Communication: Listening

John Maxwell teaches the LADDER of listening. How do you rate yourself when you are speaking with your adult children? 

Last week I stated:
Frequency of communication can vary with every family and every season.
Instead of focusing on HOW OFTEN 
WHAT should I communicate with my adult children?
And just as I was about to press “PUBLISH” 
I got this text:
Am I ever gonna hear your voice again? It has been 40 forevers!

Back to the drawing board.

Rule #1 in dealing with adult children: 
Just as you figure it out
 the rules will change. 
When they were teens asking lots of questions and ‘checking in’ were being nosey and irritating–now they want us to check in and ask questions. 

What is the trick to keeping up with what my adult kids need to communicate with me?

Listening Skills


This appears to be so simple and it is anything but easy. 
It seems that somewhere between high school graduation and reentry into your home as a self-reliant adult our children learn a different language. We have to PROBE for real answers to their questions and we have to learn question for meaning.
John Maxwell teaches the LADDER of listening. How do you rate yourself when you are speaking with your adult children? 


LOOK      at the person speaking
My kids know they do not have my full attention when I am looking at my phone. How about you?
ASK        questions to clarify their message
Recently upon hearing some about a problem from the daughter in the picture above I said, “Oh, I see you need my help with that?” My daughter was, “No, there isn’t anything you can do. I just wanted you to know.” OH!! Good thing I asked!
Do NOT      interrupt
Nothing says disrespect like trying to finish a sentence for someone else.
Do NOT      change the subject
I am terrible about this! My son was trying to tell me about an experience he had while he was in the Marines on Iwo Jima. Since my Dad has served there, this was an emotional topic and I knew I was going to end up crying. I tried to say something to move the conversation to Scott’s time in the service or ANYTHING ELSE. Then, it struck me that this was an emotional moment for HIM too. I stopped, looked him in the eye and listened with all my heart—as all four of our eyes filled with tears.
Emotions:      Check you EMOTIONS at the door when listening
The story of listening to my son WAS an emotion we could both share. Anger is NOT an emotion you want to share with your adult child. If they are infuriating you simply say, “Give me a moment. I need to check my emotions on this.”  Be the adult. Do not become angry—it is a choice.


RESPOND      when listening! 
At the end of the conversation try to respond with a positive action (if needed) or at least words of encouragement in the particular situation. When one of my daughters was thinking of going back to school to get her midwifery degree she talked it out with her dad and I. It reminded me of a conversation I had years ago with my own Dad when I wanted to start a new venture. It was one of the few times in my life my Dad did not encourage me. Although I thought Rachelle was biting off more than she could chew with the new degree, her two jobs and six kids, I knew it was her calling. Encouraging her, I promised to edit her papers while she was in school. And yesterday she took me up on it!
Listening is one of the greatest gifts you can give your adult children.
What thoughts do you have on listening well? Please comment below.

Celebrating LOVE with our Adult Children

We avoid showing love to our adult children for fear of “doing it wrong.” We need to celebrate them. No one is too old to be celebrated and loved.

Celebrations with young children range from chaos to cute and creative. We do not seem to mind having glitter in our hair and cake frosting on the cabinet if the mess brings smiles to our delighted faces of our toddlers and preschoolers.
Annual Easter Egg Party: one way everyone feels love…especially Grandaddy! 
I recently asked several moms of adult women:
‘Why is sending a card to your daughter so hard?” 
 One mom told me, “She is an adult now. She has to grow up sometime.”
Another two moms:
“I buy her too many presents at Christmas so I don’t need to tell her that I love her during the year. I have already spoiled her rotten. She knows I love her.”
“She has a husband to love her now. She is his responsibility.”
Growing up does not mean growing out of appreciating love and affection. 
Maybe we DID spoil them as little girls. Maybe we were too hard when they were teens–but this is a NEW DAY!

Giving our kids a day to enjoy their spouses while we LOVE on the grands is another way to show love. Charla’s love language is CRAFTS. And boy does she show me love in this department!


Dear Mother,

They never outgrow the delight in knowing we adore them. They never outgrow the need to know that we KNOW they were created for greatness. They never outgrow our love.

These two stanzas, the very heart of the great poem, “The Ancient Mariner,” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834), sum up the lesson of this masterpiece
He Prayeth Best.
Farewell, farewell, this I tell
To thee, thou Wedding Guest!
He prayer well we liveth well
Both man and bird and beast
He prayeth best who loveth best
All things, both great and small:
For the dear God who loveth us,
He made and loveth all.
Loving our children is like dancing—we know we are not doing it right, but we have to keep listening for the music. (And try to keep our opinions of doing it WRONG to a minimum!)
 Most of us go through times of indulgence, overprotectiveness, or being too harsh and becoming bitter. Admitting one of these faults to ourselves and our children makes up the mental gymnastics of a good portion of our days. 
As a Christian parent, I have to ask myself if I am loving my child “best”–the way God loves me…and therefore the “right way,” or if I am following the culture and loving my child through permissiveness or laziness or perfectionism?
This all sounds like advice for toddlers but our role as the parent does not change,  though the physical act of day-to-day care is constantly changing.
Parents to adult children worry that they won’t get it right. The transition to ‘adulting’ our adult children may some days appear hard and some days seem very natural to us. But like dancing, we keep moving to the music and a few steps fall in line.
How do you show love to your adult children?
Do you know their love language? How important is that? 
How do your adult children show you love? 
I would love to hear your comments below or you can email me at


Encourage THINKING–Not the Thought!

When our darlings become adults we remember all those times they were the STAR OF THE SHOW!

From our perspective, they were destined for nothing but greatness.  Because of our perspective, we become disappointed when they don’t ‘reach their potential’ because of a thought they have.  

“Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.”


We think that when our children are small we want to encourage them TO THINK.


We delight in all their funny thoughts and repeat every witty comment every said over a meal or to a grandparent!


When Scott said to my sister, “Why doesn’t God just kill the devil? Oh I know! He has that pitch forky thing!” I thought we would double over laughing. The theology did not worry us! The four-year-old was  THINKING!!!!



They make home runs and we CHEER! They strike out and we say, “You’ll get ‘em next time!” Most of all, when they are young we are the BIGGEST cheerleaders. They make a 100 on their spelling test and we see visions of ‘writer’ in their future. They flunk a math test and we cross ‘engineer’ off the list of possible occupations and say, “The world has too many engineers anyway!”

We know they are going to be successful! 



When our darlings become adults we remember all those times they were the STAR OF THE SHOW!


From our perspective, they were destined for nothing but greatness.  Because of our perspective, we become disappointed when they don’t ‘reach their potential’ because of a thought they have.


 We try (sometimes not so gently) to get them ‘back on course!’ We KNOW they are destined for greatness and they just need a little push.

They just need a ‘tweak in their thinking…” OR IS IT THEIR THOUGHTS? 

Soon the push becomes a shove…and the shove… becomes our own frustration.

 Why do we push them? Because we still see the adorable child whom we wanted to succeed. We see the ballerina that just needed encouragement. We see the scholar that only needed someone to believe in him.

The truth is: our kids MAY NOT DEFINE SUCCESS THE WAY WE DO.  They may actually have different THOUGHTS than we do. 


They may not desire a corner office with a window; they may not even desire a corner office OR  any office AT ALL.

We wanted them to THINK and we encouraged their thinking! Now that they are thinking on their own, sometimes we are nervous, upset and even angry that the end of their thoughts did not lead them to the same destination our thoughts led us.


I am not romanticizing that we go back to believing in pixy dust and that the moon is made of green cheese, like when they were four…what I am proposing is that some of the basic ways to find truth might come back with different thoughts:

“We should learn to take care of the widows and orphans.”

        Hey Mom! We are adopting! Sure we can still conceive our own kids but we want to adopt.


“We should spread Jesus’ love to the ends of the earth.”

        Hey Dad! Last week we finally decided that our church’s missionaries need help! So we are taking the kids and going to _____ (fill in the blank with anywhere more than 200 miles away and preferably without clean water)


“We should put others above ourselves.”

    Yea, we know this is going to be hard on our family, but we prayed and we really feel like we need to take in this woman and her three kids while she gets on her feet.


 “As much as we can, we should owe no one anything except love.”

    We sold our second car. We are paying off all our debt. We can do this.


“As far as it lies within you, live peaceable with all men.”

    I am not gonna rock the boat on his lifestyle. Live and let live is what you taught me.

“He who doesn't take care of his family is worse than an infidel.”

    I am quitting my job. I can never be at home when he is home and it is just not worth it.


Encouraging thinking— not the specific thoughts:

JUST another super-power to parenting adult children. 



Psalm 57:7

7 My heart is steadfast, O God,
    my heart is steadfast!
I will sing and make melody!
A year ago  I was confident I heard the Lord tell me to sell my company and take a new adventure. The new adventure was the one I am on now: writing, blogging, speaking about parenting adult children. 
But, the sale of the company did not go. I regrouped and turned to sell shares in the company to generate the income I needed to be able to ‘step aside’ from my salary and begin this project.
When that did not work either I stalled in this writing venture.
Even though all my kids were finished with school, I found it impossible to just close the doors and turn away.  There has still been no financial provision for my new venture but I taking the steps to pursue this calling of dialoguing with others about parenting our adult children.

Hebrews 10:35

35 Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.


Recently, a gal visited our church who had been called to be a midwife to Haiti. having seen the high  mortality rate of the mothers who had just given birth.  She realized that these mothers were leaving orphans because of very treatable infections and lack of knowledge.  According to her testimony, she told the Lord, “Lord, if you will just give me a good paying job while I am here in the states so I can pay these school bills, then I will go back to Haiti and deliver babies and keep mothers alive.”
Our pastor laughingly said, “Never tell God if He gives you a good paying job then you will follow. Go ahead and tell Him you will do it for free and depend on Him, because that is what has to happen every time, right?”
Although the world may see my company not selling as an epic fail I am choosing to see it as a great provision to increase my faith in the calling of this project.
I am not a great writer. I am not a great organizer or time manager. Every word will depend on the Lord. Every edit will depend on Him. The provision for the project will come from Him.
Jehoshephat knew that dependence when the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir threatened to come and invade the Israelites.  King Jehoshaphat cried out the prayer I have prayed so many times:
 “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” 2 Chronicles 20:12
So why in the world would I beign with FAILURE as the first lesson in learning to parent adult children? Becuase we will fail them. We have failed them…

Why is FAILURE the first lesson in learning to parent our children who are now adults? Because we will fail them.  We have failed them.

We failed them as infants! Remember how SHOCKED we were that the nursing staff could be so incompetent as to let us leave the hospital with that baby that we knew NOTHING about raising?
And toddlers — do not get me started! I can never go back to that SuperCenter, since my toddler threw a fit because he wanted to leave, and then promptly threw up in the basket! News flash– we will continue to fail them.
Fail. Fail. Fail. 
But just as we continued to love and nurture them through the infant and toddler fails, we carry on in their adult lives. We cannot save our adult children from making mistakes (although most do not still throw fits in the middle of Target any more) or from unhappy days, broken hearts, rejection from friends (or siblings), lost jobs, or natural disaster. But we can show them where to look for comfort…
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
My almost-joke prayer to the Lord is always, “Lord, you got me into this parenting thing. It was your idea not mine. You better do something here!”
Smiling, He does. He never fails.