6 Ways I Connect With My Young Adult Children

I have six children between 20-26 years old, and while empty nesting has been a sweet time for my husband and me, it’s been an adjustment. We’ve had to be intentional with how we connect with our family. I no longer have them in my back seat on the way to sports practice or falling asleep on my bed watching a movie. I know some of their people, but not all of them. I know where they work, but only sometimes what they do. They are all grown up and are just starting what feels like the rest of their lives. We raised them with the dream they’d love God, each other, and us. Now that we’ve seen that become reality, what is the goal? Connection.

Here are some of the ways we intentionally bridge our world with theirs.


Sometimes, it’s my food, sitting out when they come over or tempting them to say yes to a family gathering. Sometimes, it’s them in their kitchen, trying to make pesto and wondering aloud to me over the phone how important pine nuts are to that recipe. Food has always been a bonder of people, and whether we are trying out a new restaurant or enjoying the places we built our family culture around, when in doubt about how to reach out to an adult child, we start with a meal.


I am classically a late adopter of technology and prefer a phone call to any other app on which communication happens. However, my adult children have a half dozen ways to message us and each other, and if I don’t learn to adapt, I might miss the message for the medium. So, I create usernames and jump in. The truth is I would use anything from carrier pigeon to Snapchat to say I love you. I see you. You are important.


We know from lots of good research that attachment is strengthened in play, so while the toys have changed over the years and now, they can all beat me in the games, I hope to maintain the spirit of play with my adult children. This means I am willing to learn disc golf or pickleball or whatever else has captured their attention so we can share those experiences together.


They’ve grown up in a Yelp culture with product reviews and influencers, so it’s natural for them to share favorite shows, music, or new purchases. I like knowing what they are filling their earbuds or Amazon carts with these days. It lets me in their world and gives me a chance to influence them still (and be influenced by them!)


Once upon a time, I had the answers to their questions, but these days, I get to share in their curiosities- about other cultures, current events, or spiritual wonderings. I want to know what they are interested in, so I try hard not to be quick with an opinion about everything or be a know-it-all… I’m working on having a posture that I’m still learning, too, both as a good role model and an interesting conversationalist.


This is how we built our family; on the foundation, God is personal and sovereign. I share with them my journey, not just what I’ve figured out, but where I am still wrestling. I know they will grapple and doubt in their lifetime. I know they’ll fall and need grace. I want them to see me be comfortable with a dynamic faith so that when those seasons come for them, they don’t consider abandoning their faith but recognize it as usual.

We live in a world increasingly designed to isolate us, and connection is critical for healthy families to engage in next-generation discipleship. This is the list I use; you may use gardening, your lake house, or a shared love of travel. You may connect over sports teams, pets, or crafting; it doesn’t matter what it is, just keep at it. Relationships are how family culture is protected. Fight for those moments of connection, learn who and what is in your adult child’s world, and be willing to cross any bridge needed to stay invested.

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