As a parent, you want the best for your children. It can be difficult to see your adult child face disappointment and make mistakes. Your first instinct may be to try and fix things for them or dole out advice, which can often be perceived as criticism. Relationship counseling suggests trying these tips to help you learn positive ways to show support and compassion for your child, and can lead to better communication and a more fulfilling relationship:
Even in casual conversation, being a good listener improves communication. Ask your child about how they’re doing and things that are happening in their life. If they are venting, try not to interject with your own opinions. Let them finish before responding. It can be helpful to offer advice, but before you do, be sure to show empathy and offer statements of encouragement and understanding. Sometimes, what children seek most of all is for you to be on their side.
Because parents want the best for their children, it is normal to want to point out areas in their children’s lives that need improvement. While this usually comes from an honest desire to be helpful, it can actually have the reverse effect and make your child feel incompetent and judged. When speaking with your child, a helpful tactic is to ask yourself, “How can my words be helpful? Will what I’m about to say positively impact the situation?” Even if you think your child is making a poor choice, try to express your concern without sounding bossy or condescending.
Although it is good to be honest with your child, keep in mind, children are constantly seeking the approval of their parents. Therefore, it’s important to be extra mindful of your delivery. Remember, it’s less about what you say than how you say it.
However, we all say things that come out in a way we don’t intend sometimes. If you’ve unintentionally upset someone with a remark or unsolicited advice, the best thing to do is apologize. Do your best not to make excuses or become defensive, as that can escalate the situation and cause your child to feel like they’re not being heard or their feelings don’t matter.
When your child was little, they were dependent on you for almost everything, which makes many parents feel loved and needed. As children grow, they become more independent, meaning your relationship with your child will change. Even though they may not rely on you for everything anymore, a healthy relationship with an adult child can be just as fulfilling in a different way.
Learning to let go and maintain healthy boundaries is key to a positive relationship. Even though you’ll always be their parent, it’s important to treat your adult child as an equal by valuing their opinions and allowing them to make their own choices. Give them space to come to you.
It can be easy to assume your child knows you love them and are proud of them, but that isn’t always so. Saying these things out loud allows your child to feel you believe in them and their abilities to handle challenges, which gives them a stronger sense of confidence. If they are facing a challenge, let them know you believe they can handle it by offering positive reinforcement.
If you’re struggling with how to communicate with your adult child, relationship counseling at Kayenta Therapy can give you the tools you need to become a positive influencer in their life. Contact a therapist directly to schedule a session today.