As parents our goal is for our children to internalize the values that we deem important, the result of which will hopefully be external conduct that reflects good character. External discipline may result in outward compliance but have no effect on the child's heart. You've all heard the story of the father who repeatedly insisted that his child stand up and when she finally, unwillingly, complied, she stated "I may be standing up on the outside, Daddy, but inside I'm sitting down!"
If your young adult children are still living with you, you may be able to obtain external submission to your will, but at what cost?
"While you're living under our roof, you'll obey our rules!" may be effective but breed resentment. If your child was living under his own roof, would he still act according to your preferences? If not, is it really that important that he do so now? Unless he wants to do something that is illegal or physically harmful, should you insist on your way "or the highway"? "If you don't like it, there's the door"? What is he actually learning from this?
Instead I advocate for negotiation. Recognizing that your child is now a young adult and that God gave each of us a free will, allow him to make decisions and experience natural consequences. Of course it would be best if you've already been doing this for some time now, but if not, begin. For example, if he's still living in your home and doesn't have his own vehicle, you can negotiate the use of yours. "Yes, you can use the car if..." (if he replenishes the fuel, if he returns it in the same condition it was in when he left with it, if he takes it only where he said he would). If he violates the negotiated agreement, he doesn't get the car next time. He has to find another mode of transportation to get to his destination. Or he has to let you drive him.
I have a friend whose young adult children are a couple of years older than mine. She tells me they still do what she says. Frankly, it concerns me. As much as we have the wisdom born of years of experience and may "know best," I'm afraid that when children of such parents are out on their own, they'll have little desire to visit or engage with their folks. They may also look for partners who tell them what to do since they've never had the opportunity to act on their own decisions. This can cause them to enter abusive and potentially life-threatening relationships.
At this stage in your young adult's development, please don't try to control. Instead, work together, negotiate and let them experience the results of their choices. This will go a lot further in building the kind of bond you surely want to have.
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