When our children become adults, we can’t hold them on our laps and protect them like we used to. We need new strategies for caring for them. And the most important strategy of all is to lift up our adult sons and daughters in prayer and place them in the heart of God. When we do so, God’s love is unleashed–in them and in us. God can replace our worries and discouragement with refreshment and hope. This book is a real treasure, one that parents and grandparents will want to read again and again. Each chapter ends with a series of questions for reflection and introduces a prayer skill” that will enable parents to persist in prayer and try new ways of praying for their adult sons and daughters.
All of us who are parents have concerns at one time or another about our adult sons and daughters. And that’s natural. After all, even though our children are now grown, it wasn’t so long ago that we held them in our arms. Remember how good that felt? Just think of all the times you lifted your child from a crib, high chair or car seat. Once your child became too heavy to lift and hold, you still found ways to cherish him. Maybe he or she sat on your lap or beside you. Still later, you held that child in your heart while providing rides, food, clothing and homework assistance.
With each act of parenting, a link was forged between you. Even today, that bond is still a part of your own identity, long after your child has reached his twenties, thirties or forties. And you still want to hold on, even after your grown child has picked up the last box of belongings and carried it out the front door.
This is a good desire. But now that our children are adults, we need new strategies for holding on to them, for lifting them up and for paying attention to them, especially as their needs overwhelm us. We believe that the most important strategy of all is to lift up our adult children in prayer and place them in the heart of God. We also believe that Jesus our Savior is willing to help with the “heavy lifting”! Through him we can raise up our sons and daughters to the Father in prayer. And through prayer, God’s love, both for us and for them, is unleashed. We are able to replace our concern with a love that comes from the heart of God. When we lift up our adult sons and daughters and let go, God can move mountains of worry and discouragement. And in their places, God can bring us both refreshment and delight.
In this book, we will encourage you to stop and ask for the Holy Spirit’s guidance and to surrender to the new freedom that Jesus wants to give you in prayer. As you do, God’s gift of prayer will bring growth in love as well as peace, wisdom, patience, forgiveness and joy. Your prayers will bring many blessings, seen and unseen. In God’s presence, as you experience his gentle love and care, you will be able to face your struggles with difficult feelings like fear and guilt. Your prayer of surrender will become a fruitful tool, born of sacrificial love, empowering you to build more successful relationships with your adult daughters and sons.
Throughout this book, we will meet parents who have prayed for their adult sons and daughters. There’s the mother of the sons of Zebedee, who approached Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel (20:20). There are canonized parents like Elizabeth Seton (1774-1821), who stormed heaven with prayers for the spiritual and moral well-being of her two sons. There are godly parents like Agostino and Stella Cabrini, who raised an ocean-crossing missionary, St. Frances Cabrini (1850-1917), even though they themselves were so afraid to leave their hometown that they failed to collect a sizable inheritance. We have also included ordinary people who use Scripture, the Rosary, the psalms and even photos to lift up their children to God. Finally, we share our own insights from praying for our five children (whose names have been changed to retain their privacy).
So let’s begin. Let’s lift up our grown sons and daughters into the presence of Jesus and into the heart of a loving God. Let’s remember that in Jesus, all things are possible. Let’s dare to seek more of God’s love to give our children. Then let’s encourage others to seek more of God’s love, not only for their adult sons and daughters, but for their nieces, nephews and grandchildren as well.