Learning to trust God with your adult children

Written by Trisha Sheffield
Published on August 27, 2021

Bible verses about trusting God are not in short supply. 

As believers, we know the wisdom and truth behind placing our trust in God rather than ourselves. But when it comes to trusting him with our children, there’s often a tension there, and we can struggle with the release. 

In our parenting journeys, it’s not uncommon to wrestle with the issue of trust. It happens in the big and the small things, and for parents sending a child to college for the first time, it’s an experience that can catch you off guard一even grip you with fear because you quickly realize that much of what you could manage or control during the first 18 years of that child’s life一friendships, social boundaries, faith, and more一suddenly falls outside your grip.  

Does all really mean all? 

While I hate to be the bearer of bad news, this struggle to trust God in all things, specifically with your children, doesn’t end once they become adults. 

My children are out of the nest. While I can’t give them credit for full-on “adulting” just yet一in graduate school, still on our insurance, etc. . .一they’re good kids moving forward in a positive way.  And yet, I sometimes find myself lying awake at night consumed with situations and circumstances my adult children are facing or, even worse, ignoring. 

In my heart and in my head, I know God works all things for our good and his glory (Romans 8:28 ESV). I find comfort in his sovereignty for my life and those I love. 

But there’s just something about learning to let go of our children一at whatever stage they’re in一that isn’t always easy. To be perfectly candid, I think I expected the “worry” to cease as they moved beyond undergrad. 

And yet, I find myself focused on so much that I cannot control.  Of course, the good times are great. When everyone’s healthy and happy, and things in life fall neatly into place, it’s easy to say we trust God.  

Navigating difficult questions

One of the verses I return to time and again is Proverbs 3:5–6, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your path straight.” 

It’s a wonderful verse to memorize and hold as an anchor for trusting the LORD completely. I believe every word of those verses. I have shared them with friends, and I have preached them to myself. 

I always circle back to God’s sovereignty. His perfect plan for all creation. His unfathomable love for each of us.  But then—what about when: 

• Their hearts are broken?

• The relationships they long for don’t happen?

• They are lonely and struggling to make post-college friendships?

• They feel uncertain about their future?

• They have wandered in their faith?

• They’re in relationships that aren’t healthy?

• They’ve developed unhealthy habits or addictions?

• They’re facing a devastating medical diagnosis?

That list could go on and on, so what then? While some things get easier once your kids leave the nest一there are some small blessings in not having to be aware of their every move!一 sometimes, parenting those adult children can be downright heart-wrenching.   

So what do we do? How do we learn to trust God in all circumstances? 

Well, it’s a daily practice of turning to him first, surrendering our fears, worries, and anxieties about our kids to the only One who loves them more than we do (Matthew 6:2534). 

Because in his Word, we will find verses that meet us where we are, helping us trust in the LORD, overcome doubt, and navigate difficult times. 

Struggling to trust

So what does the Bible say about trusting God? Well, plenty. As it relates to our children, we first have to release them from our plans, our desires, and our dreams.  

Ultimately, what I want most is for my children to bend their lives to God’s will, not mine. If you are a believer, then I imagine you feel the same. We want them to remember一even in seasons of struggle一the importance of God’s call on their life, to recall that moment when they recognized their need for Jesus.  

And when, if, or as they wander, prayer is where we should turn. The verses below help us trust God: when things get difficult, when we start to worry, when our heart is hurting. Of course, there are so many more, and our relationship with God and prayer is not like Aladdin’s lamp.  The key here is the posture of our heart found in the word “abide.” When we abide in Christ, we rest in the truth of his word—we turn to him daily for direction, understanding, and guidance. And it’s in this act that our thoughts and prayers begin to align with God’s will.  

Let Scripture be your guide

Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” 

Psalm 9:10, “And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.” 

Psalm 56:3, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.”

Psalm 62:8, “Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts before him; God is a refuge for us.” 

Proverbs 19:21, “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.”

And there are several others: Isaiah 43:1b-2; Lamentations 3:22-23; Mark 4:40; John 15:7; Philippians 4:6-7; James 4:8

What it means to trust God

Trusting God means trusting him with all things. Not “all but this”, or “all but that.” It means all, and it is hard. It’s a surrender, which often doesn’t come naturally. God always hears and answers our prayers (Psalm 116:12, 1 John 5:14–15, 2 Chronicles 7:14, Jeremiah 29:12, to name a few ). 

But this doesn’t mean his response to our prayers always aligns with the timing or outcome we hold as “right.” 

Some of my friends have faced unimaginable challenges in their parenting: death, addiction, disabilities, cancer.  It can be hard to reconcile some of these things with James’s teaching to “count it all joy … when you face trials of various kinds” (James 1: 2–4).  

God redeems all he allows. Every. Single. Day. 


Looking for other resources on parenting adult kids?



A word to parents of college-bound kids

Independent dependents: The faith of your grown children

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Trisha Sheffield

Trisha Sheffield and her husband Doug live in North Texas and have two adult children, Lauren and Mason. Each member of the family is a graduate of Texas A&M University, so on game day weekends in the fall, you’re likely to find at least one of them in Aggieland. For over 10 years, Trisha has worked independently as a freelance writer, and in 2019, she began a personal blog as a way to encourage, challenge and support others in their steps of faith. She is active in her local church and leads a weekly Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) discussion group. Additionally, she serves on several local boards, including CoServ Electric, the Lewisville ISD (LISD) Education Foundation and PediPlace, and is a former LISD Trustee and member of Texas A&M’s Aggie Parent and Family Advisory Council.

Read more about Trisha

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