Connection with Your Adult Children
by Sarah Hugee, Counseling Intern
This blog post is part of a series on connection written for Cedar Rapids Moms. The original post can be found here.
For most parents, the desire to foster connection and show love and support for children doesn’t end when the child crosses the threshold into adulthood, but it may be foreign territory to balance their boundaries and independence with your love and support. So, how do you foster connection and show love your now adult child who may have a career, or partner, or children of their own?
Cheer for Them!
Your adult children are navigating all the thrills and spills of being in adulthood and likely don’t know exactly what they are doing. Whether they are questioning their current job, their relationship, or their parenting skills, they most likely are experiencing instability in their confidence and/or esteem. When your child is facing adversity and challenges life throws their way, it can be helpful for them to know that you have their back! Your encouragement and empowerment can bring some connection to your relationship AND be the “attaboy” they need to power through their obstacles.
Being generous with your time, resources, and support can serve to create many opportunities for connection and good memories. For example, offering to block off days to help your adult children move into their new house or inviting them over for a meal can show them that you are dedicating some of your time, resources, and support to them.
Interrupt the Intervention Urge
I am positive that every parent struggles with the super strong urge to intervene in the lives of their child to either help them prevent a mistake/bad decision or to fix one. This makes sense! Watching our children struggle and make choices that we know will ultimately bring them pain is a special kind of torture. When our intervention is unsolicited, it can actually serve to disconnect us from our child due to them feeling judged, unsupported, or not trusted. Respect your child’s autonomy to make decisions (yes, even bad ones!!) and intervene only if invited.
Listening is Loving
Tying closely with not intervening, listening is one of the best tools that you have to foster connection with your child at any stage of their development, and this doesn’t change when they’re adults. As they age, they are discovering new things about themselves, others, and the world. Sometimes these new things are exciting and thrilling, while other times they are terrifying and frustrating. Asking your adult child how they are doing and giving them the space to have an open dialogue about what is going on in their life can support them in feeling loved, connected, and heard, and additionally helps you feel more connected to them as they are making all of this change and growth!
Tell them you love them! You can say it, text it, or snail mail a card! Preferably it will be both verbal and written expressions of your love. And when they reciprocate, you may feel a little more connected to them as well.
Fostering connection with adult children can be challenging and a big change from when they were little. Instead of cuddles, it can look like cheering. Instead of Legos, it can look like listening and sharing your own experiences with them. Whatever it looks like, connection between you and your adult child will be an important part of your life-long relationship.