Your relationship with your kids is perfect, right? If your relationship is good but could be better or if you feel like you could use some help, here are Three Tips to a Good Relationship with your Adult Children.
Our family is a blended family. Not blended in the way where the father has children from a previous marriage and so does the mother and now they are trying to blend both sides of the family together. Ours is blended through adoption.
While we were raising our three children, we often felt inadequate about being parents and if we were doing the right thing. We would always be interested in talking to other parents about how they were getting their kids to sleep through the night, how to get them to eat their green beans or how they were navigating through the teenage years.
During this time of child-rearing there was another family that we knew that also had adopted children and we loved “sharing notes” about what each one of us was doing within our family life. Our greatest desire was that we would raise our children in such a way that they would want to stay close to us as they got older and evolved into adults.
With this end in mind, I will never forget an experience that this family shared with me. My friend, Ben, was at a wedding reception for a friend of theirs and noticed that all of the adult kids in this family made an effort to come and chat with their mother. Ben said that he could see the respect for this mother in all of her children’s faces and he wondered what in the heck she did to have this great relationship with her adult children.
When a quieter moment came, Ben went to her table and told her that he had been observing her with her children and that he noticed the respect and admiration they had for her. He asked her that if she could give him one piece of advice about what she did to develop that relationship, what would it be?
“I stand in the corner, wear beige and keep my mouth shut.”
What did she mean by that?
It has been about 15 years since hearing this advice and it is something that I have pondered over greatly. Now that my own children are 28, 28 and 30, I have some thoughts about this.
Here is my opinion of what she meant.
Stand in the corner
Unfortunately your 15 minutes (or more like 20 years) of fame is over. You’ve had your time to be the all-knowing resource to which your children turn to. In a way, that time is over. I am not proposing that we stop being an example to our children but now is the time to blend into the background. It is time to let our children fly and make decisions on their own which is how it should be. I would be concerned if every adult child still had to consult with their parent before making a decision. Our goal as a parent should be to raise responsible, independent and confident members of our society. Our hope is to have our children be self-sufficient and self-reliant adults. Let your children make their own decisions, make their own mistakes and learn their own lessons without interfering.
Instead of stepping out of your corner and telling your kids what they should do, let your children come to you. The more you offer unsolicited advice, the more your adult children don’t want to hear it. However, if you withhold your advice, chances are your kids might even come to you and actually ask for your advice. Although don’t be upset if they don’t take your most excellent advice. At least they asked.
What does “wear beige” mean? Similar to standing in the corner, it means not to bring attention to yourself. One area I believe where parents need to exercise restraint is on social media. If your adult kids are on Facebook, Instagram, etc., be VERY selective about how much you like, share or post, if any at all. I do send my kids things on social media that I think they might enjoy but I always send it privately instead of publicly so it doesn’t look like “mommy” is sending them things for all to see.
Keep your mouth shut
Rather self-explanatory, but oh so hard to do.
When your adult children are discussing an aspect of their life with you, don’t automatically jump in and tell them what you know about the subject or tell them what you think they should do.
Listen more than you talk.
Express confidence in your adult child as they make an effort to take on more responsibilities. And here’s a big tip….don’t ask too many questions. Once you start doing that, your kids will tune out and you will be immediately cut-off. Your child will be off to grab a burger and your moment to have them talk to you will be over.
My relationship with my adult children is very gratifying and adds so much value to my life. They are an absolute joy to be around and I respect each and every one of them. Although I am not perfect in these three areas by any means and I make many mistakes, I feel like my kids are forgiving and accepting because they know that I really do try hard to stand in the corner, wear beige and keep my mouth shut. Most of the time.
Disclaimer: These ideas are for a general basis only. If you are a parent that is dealing with an adult child who has alcoholism, drug addictions, pornography addictions or is doing something illegal or dangerous, then other measures need to be taken.