Over the years, in both my private practice and as a parent myself, I’ve seen the challenges of always maintaing a strong relationship between parents and children. These challenges are only compounded as children reach legal age, explore their personal identity, experiment with life choices and make decisions that go against what you taught them.
Experience has taught me several things that can be key to saving and strengthening the relationship between you and your adult child. While none of these are easy, they are worth the effort. Just because your child is making their own choices does not mean that he or she does not need you. Your child loves and needs you. Read more for my nine tips for parents.
1. Always remember that you love your child, and your child loves you. Yes, you may be hurt and angry, and he or she may deny it, but at the end of the day there is love in your relationship.
2. If your child still lives at home, it is easier for him or her to feel that love. Kicking them out of your house will only make it harder for you to show them your love.
3. Just because you do not agree with their decisions does not mean they are bad. They might be making decisions which are not the best but, you do not want to lower their worth by calling them bad. Share your disappointments in their decisions and then tell them how much you love them.
4. Remember that perfect parents do not exist, nor do perfect children. Rebellion is natural. You are not a failure as a parent and your child is not a failure as a person.
5. As your child experiments and explores, set clear boundaries as to what you expect their behavior to be if they plan on living in your home or if they are financially dependent on you.
6. Now that your child expects to have the freedoms associated with being an adult, they also need to be prepared to handle the responsibilities and consequences that come with being an adult.
7. Trying to maintain a level head is important. Bringing up difficult conversations when you’re angry is not going to do any good. Nor is constantly reminding them of how disappointed you are in their decisions.
8. Your child is going to learn by trial and error what works in his or her life. Be there for them in the times when they fall– they may realize the way you taught them is actually better for their life.
9. Finally, do no give up hope. Your constant love will be the support they need to succeed and thrive during this tumultuous time of their life. In time your relationship will heal and flourish.