All of us who are parents have concerns at one time or another about our adult sons and daughters. And that’s natural.
After all, even though our children are now grown, it wasn’t so long ago that we held them in our arms. Remember how good that felt? Just think of all the times you lifted your child from a crib, high chair, or car seat. Once your child became too heavy to lift and hold, you still found ways to cherish him. Maybe he or she sat on your lap or beside you. Still later, you held that child in your heart while providing rides, food, clothing, and homework assistance.
With each act of parenting, a link was forged between you. Even today, that bond is still a part of your own identity, long after your child has reached his or her twenties, thirties, or forties. And you still want to hold on, even after your grown child has picked up the last box of belongings and carried it out the front door.
This is a good desire. But now that our children are adults, we need new strategies for holding on to them, for lifting them up, and for paying attention to them, especially as their needs overwhelm us. We believe that the most important strategy of all is to lift up our adult children in prayer and place them in the heart of God. We do this because our children are God’s children first. We also believe that Jesus our Savior is willing to help with the “heavy lifting”! Through him we can raise up our sons and daughters to the Father in prayer. And through prayer, God’s love, both for us and for them, is unleashed. We are able to replace our concern with a love that comes from the heart of God. When we lift up our adult sons and daughters and let go, God can move mountains of worry and discouragement. And in their places, God can bring us both refreshment and delight.
Stop and ask for the Holy Spirit’s guidance and surrender to the new freedom that Jesus wants to give you in prayer. As you do, God’s gift of prayer will bring growth in love as well as peace, wisdom, patience, forgiveness, and joy. Your prayers will bring many blessings, seen and unseen. In God’s presence, as you experience his gentle love and care, you will be able to face your struggles with difficult feelings like fear and guilt. Your prayer of surrender will become a fruitful tool born of sacrificial love, empowering you to build more successful relationships with your adult daughters and sons.
So take heart. When we pray for grown sons and daughters, God unleashes the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit. God intervenes in family life. God offers us new intimacy with our children. God helps us to see our grown children as adult companions on a lifelong journey to heaven. Even if our children are in pain or in danger or if they no longer go to church, God’s love for them and for us is without boundaries or limits. As we pray for them in the name of the Father, in the presence of the Son, and in the power of the Holy Spirit, things will happen. God will be present in ways we cannot even imagine.
Let’s lift up our grown sons and daughters into the presence of Jesus and into the heart of a loving God, remembering that in Jesus, all things are possible. Let’s dare to seek more of God’s love to give our children. Then, let’s encourage others to seek more of God’s love, not only for their adult sons and daughters, but for their nieces, nephews, and grandchildren as well.
Blessed Marie of the Incarnation is an example of a praying parent who knew what it was to place a child in God’s care. After her husband’s death, she left France and her eleven-year-old son, Claude, to become an Ursuline missionary in Quebec. She and her son missed each other terribly. But she placed him in God’s care and surrendered him and herself to God’s will often. In 1651 she wrote, in a letter to her son, “God has wonderful treasures of goodness for simple souls who trust themselves to him. You must believe that we have a God who cared for us in every minute of the past, and who will continue to do so in the future.”
God calls us to surrender our lives and the lives of our grown sons and daughters in prayer. When we do so, we offer God one of the most meaningful sacrifices of all. We lift up our children from the depths of our hearts and place them in God’s heart. We step aside from our feelings and step away from loving them alone. We become like Blessed Marie, or Abraham, willing to let go of our own flesh and blood for the sake of God’s love. This means letting go of a person who has been an intimate part of our lives physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It means sacrificing not only a son or daughter, but the years spent providing for them. For all of us, prayerful surrender acknowledges God as the ultimate source of all goodness and hope. God alone can love our children, through us or in spite of us.
This is a selection from Praying for Our Adult Sons and Daughters by John and Therese Boucher (The Word Among Us Press, 2012). Available at www.wau.org/books