Developing a relationship with your adult child can be difficult at times, especially if you don’t see eye to eye on everything. The key to success in developing a relationship with your adult child is to always be supportive, treat them like an adult, make an effort to visit them, and try to give them a call at least once a week.
1. Genuinely support your child in every aspect of his or her life
You may not like your child’s job or maybe you don’t approve of your child’s significant other. Whatever the situation is, just be supportive. Say to your child, “as long as you are happy, healthy, and safe, then I am happy for you,” and mean it. This cannot be emphasized enough. There aren’t many worse feelings than when your parents don’t support your life decisions.
For example, if your daughter is a coffee shop barista in Wisconsin and she loves her job, but you want her to be a magazine editor in New York, don’t suggest to her that she needs to get a “real job” and proceed with constructive criticism. While you may be coming from a good place, chances are that it will only make her angry, sad, and frustrated. Instead, be supportive; encourage her to be the best barista that she can possibly be. Try asking her questions about it to learn why she loves being a barista. Perhaps by learning more about it, you will find a way to genuinely support her.
Of course, on the other hand, if your daughter is a barista and is constantly asking for money and complaining about her job, then that is a different story. Know when to use constructive criticism and when to use genuine support. Here’s the rule of thumb: use support when your child is happy, healthy, and safe.
If you are trying your best to be supportive, but are still doing it through clenched teeth, here are some concepts that may help you understand your child’s life choices:
- You grew up in a different era than your child. It is undeniable that people born in the ‘60s have a different way of thinking than of those born in the ‘90s.
- You probably grew up in a different kind of upbringing. This could mean parenting style, the location of the upbringing, the number of siblings, etc.
- Your child lives in a different job market than you did when you were their age. The job market now is lot different than it was 20-30 years ago.
- Your child’s high school and/or college education experience is probably very different from yours. This may have given your child different ideologies on life and priorities.
2. Treat your adult child with adult respect
Don’t treat them like a baby; give them adult respect. While it may feel like they are still your little baby (and they are, of course), you should still treat your child with the adult respect that you would give any other adult. You may be coming from a good place, but it could come off as condescending to your son or daughter. Nobody likes being told what to do, especially by their parents.
3. Visiting is a two-way street
Make a point to visit your children. Don’t always expect that your kids should come to you. Unless, of course, if you have a physical ailment or personal situation that prevents you from doing so. But, if you are able, you should try to go see your kids in “their environment.” Whether you live down the block or in a different country, you should visit them, too.
Every adult has obligations and responsibilities, and same goes for your child. It should be a two-way street when it comes to visiting each other. It may feel like your child should always come “home” to you, but that can get tiring. Your child will appreciate the reciprocated effort of coming to see them, especially if they always come home to you.
Additionally, visiting your kids has other benefits, such as learning more about them and their “world.” Visiting your child more often will allow you to learn about their daily routine, their job, their friends, their favorite restaurants, their favorite stores, etc. Of course, there are limits to this; you shouldn’t show up to their house every day. Set boundaries with your kids and figure out what is good for everyone.
4. Talk once a week on the phone or via video chat
Nowadays, everyone just texts or emails. It’s easy, quick, and you can respond when it’s convenient for you. However, it’s just so impersonal. So, make your interactions a bit more personal by making a date once a week to call your child. If you want to make it even more personal, try FaceTime (or any video chat platform). With video chats, your interactions are enhanced by actually seeing the person’s facial expressions.
If once a week seems like a lot, think of it this way: even if neither of you have news to share, it allows you to talk about other things you don’t typically talk about. Ordinarily, when you see your child for the first time in a few weeks or months, you are catching up on all the “big stuff.” However, you are probably missing out on the “little stuff” that goes on in their lives. By chatting once a week, you get to learn the little things that happen to them. This helps develop a stronger relationship with your adult child.