

Can I expect them to come see me on a regular basis?

What can I reasonably ask from them?

Is it ever OK to ask for them to meet our needs?

“Blessed is he who has no expectations because he will never be disappointed.”

On a picture of a sad looking puppy dog, the above quote stated my inner desire for my mother-in-law. Having been in the middle between my gracious old-fashioned MIL and my ambitious husband for over a year, I was torn apart.

On the above plaque, which I gave her for Mother’s Day, I shared my frustration, gave a corrective lesson, and practiced the passive aggressive nature I would exhibit for the next seven years.

My dear MIL had ranted in private to me for 18-months how much her son, my newlywed husband, had ignored and mistreated her. Although, we started our marriage with her loving appreciation–our desires for our future had separated us. Ted’s mom wanted us to buy a small house across the street from her and live a quiet life of predictable behaviors. Our dream included continuing to grow our ministry and businesses, and move to a larger city. My MIL continued to express her disappointment in our lack of sensitivity and loving attention to her.

Setting expectations sets us up for a back-fire of resentment, disappointment, and sorrow.

My MIL was aging. She wanted someone close to love and support her. Her fear of growing older clouded what she normally would have asked of us. I couldn’t see that her unreal expectations were grounded in fear.

I need to see that sometimes my unrealistic expectations are also grounded in fear. Facing my fear of growing older can help me destroy those crazy predictions I have for my adult children.

Someday, our adult children will be our caregivers. Get over it. It is true.

Even though right now they still need our wisdom, financial advice, and physical support by baby-sitting, soon all that will be totally reversed.

Before long, our adult children will aid us with memory care, financial planning, and decisions concerning physical environment and care.

When Ted and I decided to home school, I remember one radical home education friend saying, “If we send them to an institution like the public school now, they will send us to an institution like a nursing home when we are old.”

My response? “REALLY?” I just couldn’t imagine my eight and three-year-old sacking me away in a nursing home! How naively short-sighted I viewed the world.

When would I learn: I will grow old. Eventually my children will either help me make or entirely make decisions concerning my health, wealth, and well-being.

Expectations for my adult children must currently include the expectation that they will be growing, learning, achieving, and planning for their own futures.

When my well-being is in their hands, after all these years of being on the planning and giving end, I know they will be prepared. There is a sense of reverse child-support.

I have supported them and this support equips them to support me. Confidently, I know that they will have my very best interest as their own expectation.

Heavy topic, right? What do you think? I would love your feedback on this perspective of expectations from and for our adult children.

Setting Boundaries: Spouses

I just need to vent! I am not going to leave him!

You told me not to marry him! Why are you mad that now I want a divorce?

We have just grown apart. I think we will both be happier away from each other.

If you have ever heard any of these lines you know that there is a line you can never cross with your adult children: berating their spouses.

Will your adult children marry partners that are less than perfect? No doubt about it.

Will your adult kids become angry, frustrated, even down-right-mad at their life partner? Probably.

Will you be tempted to get angry, frustrated, even down-right mad at your adult child’s life partner. Undeniably.

Remember: you are ALWAYS the parent! You are ALWAYS the adult. You ALWAYS live by your VALUES and not your emotions.

Don’t allow the emotion of your adult child to drag you into a conversation you don’t need or want to have. Practice protection against speaking ill of your child’s spouse. Look in the mirror and repeat phrases such as, “Sweetheart, I care about you. I hate that you are hurting. I wish there was something I could do. But this is between the two of you. I will always listen and be here for you. Remember, you are going to forgive her and forget this incident. If I fall into speaking ill of your wife, you will remember my words even when you forgive her. I don’t want that to be part of our relationship. I am going to pray for you guys to work this out quickly.”

What if their relationship continues to spiral downward? What if they end up in separation or divorce. Even then I work hard at not trashing my former son or daughter-in-law. One of my kids has been through some pretty rough times with an ex. He can vent to me but I try to keep all my comments inside my head. He married her once upon a time. He had feelings for her. For me to say horrible comments against her is to degrade his judgement.

As I often told my teenaged daughters: you can never be held accountable for what you never said.

Am I wrong about this? Are there situations where we should speak badly against our kid’s spouse? Please leave me a comment. I am all ears and open to learn.

Setting Boundaries: Money

When is it right to give my Adult Children money?

Is it ALWAYS wrong to pay their rent?

Should I pay for a divorce to help get them out of a bad situation?

When will I know I have given too much to my Adult Children?

What if giving gifts is their love language? Then shouldn’t I give money to my Adult Children?

 Why would you give money to your Adult Children? 

Everybody needs help from time to time. I remember when we were adopting two of our children. The attorney’s fees and expenses were adding up. As my stress level increased the bank balance decreased. One day my dad came to visit and left a “welcome to the family” gift for my kids. I was in my mid-30s and had been married for more than a decade. I wasn’t reckless with cash and my husband had a good job–but what a nice surprise.

Life happens. Sometimes our adult children have a life or health challenge. They can’t work and need help with rent, groceries, necessities. How would you feel about helping out?

Or maybe they need help with a new project or venture. Several of our adult children own their own businesses and getting off the ground can be expensive. That seems more of an investment than a hand out, right?

What are some of the limits you have on giving your adult children money? Never? Only for education or business ventures? Would you help with the down payment on a house? Or do you do it like a “dividend pay out: If we have extra we give it to the kids?

Many of our Adult Children have a great education. They also experienced more opportunity than has ever been possible for young adults before in America. Most of us, as parents, made sure that they were smothered in possibilities we never had.

The result: too often our AC now believe that they cannot move forward unless they have ALL the opportunities, education, possibilities to take on a new venture.  They refuse to take risks out of fear of failure or perfectionism.  Their lack of initiative might put them in a financial bind and they end up needing us to bail them out–with cash! 

We have said YES! to some of the requests for financial help with our kids. As I think of those times I am so glad we said yes. The benefits far out weigh the cash expense.

And there have been those times we did not hesitate to say “no, not this time.” I have no regrets about those times either. If we had given the requested help I believe that we would have resented it and felt used.

It takes lots of wisdom and discernment to know where to set the boundary in giving money to our adult children.

There don’t seem to be any hard and fast rules about when to say “yes” and when to say “no!” to our kids about money. But communication rules do dictate that every family needs to have rules and guidelines about loaning, giving, forwarding money to our adult children.

What are your family’s house rules concerning money? I would love to hear from you!


This week is the fourth in a  of nine week series entitled


Hopefully, this dialogue will occur between myself and other parents of adult children!


Leaving home is never easy for mom and son.

When Scott left for boot camp I had HUGE fears because of the war in Afghanistan as well as some strain in our relationship. Our separation transitioned our relationship from a confused mother of an angry son to an empathetic mother of a open-hearted son ready to have his dad and I investing in his life.


When I dropped off John at college for the first time, I cried so hard that the man on the plane next to me asked which relative had passed away.  The flight attendant offered to bump me to business class so I could “be more comfortable” (read that as “move to a place where you can cry alone”).  


Obviously, I recovered from John’s departure to college, but the memory still reminds me of the emotion of that initial departure.

Parents can make leaving home a little easier by doing hard things in advance.

This  is culminated from a lot of moms who have launched kiddos to college or to another city to work  ) : 

  • Talk about how “adulting” changes your relationship
    • Do not act like this is NOT A HUGE change. This is information sharing. Put it on the table.
    • What decisions will you make together?
    • What decisions will the adult child make on his/her own?
      • Will the child make decisions about health or will you? (Are you going to keep tabs on their eating or sleeping? I know some parents whose kids have had health issues who are very stressed about the student’s health concerns.)
      • Will the child make spiritual decisions? (Can s/he skip church and still receive your support? Has the child been spiritually growing or stagnant? How willing are you to let this area go? )
      • Will the child make financial decisions? Does s/he have a job for spending money that is TOTALLY at his discretion or is some of that cash for eating, housing, expenses?

When our Nikki got a loft with a friend after college she made TONS of friends, learned about life, and only OCCASSIONALLY ran out of money!


  • Establish a regular time/form of communication.
    • Do not expect to talk every day.
    • Establish the frequency you want to hear from your child.
    • Establish the form of communication you are comfortable with–do you like to text? Instagram? Maro Polo? Talk on the phone? What’sApp?
    • DO IT BEFORE THEY LEAVE! How many ways can I say, “set your expectations OUT LOUD!”


Will your adult child have the freedom to experience financial independence or will you be monitoring that aspect? What happens when they run out of money?


  • How much freedom will the child have?
    • NO ONE HAS COMPLETE FREEDOM: no child, no parent.
    • Define the freedoms and PLAY THIS UP!!! Let them know you trust them with freedom–do not focus on the limitations.
    • Are you going to know where they are constantly? like an app? like Life360? Mama Bear or GeoZilla? Find my Friends? All of these safety apps help you locate your family or friends round the clock to protect them. Some young adults will find this intrusive and others will see it as a way to keep up with each other without having to communicate every day.


  • Explain the benefits and consequences of all these freedoms. What are your responses going to be if the child violates a freedom? (What if she is caught drinking at 18 years old?) What will be your response? LET YOUR CHILD KNOW WHAT TO EXPECT! NO SURPRISES! 


  • Make an ideal budget and talk about REAL numbers (this didn’t happen till our last one!)
  • Create a contract style agreement that establishes under what circumstances you will continue to support them (if you are going to continue to support them!) Ted had all our adult children sign a contract after their eighteenth birthday if they were still being supported by/or living with us. This left no room for surprises when it was time for rewards or changes. 

What were some ways you helped your adult child adjust to college, the military, or a new job life? Share your victories and those other times as well…




Love Languages of our Adult Children: Acts of Service

This blog is one in a series of six addressing the topic of SPEAKING YOUR ADULT CHILD’S LOVE LANGUAGE.   We may have done this when they were young and now believe that speaking the love language of my adult child is not as important. But nothing is further from the truth.  The first blog in the series Speaking Your Child’s Language explains why. 
The test to determine what your child’s love language might be can be found at www.5lovelanguages.com
Kate, Nikki, and Terah love their friends and family WELL through ACTS OF SERVICE–their primary love language.
My three girls who feel most loved by Acts of Service are TRUE servants. A friend of mine recently told me that the love language that fills her OWN tank signifies asWords of Affirmationbut she loves toSHOW love through ACTS OF SERVICE.Is it true that some people prefer toPERFORM acts of servicebut can’t accept them? SURE! Those servants who have been serving folks for a long time (in long time marriages, grew up with lots of siblings to serve) have concrete thoughts on what service looks and feels like.
Often EXCELLENT servants can teach the rest of us a thing or two about exactlyhowto place the napkin around the birthday plate to make the honoree feel loved!
The love tanks of Kate, Nikki, and Terah fill up when they receive acts of service. Here are some ideas from them and me…


Kate bought us ‘matchy’ scarves for the 4th of July…I loved it so much I even took this picture with no make up!
Kate has two “goofball boys” (this is not name calling but loving nicknames!) whom she serves every day. Below one act of service was working on a rocket that one brother received for his birthday. The rocket performed on point and the Goofball Brother experienced a memory he will never forget.
Kate works as a lobbyist and realizes what a PREMIUM time is for all of us. Spending a few hours privately with her (and her husband, even when he and Ted are SO tired they fall asleep on us!) fills her love tank when we get to see each other.
Through texts, email, Marco Polo, or whatever fun device of communication we currently use I keep Kate updated on this CRAZY BUSY family. She may be 1,200 miles away but when she steps off the plane, I want her to feel like she is IN THE LOOP.


One way Kate and Harris fill each other’s tank is through allowing the other to have some personal rec time. Kate encourages Harris to play golf and Harris makes a way for her to enjoy yoga every week. ACTS OF SERVICE are usually spelled TIME!

I have said before—serving my kids is serving me.

When Kate and Harris came for a visit I filled their tanks by taking the GoofBall Brothers for a morning while Kate and Harris went to the golf course—
SPOILER: I adore those boys and needed a little one-to-two time . ACTS OF SERVICE don’t have to be painful or marytdom!



Nikki throws a GREAT party! This one-year old party for Alana not only served her baby girl but ALL the family ad friends that fit in the house…and pool.

“I think that my needs for ACTS OF SERVICE right now is because of this season of life. I just need so much help!”  So spoike by sweet Nikki, mother of three BEAUTIFUL baby girls, five and under. Every day is a HUGE act of service to her family.
Last year Nikki taught English at the university model school which I founded. Every week as she entered the room to teach I took her baby and held Alana while she taught.OK—busted. This was NOT a hardship on the Grandmommy who held the baby each week till her mommy finished teaching.
Recently I really failed to support Nikki in a situation none of us expected to occur. I did not anticipate that as Rachelle says, “We needed to put out the Bat Light.” The next day, when a phone call of reassurance would have served, her dad and I got in the car and drove over an hour to look her in the eye and assure her that would never happen again.


Nikki is a ‘daddy’s girl’ so when he give her of his time and attention her love tank fills in a hurry!

Sometimes an act of service to your adult children takes a little more time than it took in making a pop-tart when they were small. But the time is such a GREAT investment in ACTING in SERVICE to them.


Terah loves the outdoors and nature. She recently visited the Lavender Farm in Utah of Young Living. Another way she serves others–good health!
Terah works as a nanny and also plays SUPER aunt to lots of nieces and nephews! Likewise she  serves her hard-working husband who works construction with another son-in-love.


Terah’s weekly acts help her sister Rachelle fulfill her calling of studying to be a midwife and work with her hubby in the construction industry.

When I asked Terah how I could show her I loved her she replied, “Come do my laundry or wash my dishes!” She might not have been kidding!
When she was engaged to be married, she confided in me that all the married kids got out of doing the dishes for the big family gatherings and she was looking forward to that!
One year, for Christmas Terah sent all of us “date boxes” so we could put on a special date for our spouses. Obviously, she adores DOING for others. At a recent family gathering she made a banana pudding that must have taken all day!Real meringue for a HUGE crew that would have consumed boxed brownies if she made them!
Ted and I adopted Terah when she was nine-weeks-old. Much of her birth history has been a mystery to us. Recently she did 23&Me to find out more about her pre-adoption past. When she got the results I compiled as much as I could of her adoption records, first birth certificate, and hospital records. We had a great breakfast looking through all the papers and details on the app to figure out as much as we could about her history. It was a sweet day neither of us will forget.


Terah spent time honoring Emma on her 12th birthday as we all helped Emma make the “journey” to womanhood.

Feeding your hungry brood every evening does not ACTUALLY count as an ACT OF SERVICE, since EATING if REQUIRED for living.
But a SPECIAL meal for a birthday or any day COUNTS to fill their love tanks because these gals are servants themselves and they KNOW what it takes to make a beautiful meal.
When you are performing ACTS OF SERVICE just ask, “what would make this special? A little music? A bow? An extra gift? Merangue?”

Although they don’t live in our home, our Adult Servers need us to help fill their love tanks!