Giving Good Advice

How to Give GOOD ADVICE to your Adult Children

ADVICE…Depending on who is giving it, it may be wise or foolish, helpful or useless, well-intended or pernicious. When you are a parent, giving advice comes with the territory and just because your child turns 18 or moves out of the house, it does not mean your instincts to love, guide and protect your kids are suddenly gone! So how do you go about giving GOOD ADVICE to your kids are who no longer kids? Or to anyone, really?!

I don’t have any adult children, but I am an adult “child.” So I offer these 6 Tips for Giving Good Advice from the perspective of the one on the receiving end!

AFFIRM OFTEN

Affirming another person opens their mind to what you have to say. We are much more inclined to hear your thoughts and give them their due attention if we trust you. The best way to build that trust is to regularly point out the GOOD things we are doing in our lives withOUT tagging on a correction (no matter how gently). This may take some conscious effort on your part but aim for 5 Affirmations to every 1 time you offer a difference of opinion. If you disagree a lot, that is okay…as long as you are still affirming 5 times as much!! (Be genuine – fake compliments may flatter for the moment, but they don’t hold weight for long.)

DISCUSS, DON’T LECTURE

Gone are the days of lecturing your son or daughter when he or she makes a bad decision. (Which will happen because we are flawed sinners finding our way through a messy world.) Instead, become a listener. When we do ask for your opinion, SHARE from your personal experience, rather than telling us what to do. Knowing you have walked in our shoes, dealt with our problems and survived helps us believe you know what you are talking about. And if you haven’t actually experienced what we are going through, your empathy will go a long way too.

VALUE DIFFERING OPINIONS

Though my sisters and I were raised in the same home environment, by the same 2 parents, were given the same opportunities and were taught the same core values, we all turned out very DIFFERENT! My parents have to value all the opinions of their 3 adult daughters, even when they clash with their own opinions. Valuing another person’s opinion does not necessarily mean you agree with him, but it does show that your relationship with him matters. And it should matter more than the latest political drama or parenting technique. Keeping that at the forefront of your mind will help you keep things in perspective and maybe even stay QUIET (just sayin’), especially when talking with a son or daughter that you are often combative with.

“I DON’T KNOW” IS OKAY

Sometimes we will coming looking for advice and you won’t have any to give. Your natural instinct as a parent is to rescue us from hurt and hardship but, you know that won’t always be possible. So be honest and just say “I don’t know how you should fix this/ stop this/ change this/ make this go away. But, I am here to help you figure it out.” Remember that thing I said about empathy going a long way? Your support is worth its weight in gold! Sometimes the most valuable lessons learned are the hardest ones, even if it is hard to watch from the sidelines.

CARE, DON’T CODDLE

There is a distinct difference between caring for someone and coddling them. Caring means having feelings of concern. So, BE concerned about our welfare and listen to our hurts. Try to understand our pain and comfort us the best you can. Coddling means indulging someone’s feelings in an overprotective way. Allowing us to be overly dramatic, wallow in self-pity while blaming our circumstances on things out of our control (even if they are) does not help us change them! While there is nothing wrong with letting us cry, don’t less us carry on!

ENCOURAGE

Encourage? Didn’t I mention this already? The benefit of affirming is building trust. But encouraging is different. While affirmations point out the good deeds or character qualities you see in us, encouraging us is helps us see those things for ourselves. The root of encourage is courage. What is courage? It is the ability to do something you are afraid of. It is moving forward in spite of fear. There will be times when we feel defeated, unmotivated, broken and afraid. Your words of encouragement remind us we have worth, we are valuable and, with God’s help, we will survive whatever trial we are facing. Encouragement is pointing us in the direction of the deeds we haven’t yet done or the character traits we are not yet exhibiting. It is letting us know you believe in us.

Giving good advice to adult children should eventually shift from leading us down the right path to walking beside us as we go. While you will always be a parent, embracing this season of friendship is the sweet reward that comes from years of hard work pouring into us.

I am very blessed that I have a wonderful relationship with my parents. There are lots of affirmations, hours of discussion and truly valued differences of opinions. Over the years, there have been a few “I don’t knows” and they were never ones to coddle me! My parents are nothing if not encouraging!! They know that giving good ADVICE in this way keeps our relationship open to me receiving their advice. (Of course, that does not always mean I take it! HA!) Now, my adult relationship with my parents has not always been this way. It had to go through growing pains as we shifted from one phase of our relationship to the next. The good news is that if your relationship is not what you would like it to be right now, it can always improve. Just follow my ADVICE. 😉

If you are not quite in the “Adult Children” phase yet, these 6 Steps for Giving Good Advice still apply to your teens. Check out this post for more on that parenting phase. 5 Tips for Parenting a Teen from a Teen’s Perspective

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