Get Real: Parenting Millennials Requires Authenticity and Vulnerability

Parenting Millennials

A godly woman once shared, “Laura, you will always love your children more than your parents.” I was startled and a bit horrified by that statement back then but have come to understand it as I’ve grown older. The sad reality: our children may never understand our love for them until they become parents themselves.

Parenting adults of any generation is inherently challenging. Lots of good advice has been shared and all of it is sound—pray before responding, give advice only after the second request, and just choose to “let it go.” Parenting 21st-century adult children brings new layers of unique challenges. My advice summed up on a bumper sticker would read, “Shut up and pray!”

Millennials are shaped by many cultural drivers and beliefs—postmodernism, technology, and a rapidly shaping economy. They are tech savvy, health conscious, and tend to be skeptical and distrustful of authority. Reaching, teaching, and loving them means abandoning the more authoritative techniques of our own parents or grandparents. We reach their hearts with truthfulness and vulnerability as we share our own struggles and victories.

Behavior Must Back-up Your Belief

He may not have been targeting Christians or parents, but Ralph Waldo Emerson was right: “Your actions speak so loudly, I cannot hear what you are saying.” If our beliefs are not backed up by our behavior, our children are likely to reject our faith. We are written off as counterfeits or hypocrites. Do we preach forgiveness but hold family grudges for years? Do we sing praise to King Jesus on Sunday but worship stuff and pleasure the other six days? We cannot teach what we do not own. We can’t pour out of an empty pitcher. God uses parenting to call us to be all in for Him. Our children are watching.

Your Messes Are Your Messages

Getting real doesn’t mean you always get it right. Modeling perfection is impossible. Our personal stories of failure, getting it wrong, owning our mess-ups, and cycling back to seek forgiveness and make it right are stories that resonate. They make us real. They demonstrate a willingness to be authentic and to change. It’s the gospel lived out loud. Our circumstances do not dictate our reality. Redemption in Christ means we are not locked into who we used to be. And through Christ we are ever changing into who we can be in Him.

Talk Technologically

No, I’m not suggesting you take a computer science class or become an IT expert. But I am pushing you to jump into the world of technology. Communication is the foundation of every relationship. If you’ve refused to text, employ social media, check email, or even buy a cell phone, you’ve chosen to handicap relationships with your children and grandchildren. Yes, it’s hard to learn new things. Howerver, knowing your children and speaking through a medium they will listen to is worth it. Enter into their world. Learn to communicate their way. The day-to-day communication will keep the connection going between those delightful face-to-face times we treasure.

Are you ready to get real?

Laura Macfarlan endeavors to live authentically and intentionally as she and her husband Kevin parent their four adult children and one GRANDdaughter. You can connect with Laura at

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