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You Never Stop Being a Parent, Thriving in Relationship with Your Adult Children

Jim Newheiser and Elyse Fitzpatrick team up to address an often ignored but vital topic concerning relationships with adult children. Although the book was written in 2010 its message is still relevant. A few quoted statistics are obviously out of date, but since most of the advice is grounded in Scripture and the cross (p. 13), its message is timeless. Nevertheless, many of the problems and situations addressed in this book are unique to recent times. Boomerang kids, young adults who return home, and the Peter Pan Syndrome, in which many simply do not want to grow up, are a rather modern phenomenon. Chapter three addresses these concerns, but not before first laying down important principles that need to be taught while children are growing up (chapter two).

Chapter five specifically calls for adult children who are still in their parents’ home to work as hard as their parents, follow rules, and accept consequences that parents prescribe, and for parents to evict their young adult children if they live foolishly or begin to accumulate debt. Since well-intentioned parents want to help their adult children, discussion as to when aiding too much feeds an entitlement mentality (pp. 104-106) and/or circumvents the Lord’s work in their lives is important (p. 109). At other times rebuke may be necessary, but pleading rather than strong confrontation is preferred (p. 110). And even removing an offspring from the home does not mean total shunning (p. 113).

Money is at the heart of many conflicts and the authors wisely included a chapter (eight) on the money maze, warnings concerning debt, and lending to adult children. The final chapters address difficult matters such as bad romantic choices, refusal to be involved with parents and in-laws, and the joys and opportunities of grandparenting (pp. 154-160).

Four appendixes are included: “Resolving Conflict with In-laws,” “Children Caring for Parents,” the gospel, and “Sample Contracts with Young Adults.” Three of these appendixes are helpful but, sadly, the one on the gospel, written by Fitzpatrick, is weak at best. For whatever reason, she shies away from words such as sin, never mentions repentance, and speaks of the Lord “helping” us numerous times, rather than telling the reader that He died in our place to deliver us from sin and its consequences. This appendix is easily the weakest link in the book. Other than this anemic gospel presentation, You Never Stop Being a Parent is a valuable and recommended book.

by Jim Newheiser and Elyse Fitzpatrick (New Jersey: P & R Publishing Company, 2010) 209 pp, paper, $14.99

Reviewed by Gary E. Gilley, Pastor-teacher at Southern View Chapel