How to Give Advice to Older Children – ETB #89

Your older children are facing a world with so much chaos and conflicting information. If you’re like me, you want them to know what you think. You want to protect them from failure or pain. But whether your older children are teens, college-aged, young adults, or older, there comes a point when you can’t make them do or say the right thing. You can’t force them to navigate a situation well. These older children are now adults, or close to being adults. It’s a new season and you need to learn how to give advice to older children.

How to Give Advice to Older Children - ETB #89

My mom used to regularly say that she was going to give someone a piece of her mind. I used to silently (and not so silently at times) think that no one wants a piece of her mind! When your older children are in a difficult situation and you have opinions, it’s so easy to jump right to giving them a piece of your mind. But, there’s a better way!

First, let me encourage you with this. If you’ve been pouring God’s principles into your kids, that wisdom is still all inside of them. It can be painful to watch an older child not listen or seem to not listen to those years of guidance. Rest assured that the phrases you’ve said repeatedly and things you’ve taught them are inside their brains and hearts. Those things will come back to them in times of need.

Let the words you speak land in a tender place in their heart.

Connie Albers

There’s a better way to give advice to your older kids than to give them an unsolicited piece of your mind.

Wait for Them to Ask for Advice

I know that you desperately want your older kids to know what you think, but wait until they ask. Show them respect by restraining your mouth. Know the child you’re speaking to, regardless of their age. Give them a chance to learn to be a problem-solver. They need space to develop discernment. Sadly for us as the parent, this means watching our kids make some poor decisions as they learn these skills.

Ask If They’d Like Your Advice

Before you dish out that piece of your mind, pause and ask if your older child would like to know what you’re thinking. This also requires discernment on your part for good timing. When your older child is no longer living under your roof, gauging the best timing becomes more difficult. You must hold your thoughts for the right time. If necessary, write your thoughts down in a journal and hold them there until the time is right to share.

When the time is right to ask for permission to speak into a situation in your child’s life, try phrases like:

  • Would you like to know what I’m thinking about…?
  • Would you like to know how I’d encourage you in…?
  • Would you like to know some things to consider about…?
  • Would like like to hear a different perspective on…?

If you don’t ask permission first, your words are less likely to land in that tender place in their hearts and will instead be rejected. Timing is crucial to being heard. Wait for your kids to ask. If you can’t wait, then ask for permission to give your advice.

Pray for Your Older Children

Be fervent in praying for your older children. Pray for things like:

  • Protection
  • Discernment
  • Guidance
  • Someone who can say what you’d like to say

Be a sounding board for your older children. Let them know you’re praying for them. They need to know that you’re there for them. The fair-weather friends will disappear. Cancel culture will try to shut them down. But, I as your parent… I will always be here. I’m not going anywhere. I’m here.

I’ve walked through this season of life with my teens, my college-aged kids, and my young adult children. I assure you, it is possible to lead your children without saying a word. When they do invite you into their lives to share your thoughts and advice, handle that trust with care. Your long-term goal is to create rich, lasting relationships with your kids.

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How to Give Advice to Older Children - ETB #89