Graduate 2022/Matthew McDill

I was up till almost midnight last night talking with my son who is away in college. We talked about how hard school is, girlfriend questions, work, and his spiritual growth. I don’t enjoy staying up late, but I love talking to my son! There are some seasons of parenting that I particularly enjoy. One of them is the cute baby time before they start walking. I love holding, playing, and talking with them at that age. Another favorite time of parenting is when I get to relate to and continue coaching my adult children.

If you have a child graduating, you are in that stage of parenting as well. I want to share a few reminders of how to parent them well. I hope you are already doing all of these things. If not, now is a great time to start. There are a lot of parenting responsibilities that fade away over time. The following reminders are ways we can continue to love and care for our children into adulthood. Let’s make a fresh commitment to faithfully minister to them in these ways for the rest of their lives.

  1. Pray for them.

My mom and dad still pray together for me every day. They make sure I know it, too. No matter how good or bad our relationships are with our children, we can always pray for them. I believe that as parents, we have a special position of authority in prayer for our children. One powerful strategy is to pray Scripture for them. How about this one?

“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:14-19 ESV)

  1. Be available to them.

I am very busy trying to juggle various life priorities. But when my older kids call or walk into my office, I make time for them. Aside from my wife, I believe they are my most important ministry. My favorite time is when we can sit down face-to-face, enjoy a cup of coffee, and talk about real life. I love hearing about what they are learning, walking with them through their struggles, and discussing the deep questions of life.

I think back to so many conversations similar to these that I have had with my dad, even in just the last few years. As my kids get older, get married, have kids, and face another whole set of life issues, I hope that they will still call me or come by for a cup of coffee and conversation.

  1. Treat them with respect.

Again, this is not something you should start doing when you have adult children. All people, even little ones, should be treated with respect. But respect rises to a new level of importance as our children take on full responsibility for their lives. It is important for parents to stop treating their grown children like they are still little and treat them with respect as adults. This practice will lay the groundwork for a fulfilling adult relationship with your kids. One way we show respect is to give them (even more) space to make decisions and figure things out on their own. Part of giving them space is recognizing that your children have to work out their own relationship with God. As we pray, we can have confidence that he is working in their lives.

  1. Point them to Jesus.

Of course that is what we have been trying to do all along. So, let’s continue to show them what it looks like to follow Jesus with a heart fully surrendered to Him. Let’s continue to pray with them and ask them how their walk with the Lord is going. Ask them what God is teaching them. Ask them how you can pray for them. Remind them of the goodness and love of God as they go through difficult times.

This passage from Proverbs describes well the relationship we hope to have with our adult children.

“Listen to your father who gave you life
and do not despise your mother when she is old.
The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice;
he who fathers a wise son will be glad in him.
Let your father and mother be glad;
Let her who bore you rejoice.
My son, give me your heart,
and let your eyes observe my ways.”
(Proverbs 23:22, 24, 26)

Matthew McDill and his wife, Dana, live in Clemmons, NC, with six of their nine children. Matthew has been in pastoral ministry for over twenty-five years and is now the executive director for North Carolinians for Home Education. He earned his M.Div. and Ph.D. at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and authored the book Loving God: A Practical Handbook for Discipleship. Matthew loves to teach from God’s Word, especially on topics related to family relationships, discipleship, parenting and home education.