Counseling Your Adult Children
Eight Tips That Will Help Your Voice Be Heard
By Sam and Debbie Bowman
At The Bowman Initiative, that’s us, Sam and Debbie, we are all about helping families get stronger in every aspect of life; finances, faith, family life and friends (relationships). Together we have five children, fifteen grandchildren and (Debbie hates to admit it) five great- grandchildren. We call this group of people our home church and we consider ourselves the pastors. We want to help our children find a strong, practical faith in God. We want to help our grown, adult kids navigate this crazy, crazy world we live in in postmodern America. It seems like dealing with the little ones is easy. We just have lots of fun, talk, and have more fun and along the way insert wisdom tidbits.
However, on the other side of the coin we sometimes find it more challenging to relate to our grown, adult kids. Here’s a few tips on how to navigate the sometimes turbulent waters of relationship with your kids who are now raising their own kids.
Zip Up Your Lip
Sometimes we can see things that need to improve with our grown kids and it’s hard to keep our lips zipped. You know, if you are always telling them what they should do, or should have done, their ears will shrink. The fewer your words the more valuable your words. The more numerous they are the less valuable they are and the more they are devalued. Silence is golden, because it gives a poignant pose between words of wisdom.
Unzip Your Ears
Listening is very powerful. Listening builds a powerful platform for solid communication and relationship. Listening is an action that communicates how much you care. Even if you can see the problem a mile away act as though what they are sharing is news to you. Acting interested and supportive before you speak builds hunger. Listening is the sugar that makes the coming medicine go down easier.
Build An Open Door
Right now we are building doors with our pre-teens. No matter what direction they go in life, and what choices they make, we want them to feel like they can come talk to us. This means we show them right now we won’t be harsh, negative or judgmental. We are also showing them there are real consequences to lying to us, or covering up, or doing stupid things that are dangerous. Other than that, letting them have responsibility, experience consequences and then have conversation with us about it is what we are doing now, so they will come to us later. So start young with your grandkids. Helping grandkids helps your kids.
Asking the right question at the right moment can make an impact as powerful as making a direct statement. Sometimes the direct challenge of a statement is what is needed. But, most of the time you should be looking for opportunities to ask questions so you aren’t always coming directly at them. You are learning to coach your children. Coaches see problems that need to be addressed then ask powerful questions that cause listeners to discover their own best answers. Answers put on from others has a short shelf life. Self-discovery leads to lasting change. Questions lead to self-discovery.
Use More Compliments Fewer Criticisms
Even us adults need positive compliments. So do your adult kids, and while they may never admit it, they need and long for your approval. Use the five compliments to every one criticism ratio and then rather than accusations ask questions like, “Have you thought about . . . ?” When giving advice someone else’s idea may be more powerful than your own like, “You know I was readying “Raising Rowdy Boys” by Dr. Dobson and he said . . . “ “Does that make sense?” or “What do you think about that?”
You don’t need to bring up all the issues you see where improvement is needed. Save your best constructive comments for the most important issues and let the rest go.
Use Indirect Eye Contact
Try having conversation while doing an activity, like washing dishes, cooking or driving somewhere. This lets you talk without direct eye contact that might be interpreted as confrontative. Relaxed is always better. When listening direct, consistent eye contact communicates you care.
Use Casual Conversational Voice Tones
Think about your voice tone. Both Debbie and I have worked on using a soft, conversational tone, and avoiding the whine that tells your kids you’re about to tell them what’s wrong with them.
Use Physical Contact
On rare occasions physicality can make someone uncomfortable. However, generally speaking, no matter how old your children are they respond positively to a touch, a hand on the shoulder, or a hug. Dad’s, hug your sons! Dad’s hug your daughters.
We’d love to hear from you. Share with us some ideas you have used to get your wisdom into the minds and hearts of your adult kids.
Love, Sam and Debbie
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Sam is a businessman, writer, entertainer, speaker, husband, father to five children, grandfather and great grandfather. Sam graduated from Huntington University with a B.A. in psychology and drama and pursued a degree in Broadcasting from Illinois Central College with graduate degree in Christian Ministry from Christian Leadership University. Sam is the creator of Granpa Cratchet, one of the most successful touring shows in the history of the live events industry. Millions of people see Granpa every year all across the United States at fairs and festivals. His characters have appeared on every major network: Good Morning America, Entertainment Tonight, The Today Show (4 times). Sam and his characters have made over 500 local appearances and on all the major networks; NBC, CBS, ABC, ESPN, PBN, The LeSea Network, The PTL Network and Praise the Lord. They currently appear all around the world every week on YouTube and Facebook, and on several satellite networks via the Kidz Television Network and The Captain Hook (children's) Show.
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