Mailbag Monday: Adult Children Living at Home

Mailbag Mondays - Our answers to readers' questions
Dear Jennifer,

I thoroughly enjoyed your book, Love Your Husband — so much so that I bought a few extra to pass out! I was tremendously encouraged by it!! Thank you!!

I appreciate how you incorporate motherhood into the picture!! I went into marriage knowing and wanting to be the wife God wants me to be, but — like you talk about — I got blinded by pregnancies and babies, etc.

I had no good encouragement, but was surrounded by bad advice and examples… my heart aches that I was so stupid!

Mostly, I am writing to ask your advice on an issue I am reaping with my oldest son of 23. Just wondering if you think an adult child living at home should basically show the same type of respect as a wife? (Dad has asked him to be home to take care of all his business because he has been very sick.)

Adult children still living at home. What is their responsibility toward their parents?

My son thinks he needs to tell his father when he is not acting the way he should, like he would do for a brother in Christ. My husband most certainly does not want anyone living in his household not respecting him. I’ve tried to plead with my son to let God work on this, but he disagrees because he feels it is his responsibility as a brother in Christ.

How would you handle this situation?


Dear Joan,

Thanks for your sweet words of encouragement. I apologize for taking so long to answer your question. I am always dreadfully behind on responding to emails.

Focus on the Family ran an article on adult children living at home the same week you wrote. Did you happen to see it? If not, here is a link: Three Things Parents of Adult Children in the Home should Consider

I’m not sure from your letter whether it is your son or your husband who has been ill. Not that it matters. Either way, one obviously needs the help of the other.

You are right in urging your son to pray for his father. As an adult, he should (theoretically) be able to speak to his dad as he would a Christian brother; however, he is still obligated to “speak the truth in love” and to remain respectful of his father at all times.

If he is unable to say what he thinks his father needs to hear in a way that communicates that deep respect and appreciation — or if your husband cannot abide to acknowledge the truth (spoken in love) of what he is saying — then your son should pray that God would send another messenger to whom his father will listen.

Incidentally, I’ve written another marriage book since publishing the one you’ve been reading. The newer one is called 25 Ways to Communicate Respect. It is written for wives, but most of the tips would also be appropriate ways for a child (of any age) to show respect to his parents. Things such as:

  • Honoring their wishes
  • Not interrupting
  • Being grateful
  • Keeping the house tidy
  • Praying for them
  • Spending time together
  • Not arguing
  • Protecting their reputations
  • Forgiving their shortcomings
  • Not complaining

You can find the complete list here, as well as a list for husbands here, which contains many tips that would be appropriate for parent/child relationships, as well.

It may be that the situation has already resolved somewhat. I certainly pray it has.

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