Parenting the Stupid Years: How to Navigate Through Your Adult Children’s Bad Decisions By: Dale Collver

What Just Happened?

It was a Sunday afternoon and we had just finished our family dinner with all of our kids and extended family. Each Sunday we have all our kids, their boyfriends, bonus daughter, and her boyfriend over for dinner and family time. This particular week we were at our bonus daughter’s house. It was time to leave but first, we needed to do the highs and lows from the last week.

When we got to the oldest daughter, she shared that she was asked to be the girlfriend of a co-worker who is also a female. She was happy to share that she said yes. Everyone in the room turned and looked at me. “What will he say? What will he do?”

I did not react. As my wife and I left, we hugged everyone and let them know we loved them. Inside we felt the gut punch. We mourned because we knew the enemy was trying to destroy her.

What Would Jesus Say?

In the next few months, we learned that there would be a wedding. A year later, my daughter married this girlfriend. Yes, we did talk to her about her decision and asked if this was God’s best for her. Is God’s best spouse a non-Christian lesbian? She said she talked to God, and they were good.

She asked me if I would walk her down the aisle and do the father-daughter dance with her. I prayed and read my Bible earnestly for a year about this. My personal conclusion was that I cannot, as the spiritual leader in my family, hand over my mantle of leadership to another woman for my daughter. So, I did not walk her down the aisle.

We discussed God’s Word and my undying love for her, and I would always be here for her and love her. I won’t always agree with her decisions, but I will always love her.

The Dance

While I couldn’t walk her down the aisle, I realized that I would gladly dance with my princess anytime she asked. I told her I would be glad to dance the father-daughter dance with her.

Before I went out to dance with her, my wife told me to invite her new wife at the end of the song to dance with us. I said a hard, “NO.” As I was walking away, my wife said, “listen to your heart.”

So, at the end of our song, I invited her up to dance with us. I hugged her as well and with tears in her eyes, she said, “It is like my daddy is here.” You see, she lost her dad when she was a little girl. There was a massive emptiness in her due to not having a father.

As I danced with my baby girl and her wife, I looked around the room and there was not a dry eye in the place. People could only assume how hard this was for me, yet the love of Christ compelled me to love my child. Just as Jesus does with us.

Stay Engaged

Dads, we have the responsibility to raise our children in the knowledge of the Lord. When they are in the home, it is up to you to teach them.

Then, when they grow up and move out, our role changes. We are more like advisers. When we are invited in, we can give wisdom. If we lecture them, they will not receive it. When your grown children make stupid decisions, pray for them, engage with them, but most of all⁠—love them.

In an interview with Billy Graham on the 20/20 program, the subject turned to homosexuality. Hugh Downs looked directly at Billy and said, "If you had a homosexual child, would you love him?" Billy didn't miss a beat. He replied with sincerity and gentleness, "Why, I would love that one even more." Billy Graham gets it, folks, and we should, too.

Think about the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-32. We can gather that this father kept praying for his son. He kept an eye out for him. And when he returned, he threw a party for him.

You and I have all done stupid things against God. Yet he still waits for us to return to him.

The same goes for our children. No matter how heartbreaking their decisions may be to you, keep praying for them and keep loving them. Don’t just say it. Show it!

I had a friend once tell me that I am the closest thing to Jesus that my kids can see.

What does Jesus look like in you?

About Dale Collver

Dale Collver is the Operations Manager and Podcast Producer for Men in the Arena. Dale also worked with Jim Ramos for 8 years in youth ministry. Dale lives in McMinnville Oregon with Heather, his wife of 26 years. They have 3 adult daughters, Hayley, Hannah, and Hayden. They also adopted their son, Noah, who is 8 years old. Dale enjoys vacationing with Heather on warm beaches and RVing with family. God has walked with Dale through many obstacles in his life which helps him to stand strong knowing things will always work out when Jesus is at the forefront.