Navigating how to get along with your adult children can be fraught with challenges. Many parents wished a manual accompanied their bundle of joy home from the hospital so many years ago. If the roller coaster ride of those angsty teenage years was puzzling, well your job is not any easier now that they are adults.
Over the years in my practice, I have dealt with many parents. Here are some tips on what has helped parents successfully move to friends with their adult children to help you.
- Depending on what philosophy you raised them with has everything to do with how you choose to get along with them. Now, as when they were children, they all have different temperaments. They will see things differently from their brothers and sisters or you. Knowing this will give you a head start because if you ever want to get along with anyone you must first hear how they see it.
- Accept that now, as an adult, they actually do not have to see it your way. Even as a child they may not have seen it your way, so it is futile to think they should now.
- If you are the oldest in your own family chances are your youngest looked at life a lot differently than you did. However, that youngest had to live under your rules in really– your house. So, he either adapted which says he is flexible, or he rebelled, you know you’re a Christian and he decided to become a Buddhist. Now as an adult that is the way the ball bounces. Be glad he believes in someone, remember Buddha isn’t Charles Manson. So, your good. Eh?
- So, you had your heart on making a big wedding for your daughter. In your mind, she was going to grow up and marry a handsome prince who would take care of her and support her, even if she had a job or career. But now you find out she likes Margaret. So what? Does Margaret have a job, a car, and is she a good person? Grandchildren? Yes, you can still have them, although it is true you will have to adjust. Even if you have a son who loves another man, then you will have 2 sons, think of it that way. If need be and you have trouble explaining your child’s choice to relatives or friends, you can practice role-playing with someone else. This is call adaptation and acceptance. It is integral to being friends with your child and their significant other.
- Adult children who still live in your home which is also their home however more so yours as you paid the mortgage. The rule is school or work. It is the only way. Now depending on the work and their pay, you both can negotiate on what’s a good amount to contribute to the house. It is up to you to either use it for expenses or save it if you have a lot of money to give back when s/he decides to move out. Unless you have a plan when your child moves out, try making a deadline with a realistic goal in mind. I know some young adults who would like to stay home forever. That may or may not work for you. Now, you will need to decide when, for how long, and why? This will lead to a discussion on how much. Compassion is free from parents usually when the young adult gives a good reason. However, when you’ve been down this road one too many times, you have a problem, you may wish to seek personal counseling from me. Hey, we love our kids but remember when you told me you wanted to live in Africa when your son was 30?
- Who is sleeping in my house and with who needs a discussion and a limit? Think about what is safer for you and them. With your daughter, would you like her to get pregnant, and where? If no, and not in some back seat of a car, supply condoms or birth control. If she makes a mistake guess who is babysitting and maybe next time, she has to pay for her own birth control. So much for Africa! Better still it is good to set some limits and believe in education. You could do an educational workshop with both after dinner one night. Do not listen to oh mom! Just say it is ok, I know what I am talking about. How do you think you got here?
- Once they move out, they may or may not invite you for dinner. When you go over there do not complain about how low the couch is. It is not low for them. Just be amused with how they have pulled it together and of course say some nice things. They want to do things their way now and so if you want to come back, be respectful. No sneaking in their apartment to paint their bathroom. None of that stuff.
- And do not ask to meet their partners’ parents. It is a no-brainer like my son said you would not like them anyway!
- Getting along with our children requires us to be flexible. When and if you go there and they do not serve coffee ask for a glass of water, try not to stay too long as they will be waiting for you to go. Like my other son says, I hope you do not think we have to entertain you. Of course not, I said I’m just here sitting on the couch as you people watch your sitcom show.
- So now they are married and it’s a holiday. Whoopie.
- What’s going to happen? Anything? When you would like to make the dinner and have them over ask them three weeks before and repeat it every week after that. One week before, you can ask them to bring the dessert. If you stop doing all the work, making the thanksgivings or Christmas feasts, maybe they’ll invite you. My advice is if you love cooking make the turkey anyway and invite people to bring dishes over. Maybe they’ll come, maybe they won’t. But, you will be doing what you want or you could just go on a vacation. It’s time for you anyway.
- So, now there are grandchildren. Trust me they will want you now. Let the river flow. The great thing about grandchildren is you can give them back. And do a little at a time, so you are not wiped out for two days. Be careful, you may want to take each child separately, for the child’s sake and for your sake. However, your children’s idea is for you to take them all so they get a break. Well, let’s see how that works. However, you can choose to make the best of it.
- The last tip? When they do phone to say I love you, don’t ask when they are going to come over? Don’t send the title of that new song that’s out, “If you knew the world was ending, would you come over?” They won’t get it. And texting sucks! Nothing I text ever gets through!
Good luck, you are going to need it.
P. S. Parents usually find their adult children’s attitude changes at about 45-50 years of age. Don’t fret, the time passes quickly.
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