In the Know – Give Advice…or Not?

Who would have guessed? I certainly never imagined that the Wall Street Journal would be a great place for advice on older children.

“Advice on Giving Advice to 20-Year-Olds” was cited by a dear friend of mine on September 1st. I found it to be great advice on giving advice to my nineteen and sixteen year olds as well.

In this well-written article, Jeffrey Zaslow cited research conducted by Pew Research Center last year. Based on this research, today’s young people see generational differences especially when it comes to perspective, work ethic and technology. For this reason, the current generation is less apt to seek out and value advice from the prior.

Zaslow cites this difference to the access of information. In time past, if a girl needed to know how long to boil an egg, she would call mom. Now she can simply “google” the answer. If a guy needs to know how to tie a tie, Zaslow explains, he can simply YouTube and watch a video.

These examples certainly rang true for me. Maybe you and I have something in common; do you often find yourself asking your child how to use the DVR or which method is best when using a new computer program? No wonder my child thinks he knows more than me!

I don’t believe this is true, however, when it comes to matters of faith, relationships or integrity. We want to keep lines of communication open so that when it comes to giving our students advice on matters that are related to how we believe, their ears and hearts are still open.

This is why it is so important for us to hone our skills when it comes to communicating. I see this daily in my life. Just yesterday I was frustrated with the appearance of my daughter’s bedroom. As I was busy cleaning the house and she was busy doing things teens do, I wanted to abrupt; to let the frustration I was feeling spill over onto my unsuspecting girl. Fortunately, I listened to the still small voice in my heart this time and asked myself this question, What do I really want to be heard on? The clothes on the bedroom floor or issues that are life impacting? I settled my heart and voted for the later.

From this article, I gathered a couple of points that I hope will help you as you attempt to bridge the communication generation gap:

* What worked in the past might not be what works today. Don’t assume that I know more than my children in every area of life, just because I am older.

* Be careful how I word things: “Maybe this might work…” will open ears and hearts much more than “If I was you…” or “You should…”

* Listen to their point and open doors for discussion instead of lecture.

* Don’t cut down the way they do things i.e. FaceBook, texting, etc. Times are changing. If I appear to not get it, I will be seen as irrelevant.

I think I’ll try respectfully acknowledging my child’s wisdom next time it is apparent. Maybe this will open doors for us and perhaps she will in turn acknowledge mine.

Zaslow,Jeffrey. (2010, September 1). The Wall Street Journal, pp. D1.



  1. Thank you so much for this post! Our daughter has been diagnosed with bi-polar and we struggle daily with different things. But your post raised a few different things that were Aha moments for us. We have so much to pray about regarding our daughter. But you pointed out things we can do right now! For example…being careful on how we word things. And most importantly listening to her when she is talking to us…I mean really listening to her! Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart.

  2. Lynn, I heard some great advice yesterday from a mom of adult children. When our adult children don't want to heed our advice, we could put Phil 4:8 into practice..whatever is true, whatever is noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable…think on these things. When my 19 year old frustrates me I need to think of the good and admirable qualities he has.

    I am at a point where I don't give advice right now. For this season (hopefully it won't be long) I am loving on my adult child. My love speaks by giving lots of space, setting boundaries where it affects me and yes, offering food! Our relationship can't handle me giving advice right now, but I pray it will someday.

    Thanks, Lynn for this timely blog! I am learning so much about this topic and appreciate your encouragement!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Wow, so needed to hear this tonight. Thank you for your openness. You have been a great encouragement to me! Christa

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