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  • Writer's pictureMichele Andorfer

Navigating Relationships with Adult Children

Motherhood is a funny thing, isn’t it? One day, you’re doing everything for a tiny baby; the next, they’re grown up, moving out, and maybe even starting their own families.


Even though it happens to every parent, few people talk about the transition between taking care of your kids’ every need and sending them out into the world. It can be hard to navigate how to be supportive while still letting them make their own decisions and live by their own rules.


Here are some tips that will help you navigate this new phase of your parent/child relationship in a way that will give them the freedom they deserve while still maintaining a strong and healthy bond with you.


Understand Each Phase

A big part of navigating your role with your adult child is understanding how they will need you in different ways during different points in their lives. A college student will need you differently than someone in their 40s. 


Being aware of what they need at different phases of their lives is important to the evolving relationship. It is also important to still give them the space they deserve. Give them room to grow, make their own choices, and learn from their own mistakes.


Embrace Their Temperament

You don’t always agree with everyone. This can also be true in a parent-child relationship. Everyone’s temperament is different. Learn to communicate in ways that don’t lead to conflict. Know that they will not always do things the way you would, but that’s ok. You raised your child to be independent and make their own decisions. Give them the freedom to figure things out for themselves.


Share Wisdom, Not Judgment

As our children age, it can be hard to watch them make decisions you might not necessarily agree with. Talk to them with grace and sensitivity instead of meeting them with disappointment and judgment


Try to see things from their perspective and embrace the fact that you raised a strong, confident child who isn’t afraid to make decisions for themselves.


Build a Relationship with Their Significant Other

Most parents want their children to be happy. For many of us, that means finding love and commitment. It can be hard for some parents to accept this, especially if they don’t necessarily enjoy being around the other person.


Before writing them off completely, try to find ways to connect with them and welcome them into your family. After all, if your child likes them, there has to be some good there, right?


Continue to Do Things You Love to Do Together

There’s no law saying that once your child turns 18, you must stop going shopping, to the beach, or to dinner with them. Even as they age, make time and space in your life to do the same traditions and activities that built up such a strong bond in the first place.


Know Your Role

There are going to be situations where your child comes directly to you for advice, but there will also be situations where they go to a friend or significant other first. Give them the space they need to grow, learn, and make mistakes.


Understand that, as they grow up, you might not always be their first call – and that’s okay! You’ve raised a well-adjusted adult who knows how to form solid relationships. You did a great job!


Rediscover Old Passions

One way to get your mind off of a changing relationship is to focus on something else. Instead of mourning the relationship you had with your child, rediscover some of your old passions


While your child is out learning, growing, and exploring the world, take a dance class, rediscover your love of art, or pick up a new hobby. This will help fill those gaps left in your schedule after your child moves on. When you’re busy, you won’t have time to push the boundaries of the adult child/parent relationship.


Ask for Help if You Need It

Navigating parenting at any stage can be a tough pill to swallow. If you find yourself completely in your head, don’t be afraid to seek help.


My one-on-one coaching program helps people navigate rough transitions in life. Reach out to me to learn more if you need help moving into your child’s adult years and navigating this new phase of your parent/child relationship.

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