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How to Improve Your Relationship With Your Adult Children

Updated on November 12, 2012

Often, parents of adult children find it difficult to engage in a conversation with their grown sons and daughters. A conversation becomes strained and difficult as each search for the words to place in an unspoken sentence. Although parents and their adult offspring may experience completely different lives and live in very different worlds, it is possible for parents and their adult children to find each other engaged in valuable and interesting conversations. Follow these simple suggestions to enjoy a successful conversation with your adult children.

I Don’t Know My Kids Anymore

No matter what their parenting style, people may have fond memories of their young children at a certain age, when they were fascinated by mommy or daddy, and the whole world was new and inviting. As children age, parents may find it difficult to restore that deep connection with their adult offspring, and as the relationship changes over time, many parents feel they have “lost their little girl or boy,” as if, “that little child no longer exists.” While it is certain that your “child” has developed into a separate and independent unit of an adult, they have not really “changed” completely, but they do need to be identified by the parent as a fully functional and capable adult. Most adult children need the approval of their parents; it is part of being an emotional human being. Find the part of your adult child that you find the most inspiring, and compliment on that ability.


The Negative Pulling Away from Parents is Normal in Development

Watching children grow up can be very painful for adults. During adolescents, young adults enter the formal operation stage and are capable of thinking logically and abstractly. They can also reason theoretically, and may not agree with their parents’ ideas, strive for individualism or rebel against them in a negative way. For some parents, this normal act of “pulling away” by their children may create a profound resentment, and some parents may even feel betrayed as a bitter relationship ensues between the adult child and the parent. Overtime, if the painful emotions are not discussed by the adult children and parents, the relationship will continue to degrade and may even become obsolete.

Dissolving the Barriers around You and Your Adult Children

Asking your children for grandchildren, when they are going back to school, when they are planning to settle down and marry, or any other important life activity is not only annoying for adult children, but it may be painful as well. Your offspring may feel as if they are failing you if they don’t comply, but on the other hand, their life’s circumstances or emotional well-being is threatened by jumping into an important commitment that they are not prepared for. Instead, ask them how they are, what is going on in their life, or ask them about their job or friends. It is important that the parent offer respect for their adult children’s decisions and identify with them as an adult.



Living Vicariously Through Your Children

If your adult child is happy about a new position or lifestyle that you don’t approve of, don’t judge them with your disappointment or criticize them for their decisions. Help them celebrate; and then remember why you had children in the first place. You wanted to raise happy people that can successfully manage their own lives and stand on their own two feet. Celebrate the fact that you have accomplished that difficult feat, and you are now the proud parent of an “adult baby boy,” that is living his life and is managing a complicated world on his own terms. Maybe you hoped he’d be a doctor, but making bobsleds in Aspen is what makes him happy. Be happy because, he is happy.

In Regards to Social Media: I Know You’re Proud, But!

A friend of mine called and wanted to know how to remove the photo she had posted of her adult son on her Facebook page. The photo was of a naked 2 year old on a bearskin rug. Apparently, her son was livid over the photo, and was equally unhappy that it continues to be passed around by his co-workers at the office. “Snookums,” was very upset with his mother, but he is speaking to her again. “I know she doesn’t mean it,” he said, “but it wasn’t the first time she has shamed me with her baby pictures.” Always ask your adult children before posting photos of them online.

Stop Living in the Past

A parent has had the opportunity to watch their children make mistakes as they grow-up and emotionally churn through the difficult stages of development. In the realm of growth and development, there is no such thing as a mistake. The forming of the brain and emotional growth take all kinds of turns and often don’t turn out as well as a young brain intended. Your adult child has changed and needs to know you have left their embarrassing and painful foibles of youth behind. Rehashing the mistakes you feel were made by your adult daughter as a child will damage your relationship, and may even cause an estrangement. No one wants to relive painful childhood memories and it is best to leave them where they belong— in the past.

Some People Experience Natural Conflicts

A multitude of factors contribute to relationships, and sometimes two people just don’t jive. A clash of personalities may happen in families and often people end up fighting or disagreeing by pushing each other’s buttons. If possible, try to find some common ground and focus on that subject. Sometimes, people can just agree that they ultimately disagree, and respect the other’s ideas and opinions.

Engage Your Adult Children in Conversation with Respect and Interest

The hallmark of being an adult is being respected by maintaining a private life that is somewhat interesting and promising. Children are not afforded privacy, and can only dream of doing something on their own in the future. Parents that treat their adult offspring with the same dignity and integrity as other adults may have fascinating conversations that involve intimacy and deep friendship. Parents, be proud of the interesting person that you have raised to adulthood; and be proud of yourself for accomplishing a loving and challenging act of faith.


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    • profile image


      4 years ago

      I am confused my adult son will not speak to me he's upset with me and I'm not sure why I've apologized for anything I have done to upset he has a new girlfriend and he's happy with his life but he says I'm not included in any of his future plans

    • nadinelopo profile image


      6 years ago from ohio

      I wish my parents would read this! I'm 21 and moved out of the hoise, yet they treat me like a child. They can also be embarrassing so it makes me not want to be around them.

      I want them to just treat me more as an equal and less like their responsibility. Luckily my parents aren't into social media and cannot post embarrassing things about me.

    • RandallOnTheMove profile image

      Randall Rittenberry 

      6 years ago from Cookeville,TN

      Great hub!

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 

      8 years ago from Traverse City, MI

      eHealer, this is a very solid article. Thankfully, my sons and I have good relationships. But you did hit one thing right on in regard to my younger son, age 24. He stopped college in the middle of his junior year because he wanted to take some time to reconsider his life goals. One thing he really likes doing is making, not bobsleds in aspen, but tents and snowshoes in Michigan. Very funny.

    • eHealer profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Las Vegas

      New relationships are always tricky, it's a new world we delve into. Glad you found it useful, and thanks for your kind comments!

    • tipstoretireearly profile image


      8 years ago from New York

      Treating adult children with integrity and respect is great advice. I'm also learning how to treat this new relationship of having adult children, and it does take some getting used to. This hub is very helpful!

    • eHealer profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Las Vegas

      Thanks Eddy, always great to see you, and thanks for your support!

    • Eiddwen profile image


      8 years ago from Wales

      Interesting and useful;thanks for sharing.


    • eHealer profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Las Vegas

      Thanks Rajan, it is always so great to see you on my hubs! Thanks for voting me up and your very appreciated feedback.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      8 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      Deborah, these are fine tips to ensure we have a better and lasting relationship with our adult children. Respecting their point of view and allowing them their private space is also very important in ensuring good relations.

      Voted up and useful.

    • eHealer profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Las Vegas

      Thanks Debbie, I appreciate your feedback so much. I am so glad you have a good relationship with yours and theirs. Getting along with people isn't that easy when you look at the stats, in fact, we can only get along with less than 2% of the population. Thanks again!

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 

      8 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      eHealer what a great hub .. I so enjoy my adult children. I do get along better with my oldest son but I find myself more drawn to my youngest because I adore his children and he has a wonderful wife.. we do not talk a lot but he does work a lot.. this is a great hub many blessings to you


    • eHealer profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Las Vegas

      Thanks PH, I am so glad you found it helpful. That's great that you have such a good relationship with your sons. Write on!

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 

      8 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Good Hub and very good advice. I have pretty good relationships with my three grwon sons, but I am going to keep all this in mind so as to avaoid future problems. Thanks. :)

    • eHealer profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Las Vegas

      I'm sorry to hear that Mhatter, but it's never too late to reach out to them. Relationships have their ups and downs, it's only natural. I am hope this hub helps you somehow. Thanks Mhatter for sharing your personal experiences.

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 

      8 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you for the help. I really don't know what happened. Perhaps I am living by social standards. My kid and I just don't talk after they went off to college.

    • eHealer profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Las Vegas

      Thanks Cathy, I appreciate the vote of confidence, and You are Amazing to be able to raise 3 teenage boys!

    • Cathy Fidelibus profile image

      Ms. Immortal 

      8 years ago from NJ

      Having three teenage boys, I can relate to this information. It is very well done and has great and ver helpful information.


      voted up


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