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Adult children need boundaries too
Stephen Ministry
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There is hardly anything more painful for a parent or grandparent than to watch our grown children experience major problems. Whether the problem is gradual, continuous or unexpected, it is gut wrenching for parents and grandparents to watch children suffer.
We feel betrayed because, as parents, we’ve tried to practice all the right things for our kids. We’ve supplied what we believe is unconditional love. We’ve offered forgiveness for inappropriate behavior time and time again. We’ve provided plenty of encouragement and tangible help to give them countless fresh starts. But the pain continues as, time after time, adult children accept the help and promise, “this will be the last time.”
But, again and again, they make bad choices and falls flat on their faces. And, yet again, there is no one to come to the rescue — except their parents!
On one level, as a parent, you may feel guilty and, in many ways, responsible, for your child’s wrong choices. Yet you know, in your heart, that the child’s behavior or lifestyle doesn’t deserve your support. But you say to yourself, “their potential does.” Parents convince themselves once again that their children will finally take advantage of the clean slate you have given them. Parents look for their children to demo nstrate a  new beginning and live lives that warrant our joy, full support and encouragement. And then the destructive, dysfunctional behavior begins again.
At times like these, the enemy tempts us to believe and doubt ourselves. “If I’d been a better parent, this wouldn’t be so.” “If I had read my Bible more, prayed more and lived more according to His word, God would have protected my child.” And the classic, “ If I’d been less busy, spent more time with them, I could have stopped this before it got to this point.”
I wonder how many parents and grandparents are staring at photos of their loved ones, trying to make sense of a messy situation and understand how so many things have gone wrong. There are no easy answers for how we arrived at places of frustration in our lives. We thought we did the best we could at the time, and there’s no way to alter the past.
How many of us have been — and continue to be — “enablers” of our children’s disastrous choices? How many of us are so wracked with pain and guilt that letting others in on “our secret” is unthinkable?
This may sound discouraging, but the good news is we can do something to alter the future. We can take back our lives now.
Whether your child is 18 or 50, there are steps you can take to free yourself from the overwhelming bondage of guilt, fear, shame, anger, frustration, grief and denial. The feelings of being used and disrespected, of allowing your personal boundaries to be trampled can stop right now. We cannot change other people; we can only change ourselves and how we respond to good and bad behavior in our lives. Are you ready to set your own boundaries, and gain your life back?
If your grown kids make your life miserable, then why are you still handing over money to take care of their problem? Why pay their bills? Why make excuses? It’s you who has to change — not them. Being hard on yourself serves no purpose and is counterproductive to the changes that need to be made.
A Stephen Minister can help you cope with the stress, pain and emotional upheaval of setting boundaries and restoring peace in your everyday life. You are not alone. A Stephen Minister will listen carefully and walk with you through your time of need. They are trained and ready to deal with many of life’s most difficult problems through confidential Christian caregiving.

Sessions with Stephen ministers are one-on-one, confidential and gender-sensitive. If you or someone you know could benefit from the help of a Stephen minister, call Scherer at 320-7840 for an appointment. To learn more about the global Stephen Ministry program, go to

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