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Our college-aged children are living with their partners while not married. We know breaking ties is not a good response, but how do we convey our disapproval?

It’s difficult to watch our children make poor choices. We want them to love God faithfully and flourish. We want to protect them from foolish mistakes. Yet those choices are theirs to make.

Our cultural norms have shifted, and it’s now quite common for couples to live together before marriage. Some think of it as a trial run. Yet we recognize that God’s design for sex is within the bonds of marriage. Numerous studies show that living together before marriage does not create a healthier relationship or a more successful marriage, but the opposite. Living together adds a conditional element of continually testing the relationship, which undermines a covenantal commitment to love one another through all of life’s circumstances.

If you hope to remain in a position of influence, breaking ties is not a good answer. The best answer is honest conversation about your concerns. Enter the conversation prayerfully and with the best interest of your kids at heart. Check your motives so that you are not being guided by shame or anger. Approach the conversation with an eye toward positive outcomes; don't jump to condemnation and burn relational bridges. God calls us to love even those with whom we disagree. Once you have expressed your concerns, let the conversation rest.

Adult children living outside our home get to make their own mistakes. While you might not like their choices, they aren’t yours to make. You don’t need to approve of or fund the poor choices your children make, but you are called to love. Your children are responsible for the decisions they make as well as the consequences of those choices, yet there is also no sin that is outside of God’s capacity to forgive. God loved us sacrificially when we were dead in our sins, and we are called to love like Jesus. Let your love lead them to see Jesus.

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