Normal Parent-Adult Child Relationship: 5 Things Nobody Told You About.

“I have failed as a Mother!” said Beverly Goldberg from the family sitcom ‘The Goldbergs’ who has a tough time letting go of the fact that her children are now grown. Have you too declared like Beverly when you hit a snag in your relationship with your adult son or daughter? I have undoubtedly said so too many times than I care to admit. The only problem with you declaring your failure as a parent is that you probably haven’t. The reason is that there are things nobody has told you about normal parent and adult-child relationships yet.

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You see, parent and adult children relationships are different; it’s unlike any other relationship, you have with your siblings, friends, neighbours or work colleagues. It is a relationship that has been moulded through the highs and lows of life’s pottery wheel. The shifts you are experiencing with your adult child are mostly results of how your child interpreted how you handled your relationship’s challenges during those growing years. Their relationship with you in their adult life reflects a shift in roles as your interdependencies change.

Today, you are about to uncover 5 things you didn’t know was normal about Parent and adult-child relationships. Read on and let’s unpack them together.

You Feel Ambivalent.

That ‘love-hate’ situation that pops up between you and your adult child is intergenerational, and it is perfectly normal. According to Jung & Jopp’s brilliant academic journal published in 2019, this phenomenon has been scientifically proven. It could be the occasional clash of heads over your choices and decisions. Sometimes your adult child hates your guts, other times you are the best buddies. It is normal and signifies a healthy relationship, especially when both of you can see the folly of your misunderstanding and patch things up. It is okay to have these feelings sometimes.  A note of warning here though, don’t let this become frequent and more intense because it then becomes unhealthy.

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You Switch Roles.

The older you and your adult child grow, the more aware you become of changes in your responsibilities and dependencies on each other. You might have noticed that your adult children (depending on how old they are) will make a lot of fuss about you than you do about them. You will also be prone to seeking their advice and opinion a lot more. You become less in tune with shifting cultural and technological trends around you which they are far more familiar with. This is the cycle of life, and it’s a regular occurrence in healthy parent adult-child relationships. If you are into textbooks and academic reading, in that case, Kirby and Hoang’s Parenting of adult children will be an excellent resource for you.

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You Hold On To Old Beliefs.

You and your adult child are different individuals. You both will forever hold personal preferences that can never mix like oil and water and which you will never quite agree on. It could be a world-shattering difference as significant as the debate of if beans belong on Weetabix or not. Your adult children will have some strongly held views you knew about when they were kids. It is time you realise nothing will change them. It does not mean you can’t enjoy your relationship even if it is a potential flashpoint at the dinner table. The benefit of you knowing is to avoid such landmines if you cannot discuss without accepting their differing views. Not respecting adult children’s differences is one reason they ignore their parents.

You Don’t Know as Much as You used to.

Once upon a time, you knew all there was to know about your child, for instance, their friends, school time table, lunch time table, dental appointments, girlfriend or boyfriend breakup and so on. Now, as adult children, you seem to know very little because they no longer live with you and because they simply don’t tell you. This is not to say they no longer need your help. Part of the process is involving you less while they try to sort things out on their own. You will eventually be privy to some stuff going on in their lives. Just be sure not to push it. Respect their boundaries, and they’ll love you for being there for them whenever they need your advice and help.

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You Become Friends.

Friendship with your adult child is also commonplace in parent adult-child relationships. According to Elizabeth Fishel and Jeffrey Arnett, this is the most fulfilling part of this changing interaction between you and your adult child. Fishel and Arnett’s research also indicates that 75 percent of parents reported that their relationship with their grown-up children was better than when they were teenagers. Your adult child at this stage in his or her life needs a different kind of support from you. They want to make you proud, and your role is to respect them and give them the confidence boost they need. Fishel and Arnett provide some valuable tips on relating to your adult child here.

Dealing with the changing dynamics in your relationship with your adult child can be complicated.  It can be a struggle. It can also be rewarding if you bear these 5 points in mind. So, unlike Beverly Goldberg, stop telling yourself you have failed as a parent. Instead, tell yourself “We got this!”

Debbs O'Malley

A Parent, A Dreamer and Coffee lover.

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