You’ve been a parent, maybe even promoted to grandparent (the best type of promotion). As you watch your children deal with family, career and aging issues themselves, they probably will be able to relate to you now more than at any other point in their lives.
While the job of parenting is never done, your children can now appreciate where you were coming from all those years, and you will notice your relationship take on a whole new dynamic. Here are some ways you can strengthen your relationships with adult children.
Keep Clear Boundaries
Although you may want to openly criticize your daughter or son for the way they interact with their children or how they handle a stressful situation at work, such straightforward and harsh criticisms could keep them from sharing their problems with you in the future. Even if you shared a close relationship when your adult child was younger, you risk overstepping parental boundaries by offering unsolicited advice.
Being a parent to adult children presents the repeated opportunity to bite your tongue and instead lend a sympathetic ear. Waiting for your adult child to come to you for advice can pay off in richer, more nuanced conversations in the future.
Agree to Disagree
Now that your child is a rational adult, it is OK to not agree on everything. After spending years of getting them to follow your rules and see your point of view on just about everything, this might not be an easy transition.
If you reach a point in a conversation where you simply can’t agree to disagree on the subject, ask them to shelve the topic for now and plan to revisit it another time with cooler heads. But if you can’t reach an agreement, sleeping on it works just as well for a parent/child relationship as it does any other. In the long run, this will help you maintain your own happiness and your adult child’s.
Understand Your Children Are Aging, Too
Don’t forget that the older you get, the older your children get, too. As your children start to phase out of middle age and into early senior life, they will begin experiencing the complexities of aging. You’ve been through that and can help them avoid making difficult times harder.
If they are caring for you (or you and your spouse), try helping them avoid caregiver burnout by encouraging them to take time for themselves. As you remember, caring for someone else can be tiring, and it’s good for them to take a break and clear their thoughts. That way, when they return, they are clear-headed and ready to deal with all the facets of their lives.
Admit to yourself that you might be having a hard time accepting that your adult children are not young anymore — it can be difficult to watch them begin to suffer from arthritis or require a cane or hearing aid. Try to alleviate some of their stress by being an ever-loving parent to the children you nurtured from infants into adulthood.
There are many aspects of your life to consider as you enter your retirement years, and a strong relationship with your adult children means you can involve them in the discussion when you are making life decisions. One of the many decisions you will need to make is whether aging in place is the right choice for you. This popular trend among seniors is shaking up the norm, but is not right for everyone. If this is something you’ve been considering, download our free guide, Aging in Place: A Popular Trend for a New Generation of Seniors.