Monday, January 12, 2015

When Your Adult Child Cohabits

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According to Pew Research, 9.2% of adults age 18 to 29 were cohabiting in 2011, and 7% of adults age 30-44 were cohabiting in 2009. As Christian parents, we need to be aware of how to guide our children in godly behavior, not only when they are eighteen and under, but also throughout their adult lives.

Do not allow them to share a bed in your home. This will most likely cause a fight, especially if they have children with their partner, or if you previously allowed them to share a bed. However, you need to be clear that you will not enable sin in your home, and while they are in your home, they need to follow your household rules. Be firm in this, and do not compromise.

Remember that the way to respond will depend on their faith. If they are Christian, they are already aware of God's Law, and the situation is simply a matter of recognizing and being convicted of their sin in this particular matter. If they are not Christian, however, they need to become aware of their overall sin and need for God's forgiveness before their actions change.

Be open and honest. Make it clear that you do not approve of their behavior, whether in your home or out of it. Share your Scriptural reasoning for disapproving. Don't avoid the topic when it comes up.

Be loving to them and their partner. There is no need to be hateful to your child or their partner because you disapprove of their behavior. Fostering a relationship with them without condoning their actions allows you the opportunity to share the Law (and later, the Gospel). Refusing to relate to your child's partner may lead to your child refusing to relate to you, and it is difficult to parent and minister to your child if no active relationship exists.

Do not try to control their behavior outside of your home, but keep in mind your powers of influence. Within your home, you have jurisdiction. Within their home, they have jurisdiction. You can, however, refuse to stay in their home while they share a bedroom. This places the choice in their hands: they temporarily cease their sinful behavior, or they miss an opportunity in the relationship.

Support and forgive them when they repent. Do not withhold forgiveness when they repent. Once the Holy Spirit convicts them of their sin, tell them they are forgiven. Then support them by helping them plan and implement the necessary change, be it marriage, moving out, or breaking up. 

Parents were given responsibility for their children not only through childhood and adolescence, but all throughout their lives. What parenting looks like varies depending on the stage of life, but no matter what stage your child is in, you are called by God to support, teach, and set an example for him or her in life and faith.

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