It’s easy for us to look back on our high school and college days, and only remember the late night fun, friendships, sporting events, and parties. Even though those things were a part of those years, there is much more that happens during that time. The years between, say….17 and 20…are times of huge transition as a young person adjusts to becoming an adult. It can be a confusing and stressful time, and a time when young people are trying to figure out what they want to do with the rest of their life. Many times relationships are hard, and they are trying to juggle a job and school work. Sometimes finances are tight and that can be stressful as well. These years are not as care free as we sometimes remember them to be.
As parents of children who are in this season of life, it can be a wonderful opportunity for us to look for ways to serve and encourage our children. Wouldn’t it be great if, instead of it being a time when there is conflict and distance that begins to form in our relationship, we took advantage of the time and did all we could to pursue our children and become their biggest support system and cheerleaders?
Here are some ways that I try to serve my own children, who are both college aged.
- I sometimes surprise them by cleaning their room during a week that is particularly busy (exam week, a big paper is due, they are working a lot of hours).
- On a particularly busy day, I will do their chores for them.
- I make sure that their favorite snacks are available.
- I will buy their favorite candy bar, and leave it on their pillow.
- Even though they both do their own laundry, sometimes I will do it for them just to bless them.
- I love grabbing them and taking them on a spontaneous lunch date.
- Sometimes if they are studying, I bring them a snack
- In the morning while my daughter is getting ready for work or class, I sometimes will bring her a hot cup of coffee or tea.
- I make sure that they know that our home is always open for them to bring their friends over.
- I allow them to have “study parties” in our living room, and I serve their friends.
- On Saturday mornings, I make sure the house is quiet so they can sleep in a little.
- As they run in out of the house, in between work and classes, I make sure I tell them I love them, that they are precious, and ask how they are doing.
- I ask how I can pray for them.
- If they didn’t do well on a paper or test, sometimes I will take them out for coffee or ice cream just to encourage them.
- I ask them how I can serve them to make a busy day more bearable.
- I work hard to get to know their friends.
- If they are hanging out in our home with a friend, sometimes I will suggest that we jump in the van, I will treat them both to Starbucks!
- I text them and tell them I miss them, love them, or am praying for them.
- I try to treat them with respect. They are young adults.
- I am working hard to learn how to relate to them in a new way, since they are getting older. I make sure I am reading good books for tips, or talking to women who have gone through this season already.
- I try to arrange a weekly family time to make sure we are connecting as a family and keeping caught up with each other.
- Sometimes on Saturday morning, I make their favorite breakfast, since most mornings during the week they are grabbing breakfast on the run.
- I Keep my eyes open for good devotional books or Bible studies that I can buy for them, to help encourage them to be in the Word.
- If they are struggling in a particular area, I work hard at responding with grace and calmly taking the time to discuss how we can work together to grow in that area. I try to let them know I am on their side and want to help them. I try not to lecture or “punish”, but to work together at coming up with a plan (and consequences).
- I look for opportunities to talk with them and find out what is going on in their minds, help them sort through their thoughts, and just generally be available.
If your child is in college, and doesn’t live at home:
- Send a care package, or letter stuffed with a gift card, on a monthly basis.
- When they come home for a break, clean their room and have a small gift waiting on their pillow. Make their favorite meal. Have a “welcome home” sign hanging on the front door.
- While they are home for a break, make sure you are as available as possible to them. This is precious time. Make them WANT to come home again.
- If it is their birthday, and they live too far for you to go visit, send them a “birthday party in a box” care package!
- If they are close enough for a day trip or weekend trip, make the effort to go visit them monthly. Take them out for dinner. Get to know their friends.
We have an amazing calling as parents. It doesn’t end just because they become young adults! There are so many fun ways we can bless our children and bond with them as they are growing up. They are unique people who need us to encourage them and support them as they transition into the next season of life. They are individuals. They are not us! We need to remember that and find ways to help them succeed in becoming the people they are meant to be! It will make such a difference!