“You kiddies…”

Lidya and meOur 5th child is going to be 18 in a few months.  Kinda crazy to think that yet another kid is on the brink of adulthood, and how fast it seems to happen.  The fact that she didn’t arrive in our family til the age of 11 makes her childhood really feel like the blink of an eye. But here we are, teaching her how to drive, and talking about what she might like to do after she graduates next year.  Maybe become a dental assistant?  Maybe save some money and do mission work in Ethiopia with my sister?  We’ll see…

As John and I moveJohn and me, age 19 towards parenting more and more grown children, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what blesses young adults as they move into adulthood.  What do they most need from us?

When I think back to our years of early adulthood, I always think of John’s grandma.  Whenever she saw us, she’d almost always say, “You kiddies are doing so well!”  No matter how rough the current moment felt in our lives, somehow her cheery praise made us feel like we must be doing okay. There may have been moments when she wondered how things were going to work out for us, but I never felt anything from her other than confidence and pride.  What a gift.

When you think back to your late teen years and your early years of adulthood, who blessed you and encouraged you along the way?  How did they do it?  I hope you’ll think about the question and comment below.  I’ll be sitting back, taking notes.


  1. I think approval and acceptance are key. An invitation to dinner would have been nice too – but my family was far away when we were first married.

  2. I still have young children but I fondly remember what encouraged and helped me: a genuine interest in my now more independent life, an ever ready ear to listen to me, shoulder to cry on when needed, encoragement and confidence in my abilities and choices.

  3. My parents and in-laws always made us feel welcome in their home. Life was rough when we were starting out, but we could always come home, and from their quiet examples remember what was truly important. I don’t recall them giving a lot of advice–except when we asked for it–they just unconditionally supported us.

  4. When my children were young we moved from Illinois to New Jersey for my husband’s job. It was the first time I did not live within a 2 hour drive to my parents. We moved near my husband’s aunt and uncle, whom I love like my own aunt and uncle. His aunt would call me and tell me how proud she was of me and how great we were doing. Now she has Alzheimer’s and while it is heartbreaking that she does not remember any of this, I remember well enough for both of us.

  5. First married, it had to be my mother, mother-in-law, and father-in-law telling us that unless we asked them for advice; we would never receive any. To this day and with my own adult children that is the most blessed encouragement I ever received and give. I do not offer any advice on any subject to my children. This helped me become an independent and strong functioning woman and wife and I have the same confidence in my children. I wait for them to call me to invite themselves to dinner, I wait for them to ask me to babysit, I wait for them to invite me to their house. I wait for them to make the first move always. My son-in-law and daughter-in-law have told their friends they have the best mother-in-law in the world that let’s them live their lives!!!!!!

  6. When I was a mid- to late-teenager, my parents had confidence in me, and allowed me freedom. That was a big deal. But they were my parents, and sometimes a young person needs people who aren’t related to them to offer them perspective.

    Others who built me up during that time were my church’s youth group leaders and my the families of my peers. The women who cared enough to start a small prayer group of girls and teach us about prayer and meditation were pivotal to my developing adult identity.

  7. At family gatherings my husband’s sweet aunt will always find a quiet moment to tell me, “You’re such a good mom.” It seems like my own mom can watch some of the craziness of my days and have thoughts on how I should do it differently, but Aunt K’s quiet compliment makes me feel like we must be doing ok.

  8. I think for me it was having people like my Grandmother who wrote me letters each week when I was away at college even though I rarely wrote back – just chatting about daily life, keeping me up to date on my many, many cousins, asking thought provoking questions and how proud she was of me.

    My parents always treated me like an adult (do you want us to reserve your hotel room when going to visit Grandma or do you want to share with us? do you want to bake pies or a vegetable for Thanksgiving or serve and clean up?) and always gave an explaination when I asked for why they did, didn’t do or didn’t want me to do things. My husband’s parents didn’t do this and that made it very, very hard to grow in our own relationship because they would get very, very angry if we made decisions without them.

    Enjoy those relationships!

  9. My grandmother – she sent cards for silly holidays (like groundhog’s day! lol who does that? My grandma did.) She sent letters and care packages when I was in college. She loved me as a young single mother and never said judgmental things about my situation. Ovarian cancer claimed her, and frankly I didn’t have anyone else who really gave me a strong unconditional loving support system for many years after that.

    My advice to parents of teens/early 20somethings is to be honest about how your beliefs are affecting your relationships with your adult children. My parents were extremely literalistic in religious belief, dysfunctional in their personal relationship, and while “being there” for us in a roof-over-the-head manner, simply didn’t provide a warm welcoming loving home. It’s no wonder none of us wanted to be there if we didn’t absolutely have to be.

    It doesn’t hurt to reach out on occasion instead of always waiting for the kid/adult to contact you. (Friendship is a two-way street after all 🙂 )

    Especially if you are mentoring people who you did not raise, keep in mind they may have been raised to “go it alone”, to not impose on people, that asking for help is beyond rude and accepting help is ‘weak’.

    I admire what you do for your family Mary and as a kid that is the kind of family I wished I was living in. I’m sure your older children appreciate the parents they have.

  10. In our early 30s we probably don’t quite qualify as young adults, but I do think encouragement is so important. We put off telling a very loved family member about our newest baby on the way (#7, a loved surprise after #6 was born with major health issues) because we suspected what her reaction would be. Sure enough, it was pure worry and anxiety. She loves us dearly, but we feel she has no faith in us to do what we have set out to do which is awfully hard when it isn’t a situation we had planned to be in anyway! Also, simply touching base. Many of our older family members don’t want to be a bother so they don’t call or ask how we are doing. We struggle to find time to call them in this busy stretch of life (lots of little kids and some high needs in there) so we are drifting apart. It would mean a lot if they took the time to make a quick phone call to tell us they were praying for us or send us a message online asking how things are going. It needs to go both ways though I know. Even the family member who keeps saying how proud she is of us on facebook isn’t all that encouraging because she speaks to us possibly once a year and never wants to hear about any of our challenges because it stresses her out too much.