Being a parent is a job that never ends, even after your children have grown up and had families of their own. While toddlers and teens were no easy feat, there are resources designed to help first-time parents get through those tumultuous times. But, unfortunately, these same resources don’t exist for parents who have children that are all grown up.
Whether your definition of adulthood means your child has turned 18 or it’s more about their level of maturity, young adults still have problems. From student loan debt to life issues like searching for a job, it can be difficult to know what to say or do to make your children feel heard and loved when they’re adults.
Life for twenty-something looks different than life for a forty-year-old child. If you have a large family, you’ll probably have adult children of all ages that have different problems they have to face. Here’s how you can parent after your children have become adults.
Parenting Adult Children
The age of changing diapers and worrying about paying for college tuition is over. Whether you’re relieved or stressed about your child becoming an adult, you’ll have to embrace their independence and let them learn how to live their own lives. Here are a few ways you can have a healthy relationship with your adult children and parent them beyond their teens.
Respect Your Differences
Your adult child is their own person, which means conflicts can arise. Any previous conflicts may also stick around. Sometimes conflicts can be as simple as a personality clash, while other times, they can be an argument over a major life decision. Even if you have had your differences before, now is the time to respect those differences.
You may not always agree with their choices, but you must remember they are an independent adult whose views differ from yours. There’s no reason to cause conflict just because your child doesn’t agree with you about something; instead, support their choices and let them know you’re there to help no matter what.
Sharing your wisdom without being critical can be different. Your child may have a different temperament and may not respond well to your advice even though you think it would be helpful for them to hear. If they sense you’re critical of their choices, they may choose to stop speaking to you just like you would with a friend who was being critical of you.
When you’re sharing wisdom, be sensitive to your child’s needs. In some cases, giving advice isn’t always best. If your child comes to you with a problem, they may not be looking for a solution; instead, they might just need someone to talk to so they can work out a solution on their own.
Whether your adult child is living at home or across the country, no matter your living situation, you still need boundaries. There will be times when you are the first person to get a call when your child has a problem, but other times they are going to want to figure it out with their partner or a friend before coming to you.
In addition, just because your children are grown doesn’t mean you should tell them all of the details about your life, such as discussions you’re having with your partner or spouse. Without having boundaries, you can expect some conflict. Instead, talk with your child and set rules for how to disagree and what the boundaries should be. Setting boundaries can feel uncomfortable, but it will make your lives easier.
Do Things You Both Like
Once your child is grown, they may have a family of their own or a demanding job that requires a lot of their time. Your child will not be able to spend as much time with you as you may like, but when you do spend time together, make it something you both enjoy so they’ll enjoy it more and won’t worry about the other stressors of their life.
For example, if you know your son likes bowling, continue to take him bowling through his adult life. Then, when your children become adults, talk to them about what they like. The things they liked when they were teenagers might not be the same once they’ve hit adulthood.
Make Room for Their Significant Others
Sharing your children with their spouses can be difficult, but these relationships are important to them, so you need to allow them their independence. Instead of being resentful that someone has taken away the time you share with your child, get to know them without being critical.
As a parent, you’ll be one of the first people your adult child goes to for advice. However, if you handle this advice incorrectly, you can damage your relationship with your child. Instead of telling your child what to do, give them advice on what you think the best solutions to their problems are.
For example, if you feel like you regret not making healthier choices whether it be through eating habits or exercising often, encourage your child to prioritize this. They could start small like using natural products when cooking, or more drastic like cutting out certain food groups.
Prepare for the Future
Parenting never ends even after your children have reached adulthood. Even though you might not be paying their bills, you can prepare for their entire future by creating your end-of-life planning they can follow afterward. By preparing your estate plan, you can make sure your children don’t have to fight over your assets after you pass away. While you may not think your children will do this, it is more common than you think.
An estate plan will give the court a plan for what to do with your assets, allowing your children the ease of receiving your assets without having to worry about a lengthy and expensive probate process.
Parenting Adult Children
Being a parent to an adult child isn’t easy. You’ll need to adjust your parenting style from when they were young to help them thrive as an independent person. If your child lives at home, make sure to set clear boundaries. If your child doesn’t live at home, make sure you can be a sounding board for them.