6 Ways to Know Your Adult Child is Maturing Well


We receive hundreds of thousands of inquiries every year from people seeking relationship and family advice – and among the top topics are moms and dads asking about their adult children.

 Our counselors have helped many parents concerned about their millennial-age kids: Should they take a year off from their studies? Why do they seem like they lack direction? Should they take on more responsibility? Why aren’t they looking to settle down?

It can be a challenging road to walk. As I recently wrote in my post about young adults living at home with their parents, the Bible is largely silent on the topic of adult children. Also, “extended adolescence” – what some call the “Peter Pan Syndrome” – is still a relatively new phenomenon. It’s no wonder parents feel like their relationships with their 20- and 30-something children seem a bit like uncharted territory.

Today I wanted to offer those parents some good insight prepared by Boundless, Focus’ outreach to young adults. As Boundless works out its mission to help Christian singles and young adults prepare for marriage and family, it uses six “maturity markers” as guides.

I think that these principles of mature living will help parents better discern their adult child’s situation because it cuts through the trappings of modern life. It also delves into the heart issues that should be a parent’s main concern. In other words, what may seem unconventional to you might still be producing good fruit. Conversely, the decisions the Millennial in your life is making may be what everyone’s doing – but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s what your daughter or son should be doing.

So, here are the six markers of maturity parents can teach their young kids, and encourage their older children to reach.

1. An ability to articulate and apply a biblical worldview

  • Living a life reconciled to God is paramount and the foundation for all relationships
  • Living a life transformed by the Gospel is the best way to share Christ
  • Knowing who you are in Christ will guide you in making life decisions and handling life’s disappointments

2. Accountable involvement in a Gospel-centered church community

  • Commitment to a local church is a biblical mandate and breeds accountability, mentorship, service and selflessness
  • People under the authority and instruction of a local church get to marriage more biblically and intentionally

3. Willingness to master life skills and shoulder responsibility

  • Being an adult means taking responsibility for yourself (and eventually others)
  • Work is good and should be done to the maximum of our ability and to the glory of God
  • A proper view of money and possessions brings freedom and joy

4. Is a contributor to the community and a leader in spheres of influence

  • Life is short. Be proactive. Get involved. Make a difference.
  • As a single, it’s easy to be self-centered. Instead, give of yourself to others.
  • Develop and steward time and abilities in a way that makes an impact
  • Leadership where you are now prepares you for leadership of a family later

5. Ability to sustain and grow healthy relationships with family, friends, neighbors and co-workers

  • Handle communication and conflict well
  • Love and bless others
  • Celebrate and appreciate the differences between men and women

6. Is actively pursuing marriage and family or the next stage of life

  • Understand God’s purpose for marriage and champion it
  • Dating is for marriage, not recreation. Be intentional.
  • Deal with the relational baggage that’s holding you back

I’m interested to know what you think about this list. How do your kids measure up? Do you think it’s complete? Is there any point you’d add or take away?

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Raquel Arriaga More than 1 year ago

-- Oops! It was Krob's statement I disagreed with and not Joejersey... Sorry.

Raquel Arriaga More than 1 year ago

-- Great list and reality check for me that I still need to mature in certain aspects of my life...not just my children. I don't agree with Joejersey in leadership in a family is irrelevant. Especially if both parents are in the picture.  I think a lot of the deteriation in our family culture has to do with women wanting to have the ultimate leadership roles in their families. I'm not saying women shouldn't have input and a voice, but that husbands are supposed to be ultimate leaders in their families. I know first hand because I tried to wear the pants in the family and realized I really don't want or need to. I can bet that the women who assume that role don't want it either. They want their husbands to step up to the plate, but it's been a power struggle for so long, that everyone just gives up and assumes the role the other placed on them.

kevin robbie More than 1 year ago

--I like what Cgeorge said regarding "number 4."  Maybe I missed the point of that comment but leadership is an intimidating concept. It imposes a great burden on people and can cause a lot of stress and anxiety as it does for me. Leadership is a role I'm not equipped to handle. As the other comment stated "Someone has to follow a leader." That's right. As for me, I'm a pretty good follower but a lousy leader. It's an ability I simply don't have. In my household, my wife has assumed the role of leader and she does a wonderful job of it because she possesses an innate skill which I just don't have. I hope you would agree that leadership from a woman is certainly better than none at all. In that context, the gender of the family's leader should be irrelevant.

Gene Amore More than 1 year ago

--Great list Jim. I agree with your 'work is good' point and would add/emphasize that work should be a reflection of our giftedness. We have completely abandoned the idea of work as the means to bless the world with the gifts & talents God has given us. 30 years as a 'corporate cube rat' has convinced me of that. We need to coach our kids, from a young age, to identify and develop their natural skills, talents & passions so that they look forward to the idea of learning and working as a natural extension of those gifts. I believe this is a big part of the 'why am I here' question. Thoughts?

Clarence Gardner More than 1 year ago

--Number 4.

Perhaps you could also emphasize for believers who are FOLLOWERS, in the best sense, those who are consistently faithful in the places God has put them, emphasize that not being a LEADER is ok.  Someone has to follow a leader.  Being faithful is what is required of a steward, not the amount of leadership he/she exhibits.  If the example of their accumulated experience of following Christ shows the fruit of the Spirit, the degree of leadership they give will work itself out.

My concern about emphasizing LEADERSHIP is the guilt trip it may send the average believer on.  It embodies the emphasis of DOING rather than being and becoming, both of which are readily accessible to anyone.  Just hearing the term "leadership" makes me want to run and hide from the demands it seems to make which are a long way beyond me.

You can probably subsume what I've said within your framework.  However, I am concerned that what our cultural understaning of LEADERSHIP "hears" when the word is used is not what you are trying to say.  You can explain what you mean by leadership, but most people will still find an cognitive dicotomy between what you are proposing and their gut reaction, based on their understanding culturally of leadership.

On the other hand, DISCIPLESHIP, being a disciple, being a disciple maker or being discipled, is a biblical term and is not used much in our culture.  Discipleship my be a better conceptual framework in which to develop the concepts of leadership`.