Friday, November 20, 2015

You Never Stop Being a Parent, by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jim Newheiser

My mom bought me a parenting book for my birthday.

She's a kindred spirit like that.

It might seem odd on the surface, but we talk about everything from YouTube to the Bible, and when she saw me reading this book at the bookstore, she knew that it would lead to a lot of good discussions. Parenting adult children is a perennial topic in our home, and this book has proven to be some of the wisest advice I've ever read on the subject.

It's one of those books that's so good, I think every home should have a copy.

The Book (Back Cover Copy)
You may have always expected your job as a parent to be done once your children reached adulthood . . . but you're quickly finding out that you never stop being a parent! Jim Newheiser and Elyse Fitzpatrick ground you in the guidance of God's Word, reminding you that your relationship with your adult children can only be as deep and meaningful as your relationship with him.

My Thoughts 
When your children are little, difficult questions are posted on Instagram and Facebook, and you are free to commiserate over them with friends. But as your children grow, the questions and anecdotes trickle away to an occasional heavy hint and an even more telling silence. It's a painful thing to grow into adulthood. I talk with a lot of college age students, and common throughout them all is the ache of tense relationships with nobody to explain how this is supposed to work. Christian families are no exception. Homeschool families are no exception. To be honest, our family is no exception.

It's part of the growing process that every family has to go through. Just like no one is exempt from the difficulties of teething and adolescence, so no family is exempt from the bigger difficulties of the 18-30 age range, when kids are wrestling through theology choices, lifestyle, career, and how to manage a family/friend balance. Not to mention issues of dating/courtship relationships. While Christians have lots of self-help books about toddlers, and even teenagers, there's not much I've heard of regarding full-fledged adults living with their parents. Those books that I saw often contained an air of "let this person be their own individual" that had some grains of truth, but didn't back it up with the deep, biblical theology I was comfortable with.

Enter a random day at a random bookstore, walking by a random shelf--which really wasn't random at all. I pulled out You Never Stop Being a Parent, and found in this book, so many of the things our family had learned by trial and error. I pulled it out and excitedly read bits to my mom. "I can't believe this! We've seen this happen! I need this book!"

The key lessons this book answer big questions: Kids should work hard and be adults. Don't give them free lodging if it would enable a lazy or wicked lifestyle. Don't be afraid to set moral boundaries, but be careful not to micromanage things not required by the Bible that would exasperate them. Parents should not dictate or micromanage. Kids have to walk before the Lord, commit their own failings and successes, and receive punishment or blessing accordingly. This book also deals with kids who are not walking a Christian lifestyle, kids who constantly get into debt or come to their parents for more money, and what to do if your adult child embraces a gay lifestyle or cohabits unmarried. It deals with releasing your kids to the joy of marriage relationships. And it deals with what your kids should expect from you when they live at home, as far as gracious, godly communication and expectations.

Elyse Fitpatrick and Jim Newheiser write this book for parents. But I would recommend this book to any adult child seeking to navigate these years with grace and biblical living. This book is a good counselor, and can give the reassurance and sane perspective that many people struggle to maintain in the middle of these conflicts.

We went through the common ups and downs of dealing with social media, how to use free time after graduation, getting jobs, going to college, and sleep schedules. But through it all, my parents have graciously allowed us the freedom to walk before God as individuals, while still offering wise advice. Because of they allowed us to grow into that adulthood, they have our hearts and our trust in a way that they never could have gained otherwise. They have trained us, and now they trust God to continue to mature us. I can say truly that we've moved from parent/child relationship to brothers and sisters in Christ. I am so, so grateful to them. One of the fruits of that, is that my mom and I were able to take a trip together this fall, and it felt just like taking a trip with a dearly beloved girlfriend.

You Never Stop Being A Parent has some wise and much needed advice for navigating these difficult years. I can say from walking the road of personal experience that this advice rings true.

8 comments:

  1. Yup. I want to read this. Perhaps I'll buy it sometime. Very good review. Your parents have done a great job raising adult kids, and it's been a blessing to share a tiny part of that over the last several years. :) <3

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    1. I think you should get it! You would really enjoy it. :) I'm so glad you can be friends with our whole family, we all love you! <3

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  2. This is a really interesting topic, Schuyler. I was thinking just recently that one of the barriers to families living together past the children's adulthood is that our culture just doesn't do that anymore. But for most of world history, it was commonplace for adult children to go on living at home helping to run the family business, caring for widowed/aged parents, or acting as trainee knight/war leader. There was no connotation of immaturity involved, and I wonder if parents were just naturally better at letting their children be adults than most would be today - because it was a more common thing.

    I'm very grateful for the way my parents have encouraged us into adulthood at home :)

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    1. Yes--more common, more expected. I think one thing that helped us is that my parents expected us to be adults from our early teens, so they treated us with respect as such, and we grew into it more and more as time went on.

      It's interesting, though, that parent/child tension on the adult theme carries through a lot of literature. Our century, while it has the problem of extended adolescence, isn't new on the issue of conflict and control.

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  3. Thank you for sharing this post, dear Schuyler! This is definitely the type of book I'd like to read.

    Also, this bit: "But as your children grow, the questions and anecdotes trickle away to an occasional heavy hint and an even more telling silence. It's a painful thing to grow into adulthood. I talk with a lot of college age students, and common throughout them all is the ache of tense relationships with nobody to explain how this is supposed to work." <3

    That ache is definitely very real, especially in this day and age; both for parents and children; I'm encouraged by your sharing this post, dear friend.

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    1. Yes, you would enjoy this book, and I hope you can get a copy! I have such a heart for breaking the silence and having some honest conversations. Especially in homeschool circles, I think people are so lost between where to draw boundaries of obedience and honor as a child to parents, and as an individual to God. We need more teaching on this topic, I think!

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  4. Sounds like an excellent book, and so badly needed. I've been thinking of this book for a couple of months since you mentioned it, and I've been eagerly anticipating this review. ;)

    ....I think I'll get it for some peoples for a Christmas present...and then I'll of course get to read it too. :P
    Thanks for the review, my friend, and for walking alongside in so many areas of life!
    Kyla <3

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    1. Just the way we think about Christmas gifts, too! ;P After all, sharing is caring.... :wasntme:

      I'm so glad you want to get it! I think it's wonderful, biblical, healing, clarifying. I hope you find it so!

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