Three Gifts We Can Give to Our Adult Children this Mother's Day

Three Gifts We Can Give to Our Adult Children this Mother’s Day

When I was in college, my mother would mail small packages filled with improbable gifts. Her favorite was soap. Apparently, she believed there was none available in northeast Georgia, so she would, from her meager income, purchase soap and then pay for the postage to ship it to me.

Invariably, she would also send cookies along with the soap–cookies that managed to take on the flavor and odor of the soap on that long journey from Maine to Georgia. I don’t remember if I ever told her about that…

What is it about the connection between motherhood and the need to give?

What is it about the connection between motherhood and the need to give?

After holiday gatherings, I press leftovers on my sons as if they were facing certain starvation in their own very well-stocked kitchens. My kids don’t need me to cook for them anymore–although I’ve never known them to turn down a whoopie pie!

So what gifts can a mother give to her children–gifts that are relevant and meaningful? Let’s celebrate Mother’s Day 2023 with these three:

The Gift of an Attentive Audience

It’s been a long time since we sat in the bleachers to watch ball games or track meets, concerts or musical productions, but even so, we’re still an attentive audience to their big moments. Whether it’s a promotion at work or a newly built henhouse, we’re glad to hear about it, glad to know all the details, and we’re tuned in to listen to all the glory moments.

It’s also true that we give a gift to our children when, as much as possible, we organize our lives in such a way that we’re available to their children, our grandchildren. For me, this means I work as a substitute teacher, a job I can say no to if my daughter-in-law needs a break–or if it’s a gorgeous day and the playgrounds of MidCoast Maine are calling to us! I want to listen to my grandkids’ stories, cheer for their bicycle-riding, chapter-book-reading, Lego-building accomplishments, and let them know how important they are to me and to the God who made them.

The Gift of a Sounding Board

We decided long ago that we’d refrain (as much as possible) from giving unsolicited advice to our adult kids. They know how to find us if they want our input, so whenever they come to us, we try to listen first. Open-ended questions keep them talking so we can discover exactly what’s at stake, and most of the time what they’re really looking for is not an answer but just a place to process out loud all the good thoughts they already have about their decision-making process.

In None Like Him, Jen Wilkin warns readers against the tendency to usurp the incommunicable attributes of God — those qualities of deity that are his alone. Nowhere is this more of a temptation for me than in parenting. God will stop at nothing to pour his holiness, justice, and patience into the love I have for my kids, but what I really covet is his sovereignty. When I become “wise in my own sight,” in awe of my own cobbled-together wisdom, I am rescued from this misplaced awe by the truth that God’s wisdom flows from his unlimited authority.

By entrusting my family to God’s sovereign plan for each member, I am enabled to release the death grip on my desire to control and manage things from my limited perspective.

The Gift of Respectful Boundaries

“It’s an invitation, not a summons” is a phrase that’s found its way into our family’s vocabulary, and it’s motivated by Paul’s words to believers in a fledgling church in Rome:

If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

Romans 12:18

The old adage “Good fences make good neighbors” applies to families as well. An invitation is not a summons, and missing a family gathering is not a shun-able offense. Rejecting unrealistic expectations, refusing to manipulate with guilt, and saying no to the insidious tendency to keep score (as if our fellow in-law counterparts are the competition) are all ways of declaring war in this battle for peace. And because each temptation is subtle and inward, they are the part that “depends on me” with the Spirit’s enablement.

To be sure, I have been married longer than my kids and their spouses have been alive, I have parented a number of children, and I could devise all manner of additional rationalizations for playing the mum card, offering gratuitous advice, or harboring resentment. But if I want to live peaceably with my sons and their families, I must respect the God-given boundaries that have been established since the words leave and cleave drifted from the mouth of God into Eden’s clear air.

Extend Grace. Take Grace.

The further time carries me from those soapy cookies, the more tenderly I view the effort Mum made, and the more grace I extend to the memory of her efforts to be helpful and giving.

The more aware I become of my own mothering failures, the more grace dependent I become, and the more I appreciate the forbearance of my kids and their willingness to laugh at my idiosyncrasies. If the words on my tombstone are simply, “She meant well,” and my family realizes that I truly did, I will be grateful.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Holding You in the Light,

Celebrate Mother’s Day 2023 with these three gifts to your adult children: The gift of an attentive audience, the gift of a sounding board, and the gift of respectful boundaries.

Did You Know that I Also Publish a Monthly Newsletter?

Every month I send a newsletter with biblical encouragement straight to my subscribers’ email inboxes. Frequently, I share free resources, and the newsletter is where everything lands first. I’m committed to the truth that women can become confident followers of God and students of his Word, and it’s my goal to help you along that path.

To add this free resource to your pursuit of biblical literacy, simply CLICK HERE. There, on Substack’s website, you’ll find a prompt that looks just like this image for Living Our Days with Michele Morin. Over on that site, simply enter your email and then click on the purple “SUBSCRIBE” button.

You’ll receive a welcome letter to confirm your subscription and monthly encouragement in your email inbox.

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees. If you should decide to purchase any of the books or products I’ve shared, simply click on the image, and you’ll be taken directly to the seller. If you decide to buy, I’ll receive a few pennies at no extra cost to you.

Photo by Timothy Dykes on Unsplash

16 thoughts on “Three Gifts We Can Give to Our Adult Children this Mother’s Day”

  1. Thanks for this Michelle. I do try to live these principles. I do tend to give unsolicited advice probably more than I should but usually give with a disclaimer – “take what you need and leave the rest.” Right now I find myself at odds with two of my children and can only hope and pray that someday they will come to that realization “she meant well.”


    1. I’m so sorry to hear about the rift with two of your children. Very painful and hard to know exactly how to rectify a situation–even harder to wait for resolution. Praying for you right now, and trusting with you for unity and peace.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. … And now I’m making a mental note to make sure NOT to pack soap with anything edible when I send care packages to my college boy. LOL. I’m pretty lucky that both my and my husband’s families have been pretty good at all 3 of these so I’m finding this transition easier to make myself than I ever thought I would (of course it doesn’t hurt that right now they are quite open to listening to any opinions I have once they consult me).


  3. this is just so excellent, Michele. each and every word. i’m still learning this art of loving wisely. when all is said and done, they do a better job of parenting than i ever did. i’m in awe. and all i want to do is love them well and be their most avid prayer warriors and cheerleaders.


  4. Great advice. We made the same discovery with dryer sheets in care packages to college students from the church ladies’ group. 🙂

    I think I’ve finally trained myself to suggest to adult children rather than “tell”–“You might think about…” But even that I need to reign in most times and wait to be asked.

    We do love hearing about the goings-on in their lives. I’m so thankful they like to keep in touch and there are so many ways to do so. I remember when I could only call my mom long distance once a month after I moved away from home.


  5. Aw, Michele … I LOVE this so much. Your daughters-in-law are blessed to have you as their MIL. And the soapy cookie story is priceless! Keep sharing your parenting wisdom, friend … I need to hear it!


    1. I can’t begin to express how dear your encouragement is to me. It’s so encouraging to know that you are reading and finding sustenance for your own parenting journey.


  6. I appreciate your wisdom for parenting adult children and the stories and details that make your insights memorable. Thank you, Michele. Your comment about mid coast Maine brings some nostalgia for sure, though I grew up on the coast farther south.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.