parenting adults

Set boundaries, not rules. The important transition to parenting adults

We have rules for our children when they’re kids. But as they grow up, those rules turn into boundaries. It’s an important transition to make when parenting adults.

Connie Sokol shares how to flip the switch from setting rules to setting boundaries.

Find Connie’s podcast, and tips for setting boundaries, at


Setting Boundaries With Adult Children

Decide YOUR boundaries first.

First, acknowledge this is a different STAGE of parenting–you don’t stop being a parent, you are just parenting differently, and it’s all part of the plan.

Decide what five to 10 rules, boundaries, or expectations you have for your children.

If you’re married, with your spouse determine some of the key categories:

  • Decide a time limit of how long they’ll stay and the parameters (need to be enrolled in school, have a full-time job, curfew, friends, gaming, etc.)
  • Determine if they will live at home. If so, do they pay rent, do chores? How will they contribute?
  • Helping financially is not always bad

Good boundaries keep them progressing. They should move your child forward, even if it’s uncomfortable. Which it will be.

Set the expectations clearly

Have a lunch and talk about this new stage. Set it up like, “these three things are not up for input, these three things we would love your input on.” Be specific–don’t shy away from hard things.

 Create an atmosphere of respect. It should be a reciprocal relationship rather than a teaching parent.

Sustain the boundaries–use love and candor as you rinse and repeat

Let your adult child take the lead. Let go of the need to have things be just so. Let them organize family dinners, give input on handling situations, etc.

Offer opportunities to get together, but don’t guilt trip them if they can’t.

Validate: don’t rescue them, but instill confidence that you know they can solve their problem, because they typically can. Ask questions, don’t give solutions. “What do you see is the real problem?” “What are some ways you’re thinking to solve it?”

Enjoy them! This is a fabulous stage to enjoy, seeing them get their wings and figure out life. Reassure them that they can do this.