How do you go from being a parent to a mentor with your adult children?

August 18, 2013 under Syllabus 2013-2014



As our children get older, our interaction with them changes. No longer can our values and ideas be imprinted on them by virtue of being the parent. Can you remember when you left home? When you spread your wings? How did your parents react to you? As children age, they bring their own mindsets to the family relationship, life in general and beyond. This can be especially difficult if their values, ideas and mores tend be different, sometimes substantially different than yours. It may something as simple as moving out and leaving the area or as significant as having members of the opposite sex other moving in with the now adult child, to variation in life styles.


Typically, as a child moves into adulthood, their ideas and ways of doing things can and usually are substantially different than yours. As our children age, like we age, they change, like we change. It seems that a parent often moves more from the guiding hand on the shoulder to the dispenser of wisdom and information as to how the world really works. All too often, in trying to understand the adult child’s mentality and life, there can be alienation between the parent and the offspring. It is almost as if there is resentment for bringing up your values.

The challenge is how to still be a parent, with all of our values, and still be a mentor, parent and sometimes even a friend to your child when their values are different, sometimes dramatically different than yours. As parents, we have developed our value system over a period of time, and our now grown children, especially those out of college are starting to develop theirs.

There is an old joke about a young man talking about his father and remarking to a friend that when he was in high school, he thought his father might have been dumber than a box of rocks, but when the young man graduated from college, he was amazed at how much his father had learned. There may be a lot of truth in that old “saw”. From the sometimes rebellious years of high school, to the realization that a child has a vast amount of unlearned information, this seems like a good time to focus on what your values are. The most important thing is to let your adult child know that you are there for them and although you may disagree with some of the things they do, you are always the parent.

Bible Readings

1. Tobit 4: 5-6

Through all the days my son, keep the LORD in mind, and suppress every desire to sin or to break his commandments. Perform good works all the days of your life, and do not tread the paths of wrong doing. For if you are steadfast in your service, your good works will bring success, not only to you, but also to those who live uprightly.

2. Ephesians 6: 1- 4

Children, obey your parents [in the Lord], for this is right.a “Honor your father and mother.”b This is the first commandment with a promise, “that it may go well with you and that you may have a long life on earth.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up with the training and instruction of the Lord.c

V. Conclusion

Catechism Readings

1. Paragraph 2199

The fourth commandment is addressed expressly to children in their relationship to their father and mother, because this relationship is the most universal. It likewise concerns the ties of kinship between members of the extended family. It requires honor, affection, and gratitude toward elders and ancestors. Finally, it extends to the duties of pupils to teachers, employees to employers, subordinates to leaders, citizens to their country, and to those who administer or govern it.

This commandment includes and presupposes the duties of parents, instructors, teachers, leaders, magistrates, those who govern, all who exercise authority over others or over a community of persons.

2. Paragraph 2208   

The family should live in such a way that its members learn to care and take responsibility for the young, the old, the sick, the handicapped, and the poor. There are many families who are at times incapable of providing this help. It devolves then on other persons, other families, and, in a subsidiary way, society to provide for their needs: “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”12

Small Group Questions

1. Think back to a mentor that was helpful to you? Did he/she tell you what to do or listen and let you talk?

2. Do you model the type of behavior that you would like your children to have as they become older?

3. Do you have any family members that mentored you as you aged?

4. If your father is alive, how is your relation with him?

5. Could you talk to your father when you were young? How about now?

6. What do you wish you knew when you were younger that you know now? Can you give your children that information?

Recommended Resources

1. Life’s Little Instruction Book, H. Jackson Brown, 500+ suggestions, observations and reminders on how to live a happy and rewarding life.


1. This week would be a good time to start to talk to your child about life and responsibilities


Original: Jack Gauche/Bob Considine; Updated: Rich DelCore

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