“Son… this is not optional”

Children need their parent’s guidance to become an independent adult equipped with the skills, knowledge, and principles that will be their basis in their own lives. Parents naturally want this for their child so they do their best in fulfilling the heavy responsibility of helping their childrenTrain a boy in the way he should go; Even when he grows old he will not depart from it.—Proverbs 22:6.

Parents know that the time will come when their children will make a life of their own, possibly way different than what they intended to be. This is inevitable. The child will grow into adulthood, leave their nest and fly away, so to speak. When this happens, the parents can only hope that the seeds they’ve planted in their child’s heart will blossom into something close to what they intended.

When is the child ready to leave home?

If we try to put an age as to when a child is ready, the ideal is around 18, the legal age in most countries. Of course, this is not a hard rule but a guideline, since every child is different. Some reach maturity earlier, some a bit later than usual. But generally at this age, the boy can be called a man; a girl, a woman. Though the guidance of their parents, they are expected to possess the things they need in order to be independent.

The Dilemma

This is where the complications arises. Is the adult child really ready to leave home? Or will the parents still lovingly provide for their child until he or she is ready? In the Philippines, it is very common to allow the adult child to live with their parents as long as they want. This is where I will zoom in because there is a dilemma both for parents and the adult child, causing much pain and distress. But why?

Each household has a structure to become a stable unit of the community. The father is the head of the family“For I have come to know him in order that he may command his sons and his household after him to keep Jehovah’s way by doing what is right and just…”—Gen. 18:19 and is responsible for the critical decision making for the household. His wife of course is part of the decision making process but respecting and supporting the final decision made by the husband. The children’s job is to obey their parents.

But now that the child become an adult and able to decide on their own based on his or her own reasoning, there will be clashes if he or she is still living with his parents. The head of the family may decide on something that is not agreeable with the adult child. This is the cause of the distress for both parents and adult child.

The (quick) Solution

Now what is the best way to solve this? The best answer, although not easy, is to stick to the structure of the family. Respect and support the decision of the head even if it is not acceptable to the adult child. Why? Because until he or she leaves the household, he or she must be in subjection to his/her head, the parents.

Basis of the solution

This was demonstrated well by the JW movie, “These Words . . . Must Be on Your Heart”. A similar situation as above was portrayed and the head of the family lovingly solved the issue. In a loving way, he asserted that he is still in charge of the household and he wants what’s best for his son. He stated what needs to be done and in a few months leaving the choice to his son in the end by saying something like, “if you don’t like the outcome, we’ll talk again.” By stating his decision, adding a timeline, and what to do next, the father gave his son a choice. Before leaving his son to think about it, he said something that shows his firmness and seriousness regarding the matter. He said: “Son… this is not optional”.

What happens next if the son did not obey his father remains unseen. But we could deduce that the son probably would need to go out on his own since he now chooses to disobey the head of the family, essentially wanting to be the head himself.

Is the father cruel? No! He is following Bible principlesThese words that I am commanding you today must be on your heart, and you must inculcate them in your sons and speak of them when you sit in your house and when you walk on the road and when you lie down and when you get up.—Deu. 6:6-7 and did not hold his son back from making his own choice. Of course, there will be consequences. Sadly, the effects of bad decisions are not only directed towards the decision maker but also to those around him.


The head of the family has a heavy responsibility of training and supporting their children. The father especially, has authority over his household as long as the adult child is living and depending on him. If the parents still tolerate even if the adult child is not respecting their lead, the parents in effect is not helping their child to become better.

If the adult child chooses not to follow his/her parents’ God-given instructions, the parents have the authority to make him/her leave the house and accept the consequences of his/her decision. Otherwise, the love and peace in the family can be maintained for as long as the parents try their best to follow the Bible standards and the adult children remain subjective to his/her parents, regardless of age.

All Bible verses used are from the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (2013 Revision).

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