The Truth About Raising Young Adults

I have more angst about parenting my young adult kids than any Christian mom should be willing to admit.

I know that God is sovereign.

I know that He rules and reigns in the affairs of my family.

Still, I sometimes struggle to believe that He’s orchestrating the events of my kids’ lives for their good – like, in a manner that prevents me from premature graying and aging.


Right now I have three kids navigating the rocky waters of young adulthood; and sometimes the compound effect of three at once makes me want to climb back under my covers and fake sleep.

Someone could have told me that raising young adults is akin to raising toddlers and teens, or maybe even tougher.

But no one did.

Most people told me to simply “Hang in there, kiddo!” Assuring me that in the twinkling of an eye, they would have grown-up and flown-the-coop.

So, as a parent, I emotionally braced myself for these two tough stages: toddler and teen; and I believed the myth that sometime around the age of 18 – their grown, off to college, or perhaps they magically disappear into a cloud of smoke.  POOF!

And then a new season of motherhood beautifully emerges: the young adult season.  A season where this dear ol’ mom (me!) gets to sit back, prop-up my feet and enjoy the fruit of my labor . . . with a tall glass of lemonade at hand, garnished with a wedge of lemon and a sprig of mint.

Ahh . . . parenting young adults is so refreshing!

Um . . . that’s not the case at all.

But ya know, if other parents, those help you guard your mental health parents, would have told me that things would be like this – that I would regularly obsess over the welfare of my adult kids until death do us part – I wouldn’t have been able to handle it.

There’s only so much truth that we can bear at once.

This has got to be why God only gives us our daily bread, our manna for today, because He wants us to have enough faith to trust Him with our tomorrow . . .

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Words of Jesus: Matthew 6:34)

So, I don’t fault the parent mental health police – those gate keepers of other parent’s emotional well-being – for not bearing it all . . . for not telling me there would be battles over curfews, house chores and lost keys (I’m not getting up to get that door again!); pleading over career choices and growing deeper in God; worry over the uncertainty of their future; and guilt over everything I apparently did wrong as a mom – or why else would they be this way? 

No, I don’t fault them for their silence at all because, apparently, it’s better this way.

I get it . . . mostly.


Parenting young adults can be a tricky business.

Particularly, navigating that teeny-tiny fine line we parents try to walk – that fine line between loving and enabling.

I struggle with fine lines; they are not my strong suit.

See, my middle name is Enabler.  I do it often and I do it well.  It appears to be my default setting as a mom.

My other name could be Chief Smotherer. (Yes, smotherer, that’s a real thing.)

It’s my husband who has to remind me (more often than I care to admit) that I need to back-off and let our young adult kids go it alone.

Let them Geronimo!!!!!!  Let them parachute off of the Cliff of Life.

But this momma doesn’t like Geronimo’s, because while they may sound all cool and MacGyver-ish, a “Geronimo” could mean death, intense emotional wreckage, and other regrettable outcomes that I’ve tried to shield them from all of their lives – and no superhero band-aid is going to fix that!

And then there’s the self-imposed mommy guilt . . .

There are times when I examine the spiritual condition of some of my adult kids, and in response (because I lose perspective and take my eyes off of God) I feel completely deflated as a mom; and I wonder if there’s something I’ve done wrong to cause or contribute to their behavior?

And let’s not forget the worry . . .

I worry for their safety.  I worry about their health.  I fear for their future.

I worry that one day I’ll discover that one of them has a rare bone disease (don’t laugh, I’ve seen it on TV).  I wonder if they’ll ever find a job that pays enough for them to move out of the house.  I worry that they’ll move out, marry, have kids and then one day move their family into my basement.  I worry that the sky will fall on them; that the earth will swallow them whole. Or maybe the Boogie Man is hiding under their bed, too.

Maybe this post should be called Confessions of a Crazy Lady?

Truth is, I’m prone to fear and doubt, and to carry crosses that I cannot bear; and if I don’t anchor myself to the truth of God’s word – this mama is not going to make it!

This year, I’ve been clinging to the truth of Romans 8:28:

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

This verse is my life preserver, my reassurance that God IS making something beautiful of my life, in spite of the challenges I face as a mom.

It’s my reminder that I have to trust God with my children and that He’s working in their hearts behind the scenes – in spite of themselves!  In ways I don’t know about or fully understand.


If you haven’t reached this stage of parenting yet and your parenting psyche is too fragile to handle this, don’t fret!

I’m not going to be the one to drop the ball . . . I’m going to do you the favor of erasing your memory.

Some truths are not meant to be revealed prematurely.

You can thank me later. 



 I’ve shared this post at these fabulous faith and family link-ups.

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  1. The title of this post caught my eye, my young adults are now early 30s and starting families – and i’m gonna tell you all your words of truth are right where us parents of adults are – and now grandchildren. I can’t – but He can. I can’t keep them all from all the pitfalls and hurts of this world – and He won’t because it is in them He will refine my babies and their babies. Oh but how the wrinkles and gray hair increase daily here as I baby step trust Him to see them through.

    • I’m baby step trusting Him, too, Paris…with a few extra grays as well! And yes, He definitely has the answers we need. ☺

  2. Tiffeny! i LOVE your post! I have two 18-year-olds who will graduate in a couple of months (!!) …and one who is almost 17. Yikes! (How do they say it … FEELS! … or is it … ALL THE FEELS … idk … anywho … YES! I keep telling them, Yes, you’re adults, but you’re not “independent adults” yet. Big difference. And I feel like we’re going backwards half the time. And my husband is also the one holding me back and encouraging them to make and find their own way. I appreciate you and your post … along with your great humor. Blessings on you this day! Visiting from G&T.

    • Hi Dianne! Did I hear that right? Virtually three kids approaching adulthood at once? Wow! God bless you. We’re kindred spirits in that regard. 🙂 Thanks for stopping over from G&T. It’s a wonderful linky community.

  3. The older ladies at my Bible study keep telling me that bigger kids just means bigger problems. Instead of staying up because babies are crying, moms with older kids stay up because they are the ones crying. We love our kids and never stop being a mom. My kids are still younger (the oldest is a teen), but I’m already starting to see this be true. I know I’ll continue to cling to Jesus because He is the only chance I have at surviving this parenting thing.

    • Hi Heather: the ladies at your Bible study are giving you some sage insight. I also see that you know where your help comes from: the Lord, which is why your plugged in to Bible studies AND you know to continue to cling to Jesus. I will be clinging with you, sister!

  4. I love this, Tiffiney! I have a 19 year old (20 in June), a 17 year old, and an “adopted” 22 year old, so yes, I get it! Thanks for your refreshing reassurance. Visiting from Grace and Truth.

    • Hey Betsy: according to the ages of your not-so-little people, you are about to be in the thick of it. Have fun with that! Memorize lots of Scripture and keep a bottle of hair dye on hand! 🙂

  5. Tiffiney, what a wonderful, heart-felt post! I have a 9yr old girl who I am trying to give her space. I think to myself, what kind of young lady will she grow into. The verse that I go to quite frequently is Isaiah 54:13 All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children. When it seems she won’t listen to us, I thank Jesus for teaching her! Heck, even when she does listen to me, I thank Him for teaching her! Thank you for sharing and thank you for the visit and sweet comment at The Dedicated House. Feel free to share this post at my Make it Pretty party which will be live Monday at 8:00am I took this week off from the party since we are on Spring Break. Here is the link to last week’s party if you want to peruse the links: Have a lovely weekend! Toodles, Kathryn @TheDedicatedHouse

    • Hi Kathryn!

      Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing that verse – Isaiah 54:13…I love it! God’s word is so wonderful and full of promises.

      It would be my joy to stop by and link up with you,


  6. Every kid-stage seems to be fraught with worry and obsession for us moms, right? Learning to give our kids to God has been my biggest learning curve, which is humbling given how often I tell my kids to trust God in all things! Great post, saying what all of us think! 🙂

    • Hi Carol! Yes, the irony of us telling our kids to trust God with their lives when we struggle to trust God with our kids! “Things that make you go hmmm.” Thanks for stopping by!

  7. I have three boys 15, 18, & 23. Our eldest son graduates from college in May and gets married in July! Letting go has been a challenge for me, but God is gently guiding me through the process!

    When my boys were little, my mother-in-love would tell me, “When they are little, they have little problems, and when they get big, they have bigger problems.” I had no idea how true that was until my boys started getting older!

    I started blogging in an attempt to help ease my transition from homeschooling to empty nesting! Thanks for sharing! I am so glad I found you today at the #Grace&Truth Linkup today. Blessings, Misty

    • Hi Misty! Wow, we’ve got a bit in common. Not only are we both emptying our nests, we both have a young adult whose marrying in July! My 19 year old daughter is tying the knot on July 5th. Motherhood is always an adventure. 🙂

  8. Tiffany,
    I loved your post. I can totally relate to each point. In fact this week I have been stuck in a place of mommy guilt regarding where they are each spiritually. Wondering where I went wrong, did I do enough, what more should I be doing.

    You are so right no one ever told us about raising adult children. Thank goodness or I would still be in bed.

    The enabler hits home too with me. We have added stressors due to adult children with mental illness, so the line gets even fuzzier.

    We need to all partner together as we navigate this path.

    Thank you for your post



    • Hi Maree! Thank you for your transparency. I’m learning that doubt about our parenting (were we good enough? did we do enough?) is a natural part of the process. I’m also learning to give that doubt to God, because it won’t help me one iota! I’m partnering with you in this stage of parenting; and I’ll be praying for you, too. Thanks for stopping by!

  9. I have three young adults too. They are close in age and all at college, but it’s still a full-time job even though they’re not at home! Helping them through flatmate problems, grades that were lower than they expected, theological issues – I know that sounds impressive, but they’re going to churches who promote different theological beliefs than they’ve been brought up with so lots of working through to do, and many more things. Funny, it makes those toddler years look so easy.

    • Hey Rachel, boy…when I think about it, I think I’d like to have your problems: kids in college (my boys said no, my girls said yes) and kids that go to church away from home…I’ll take it! I know, it’s so easy to think that the grass is greener on the other side. Lol! But I have to admit, that theological belief thing sounds interesting. I’d love to read a blog post on that one day. If you write it, link me! 🙂

  10. I have one in the tween stage and one that will be soon. Each season has its share of trauma and drama, that’s for sure. Thankfully, you are right and God will get us through each day!

  11. You are too funny, Tiffiney! I love the video spots you included in your post. They bring a little levity to a very scary and difficult topic, because I’m right there with you! My three sons are young adults and I’m still trying to walk that fine line of parenting–moving from being someone who can tell them what to do to being someone who lets them make their own decisions. Iy-yi-yi! It’s so tough. In fact, my 20 year old (and, in my view, the baby) had to move to California in September to follow his dream. And I sat back here in the Midwest breaking out in shingles because of it! But all that worrying and he seems to be doing great and growing up in ways that he couldn’t have if he’d stayed around here with all of my “smothering mothering” to keep him immature. Yikes! I’m praying for you, my dear! We can do this with the Lord encouraging our hearts! 😉

    • Hi Beth! “Smothering mothering” is too cute, as is the breaking out into shingles comment. It’s nice to make light of what’s painful and heavy sometimes. And your words ring true – Christ is the source of our strength through these parenting trials. Thanks for your encouragement and prayer.

  12. Oh Tiffany, it can be quite tiring and worrisome when the children will do differently than you thought them. I have to face that almost daily but like you I have some power verses that help me like; I will teach all your children, and they will enjoy great peace. Isaiah 54:13 NLT So while I still teach them physically speaking, I simply release them unto the Lord daily and trust God.

    • Oh Ugochi….release and trust…what wonderful advice! Thanks for that encouragement. It’s quite timely.

  13. I’m stopping by from Tuesday Talk. XOXO I have 4 kids in 4 different stages of childhood right now. When my son turned 12 I said to my mom that it couldn’t possibly get any more frustrating or worrisome. She just laughed and said that the worry and the urge to continue parenting adult children will never go away! Thank you for sharing your heart and thank you for linking up!

    • Hi Stefanie! I think you put your finger on something that I didn’t realize – parenting young adults is a stage that never ends because they will always be adults. The toddler stage ends and so does the teen stage. Thanks for stopping by!

  14. Great read. You are definitely not alone. There is a reason they say “little kids, little problems; big kids, big problems”. I never dreamed I would encounter so much more strife in my heart as my oldest two became adults. Biggest thing I’ve learned is to not take things too personally and only offer advice when it is asked for. I’ll let you guess which one was the hardest!! Now that I have my second set of kids in the teen stage I’m a lot more relaxed but still have some of these same worries and fears.

    Shelly|The Queen in Between

    • Shelly…please come to my house and hold my hand! I need you. You’ve said two of the most important things to remember – both of which get me into lots of trouble: don’t be so sensitive and offer advice only when asked. To my credit, I have learned not to be so thin skinned; but I’m still learning not to stick my big toe into their business when it’s not welcome. Oh well, can’t win ’em all. 🙂

  15. Well, I had this conversation on Friday. Even they told us, we wouldn’t understand – we weren’t ready.

    I’ve learned that after you’ve put in all the effort of raising your children, as young adults and adults the best possible thing you can do is prayer. That is the secret my friend and I’m not being cliche. More times than not I do not have the answers, but in praying I certainly do.

    stopping by from #momentsofhope

    • Hi Nylse, you sound just like my wise friend Deb from You’re spot on about prayer! If anyone tells you that as Christian parents, we won’t be equipped to parent well when they are young adults, they’re wrong! My point is not that you won’t understand or be ready – but rather that no one tells you these things – and to have a little fun while I point it out. But then, what are we talking about? I’ve already zapped you and cleared your memory. 🙂

    • “Emptying nest”…I love that phrase! Glad to have you as my neighbor, Michele. Thanks for stopping by!

  16. I’m a mama to two little ones, but I’m always interested in keeping my wits about me the more independent they get. Trust me, it has already started! 🙂 Love everything you have to say. ❤

    • Hello Laura of two little ones.

      Wits, yes, you will need a heaping serving of wits with a side of grace. But no worries, because our Father is awesome, and He’s always got our back! Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  17. Tiffiney, have I mentioned lately what a riot you are? I love this…and as a mom of a young adult just getting ready to graduate from high school and start a HUGE new season of her life, I am “amen, sister-ing” this whole piece. Thanks for the honesty and the kindred-spirit moment this morning!

    • Hey Elizabeth! Love hearing from you…my fellow sister in laughter. Your daughter’s HUGE new upcoming season sounds so exciting! I can’t wait to read what humor filled blog posts come out of that. 🙂

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