FIRST GLIMPSE: Adulting
“Uh, Dad, my car just started making a weird clicking noise. What do you think it is? And what should I do? Is it safe
I could hear the concern in my daughter’s voice as she encountered yet another life challenge in her first summer away from home (mostly), working as a live-in nanny for a family on the other side of the city.
After a few questions pinpointed the likely problem, I explained the steps to get her car repaired,
including what to say if an over-enthusiastic service tech tried to up-sell her on unnecessary services. Then, understanding the realities of her barebones budget, I offered quietly, “Or, you could just wait until tomorrow morning, and I will swing by and take care of it for you before work.”
Relief flooded her voice as she replied, “That would be really, really great, Dad.”
Problem solved. Life lesson taught. Dad stock rising! What a great five-minute conversation.
Many people live with the misconception that parenting stops at age 18. American culture has identified this as the “magic” age when children become legal adults, go away to college, or find a “real job” and start saving for their own place. But when it comes to parenting, at 18, the job is just getting started.
In a recent study conducted jointly by the University of California and New America Media, college-age students identified the breakdown of the family as the greatest challenge facing their generation, followed closely by violence, the threat of poverty, personal finances, grades, and relationship struggles. In other words, life is rushing at them like a runaway train. While they put up a brave front, the truth is, they often have no idea what to do next.
These vulnerable moments when children poise on the brink of adulthood provide parents a powerful opportunity to speak truth into their lives in many areas—finances, family issues, fear, and most importantly, faith. Consider a few suggestions for these crucial conversations:
Make the most of moments. Don’t force the conversation. Let life bring opportunities to you. From car problems to overdrawn accounts and broken relationships, speak when the moment is right.
Pick your battles. Warning!
Young adults make bad choices. They likely will make you angry, sometimes on purpose. Be patient. Don’t “take the bait” of petty disagreements. Instead, wait for moments to maximize your influence. Understand they are learning from their mistakes…just like you did.
Listen before you speak. This may be difficult. Often, fear and confusion find voice in frustration, even anger. Give young adults an opportunity to voice these frustrations, then speak gently into their need, identifying the real source of angst.
Keep faith first. Passing your faith to your children should be at the root of every conversation. Yes, it is important to teach them life lessons—adulting; but eternal lessons should be our real motivation.
About the Columnist: Eric K. Thomsen is managing editor of ONE Magazine and president of the Evangelical Press Association. Email: email@example.com.