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an older married couple with their grown adult daughter learning how to stop worrying about your grown child

How To Stop Worrying About Your Grown Child

March 13, 2024

Letting Go of Worrying About Your Adult Children

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” —Philippians 4:6-7 

This verse seems so simple and obvious. And you believe it’s true! God will provide for your needs, be with you in times of joy and trouble, and help you find a way of escape when life pins you in. But at two o’clock in the morning when your mind is spinning about your grown child’s job, life choices, family, grades, spouse, and faith, worry has already crept in, and truth is a sunrise away. 

So what do you do when your kids are no longer “little” and worry feels like the only course of action. How can you stop worrying about your grown child? 

Take a breath. 

Since you’re staring at the ceiling anyway, own the moment. Take a few deep breaths and spend a minute feeling the feelings. You’re human, and no matter how strong your faith, your desire to protect your kids is, in many ways, all-consuming.  

Try naming your feelings. Worry can stem from a wide range of emotions. Harris III says, “Worry is a misuse of imagination.” So, what’s beneath the surface? Are you fearful, angry, or feeling out of control? It can also be a by-product of stressors like finances, family dynamics, or work issues. Here’s the magicoften just identifying the source of your worry can ease anxiety. And once your feelings have a name or place, you can test the worry.   

Put your worry to the test. 

Researchers Lucas S. LaFreniere and Michelle G. Newman at Penn State University, conducted a study to test the accuracy of worry. How often did recorded worries come true? Participants were asked to keep a “Worry Outcome Journal” and write down their worries (and the physical or mental symptoms they were experiencing) several times a day for a month. Each evening, study members examined their lists and saw how many anxiety-producing situations or predictions came to pass. 

After 30 days, a stunning 91 percent of measurable worries did not come true. Even more telling, one out of four participants found their worries to be 100 percent false. But what about the nine percent of worries that became a reality?  Even then, almost one third of those outcomes were better than expected.   

These outcomes were so profound the study authors titled their research “Exposing Worry’s Deceit: Percentage of Untrue Worries in Generalized Anxiety Disorder Treatment.” Psychologist and writer Seth Gillihan describes it this way in his Psychology Today article about the study. “‘Deceit’ is a good word to describe the nature of worry, implicitly demanding we pay attention to it because the threat is real. In reality, it’s nearly always a false alarm.” 

You try it! Write down a “testable” worry. My grown child is going to get a flat tire on their way home from college, for example. Is your worry accurate? Accurate or not, writing it down may help to diminish some of the stress that comes with chronic worrying.

an older dad with his grown adult son learning how to stop worrying about your grown child

Look for the truth. 

So how do you stop or ease the 2 a.m. false alarms of anxiety? Choosing to focus on what is real can help you flex out of worry and back into confidence and faith.  

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” —Philippians 4:8

Spend some time identifying what is true, good, right, and pure as soon as you recognize anxious thoughts. Focusing on what you can and can’t control is a great place to start. 

  • You can’t tell your grown child what to do, but you can believe in them and their abilities. 
  • You can’t shield your adult child from struggle, but you can be empathetic and supportive from the stands. 
  • You can’t save them from making mistakes, but you can show them trust and faith they can see things through in their own way. 
  • You can’t take away your child’s pain, but you can remind them they are loved. 

While it’s only natural to care and worry for your children, there comes a point when they’re living their own lives. The reality is the choices they make (and consequences they may face) are far beyond your control and the thought that worry can help is a deceitful lie. Keep your mind focused on what is true and your thoughts will point you to actions of love, support, and kindness.  

Meditate on good things. 

Meditating on good things has shown to positively affect sleep quality and sleep duration. The key is to express gratitude, keeping your focus on something beautiful and real.  

  • Find a favorite bible verse and repeat it slowly to yourself or write it down.  
  • Count your blessings. Small ones count, too.  
  • Visualize your favorite scenic vista or favorite flower.  
  • Go for a walk and pay attention to your breathing.  

To be clearmeditating on good things doesn’t mean you’re ignoring the difficulty. Instead, you’re taking action and choosing to seek out what is praiseworthy, noble, and of good report. You’re choosing to take control of your thoughts and believe that God has you and your worries in His hand. 


Worry is a spiral that can lead you down a difficult path. It can leave you feeling helpless or possibly incite you to make decisions or take actions that are not in the best interest of you or of your kids. So to keep the peace (and find some for yourself, too), try prayers of gratitude and hope.  

  • Rather than asking for changes or intervention, give thanks for all that has already been done.  
  • Be grateful that God is in charge and knows your heart’s desire.  
  • Pray that He intercede in your life and in the lives of your children.  
  • Express your confidence and gratitude that God has met and always will meet your needs.  

Like most difficult life skills, letting go of worry may take time and practice. Be sure to celebrate the small successesgetting adequate sleep, using exercise as a stress reliever, treating your worry like a science experiment, remembering to focus on what is true, and giving yourself time and grace to analyze what is real and what is deceit.  

In the end, let God do the heavy lifting for you and carry your load of concerns regarding your grown child. 

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” —Philippians 4:7

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