Perhaps your adult child has moved back home recently, and you’re both butting heads. Or maybe you’ve noticed that every time you visit them, your conversations feel tense. And you may even find yourself dreading weekend phone calls because the two of you always end up arguing.
If your relationship with your emerging adult child feels strained, you’re not alone. Many parents go through the same experience with their children as they get older. In a lot of instances, communication will naturally get easier as the years go by. But if you need some strategies to deal with the issue now, consider the following to help you improve your relationship.
Resist the Urge to Control
You’re older. You’ve seen more of the world. You’ve made your mistakes, and you have more life experience than your child. When they’re trying to make a decision, your natural instinct is to give them advice so they can benefit from your wisdom.
But, when they don’t listen, you feel slightly annoyed. After all, you’re just trying to help. You just want to protect them from making mistakes. And this often sparks fights.
However, it’s important to remember that, at their age, your child needs to learn how to make their own decisions. That means allowing them to make their own mistakes too, even if it’s hard to resist the urge to jump in.
Don’t Play the Blame Game
You and your child might blame each other when something goes wrong. Your child says it was your fault, but you believe your child was in the wrong.
However, blaming each other is counterproductive and will ultimately lead nowhere. Instead, it’s important to honestly assess your own behavior and consider how you contribute to the conflict. Honest reflection is the only way to start down the path of positive change. Acknowledge your contribution to the situation and your emerging adult child will become less defensive. And maybe they’ll even take your lead and reflect on their part in the conflict!
But… Should You Stay Silent Instead?
Sometimes, you might be tempted to simply bite your tongue when your adult child pushes your buttons. It’s easy to assume that holding back your feelings is the only way to achieve peace. But staying silent can easily lead to a blow-up down the road.
Instead, it can help to take some time away from the conversation to process your thoughts. Think of what you want to say, and prepare for how your child might respond. When you’re ready, sit down to talk with them again and share your feelings. Though, make it a two-way conversation, not a directive, complain-fest, or a yelling match.
Have Realistic Expectations
Your child might always be a little messier than you would like or be prone to procrastination. There are certain aspects of someone’s personality that you just can’t change. So, if it’s something you can live with, it’s easiest to just accept it and let it go.
But what if there’s a behavior you can’t accept? If you argue over it frequently, observe your own reaction. What triggers your response? How do these arguments proceed? When you realize which “dance steps” the two of you tend to follow, you can change your approach to avoid getting into the same fights over and over again.
When you have to discuss something important with your child, it’s important to get into the right mindset. How? Focus on all of the times your conversations have ended positively rather than negatively.
With age and maturity, your adult child will likely begin to gain a deeper understanding of your point of view. Your relationship will not be rocky forever. Together, you can strengthen your bond, find common ground, and break the cycle of conflict.
Are you and your emerging adult child struggling to mend your relationship? Do you feel like you would benefit from working with a neutral third party to guide you through discussions and disagreements? We’re here to help. Learn more about how we can help with the “failure to launch” situation or reach out for a free 20 minute phone consultation.