How To Be An On Purpose Parent | College Age +

As an On Purpose Parent, our main goal is to raise our children to become interdependent, life-long followers of Jesus who desire to make a Kingdom contribution. The main way we are going to do this is called the On Purpose Parent (OPP) Plan.

The fifth and final Age/Stage of the OPP Plan is College Age +. This is where your main Role is that of a CONSULTANT and your main Goal is that your child will “Reproduce Their Faith.” The following paragraphs are to help you Understand and Appreciate this Age/Stage your child is in.

During the young adult stage, intimacy and isolation are the focus of development. This stage begins at age 19. During this time in life, your child is establishing and building on relationships.

If your child has meaningful relationships with friends and family, they will experience intimacy with others, safety, and love. If they struggle with relationships, they may feel isolated, lonely, and even depressed.‌

If you’re new to parenting a young adult, you’re going to find that this phase can be both exciting and hopeful as well as scary and stressful while you watch your son or daughter make decisions that will set the trajectory of their future.

This can be one of the best times of your lives. Your child is probably already beginning to make decisions on their own and finding their independence. Due to your guidance and support, they’re mostly ready for it!

Now it’s time to Adjust your parenting approach. In the previous Ages/Stages, we described your Roles/Goals like this:

> CAREGIVER – “See Your Faith
> CRAFTER – “Nurture Their Faith”
> CHEERLEADER – “Own Their Faith”
> COACH – “Activate Their Faith”

Remember, you don’t entirely give up these Roles/Goals, instead you add… CONSULTANT – “Reproduce Their Faith”

At this point your role truly becomes limited, and it’s supposed to! You move from being a COACH on the sidelines to being a CONSULTANT who is ready to help when asked. Recognize that you can play an exciting role in helping your child find identity beyond image, belonging beyond a peer group, and purpose beyond a profession.

Here’s 3 Tips to Being a Great CONSULTANT:

1) Remember How You Felt
How you were so stressed during finals, how you were nervous about a career, and finding the right person to marry…the pressure you felt to have everything in place by age 25? Remember that lectures didn’t fix it, but processing and having a guide to help you find the next step did.

2) Be Available and Loving
You spell love T-I-M-E. The asks are going to start coming in less, so take advantage of the time they do want to spend with you. You won’t always be able to change your schedule to accommodate the last-minute asks but do your best to make it happen. This will make them feel loved and appreciated.

3) Share Your Resources
This doesn’t mean you continuously foot-the-bill for everything. But you do have stuff they need, and your generosity is a blessing they’ll appreciate.

As their CONSULTANT, here are 3 Ways to Help Them “Reproduce Their Faith”:

1) Help them to understand the importance of building relationships.
Sharing one’s faith is not about trying to convince someone to believe in a certain set of doctrines, but rather about building a relationship with that person and helping them to understand the love and grace of Jesus. Encourage them to look for opportunities to connect with others and to build meaningful relationships with people who may not yet know Jesus.

2) Help them to share their personal testimony.
Everyone’s faith journey is unique, and sharing their personal story of how they came to know and believe in Jesus is a powerful tool for sharing their faith. Encourage them to think about specific instances or events that have shaped their faith and helped them to understand and believe in the message of the Gospel.

3) Help them acquire resources.
There are many resources available to help people share their faith. Encourage your young adult to explore these resources and to use them in their conversations with others. At Saddleback, we have in-person and online trainings that are designed to equip people to make an impact on a personal, local, and global scale.

Parenting is the toughest job you’ll ever have. So, the feelings of worry and being ill-equipped are natural. But don’t hold onto these feelings. Give them to God.

Philippians 4:6-7 instructs us, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

You’re not alone. We’re with you. But more importantly, God is always with you. He sees you and loves you. He’s our perfect Heavenly Father who is all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-loving! And He loves your children even more than you do. That’s something to take comfort in!


  • Chris Reed | Pastor to Parents | Saddleback Church

    Chris married his beautiful bride, Tina, in 1990. They have three wonderful adult children, Jacob, Kaylee, and Macie Joy. Chris began pastoring at a church in Los Angeles in 1995 where he was the Children’s and Student Pastor. He was the Executive Pastor of Student Ministries at John Maxwell's church in South Florida before he came to Saddleback in 2008 as our Pastor to 20s/30s. He has since served as Pastor to Singles and Pastor to Marriages. He is currently our Pastor to Parents leading the charge for all things Parents Ministry at Saddleback. He earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Biblical Studies and his Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership.

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