“Don’t give advice to your adult children unless they ask for your advice.”
I made this statement to a friend whose daughter recently got married. Now she has a son-in-law for the first time. This couple recently moved to another state and my friend wondered about sharing some practical advice with them that she thought would be helpful.
We have three sons-in-law, and I realized early on that as soon as our daughters got married, their source of advice switched. As well it should.
The Bible says in Genesis 2:24
24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
So, the man and wife each LEAVE their father and mother and become one. Notice it doesn’t say “and become six” which would include both sets of parents.
Leaving is not just a physical act, it is also intellectual and emotional.
- leaving physically – changing location of “home”
- leaving intellectually – understanding what it means to become one, choosing your spouse over others
- leaving emotionally – feelings that your love and loyalty goes to your spouse first
That is why we shouldn’t give unsolicited advice. When we do, our adult child is put in the middle and must decide between following the parent’s advice – or the advice of their spouse.
That is not fair.
Do I always follow this practice myself?
Do I never give unsolicited advice?
Unfortunately, I do.
But I have three daughters who will respectfully let me know – “Mom, this is not your business.” It is a very good thing that they do. I don’t want our daughters or our sons-in-law to dread my interference in their lives.
I had 20+ years to tell our children what to do – to mess with their lives. That was enough time.
We often look back fondly on the “good old days” of our children being young and think that our grandchildren should have the same opportunities. We remember how we used to do things and think it was so much better.
But was it really better? Was it better because we were young and we remember how it felt being young?
Our children and grandchildren will look BACK on these current times and someday remember them as “the good old days”. Imagine that!
What can we do when we see something that sincerely concerns us about our adult children or grandchildren?
Philippians 4:6-8 (TLB)
6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs, and don’t forget to thank him for his answers. 7 If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus.
When our adult children do ask for advice – give it respectfully and thoughtfully. What a blessing it is to have adult children seek our advice!
When my parents lived with us, Phil would often ask my father for advice, especially when it came to plants and trees, my father’s field of study. My dad is the kind of person who never gives advice unless asked, which is a reason we were able to live together so well. In the past several months, two of our sons-in-law have asked Phil for advice. Phil also does not give advice unless he is asked. We were blessed that they valued Phil’s thoughts.
So, remember to treat our adult children as we want to be treated. That is why the golden rule is golden…..