Please Don't Do This To Your Adult Children

Glenna Gill

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In total, I have two sons who are full-grown adults plus a daughter who is still 14 and lives under my roof. If I had one wish from a genie’s bottle, it would be that I could spend just one day with them all little again and just play with them. Those were the happiest times of my life by far. Sadly, they flew by way too fast.

These days, my adult boys tell me they don’t need anything, a strike in every mother’s heart who wants to nurture her babies. No matter how old they get, they are still my little boys, although I’d never tell them so out of embarrassment for them. I knew when they were growing up that our relationship would likely change, but I wanted it to change for the better and not drift farther apart. I laid out some ground rules for myself and how I related to my adult children. Here is what I discovered:

Adult Children Need Hugs As Much As We Do

When my 22-year-old son sees me, he hugs me so tight I can barely breathe and then does it all over again on his way out. My 18-year-old will spend the night at my house and want me to sit on the couch with him and watch TV. I don’t think cuddling between parents and children ever goes out of style. I always wanted my house to feel safe for them, a place to land where they wouldn’t be judged or pressured. The world does too much of that already.

Don’t Drink Or Party With Your Kids

Your kids, no matter what age, don’t need you to “hang out” with them. They already have enough friends. Young adults need somebody they can look up to. Going out and getting drunk with your kids is likely more upsetting than your children let on. They don’t want to see you as a peer but as their rock. When you shatter that illusion, it can cause damage in your relationships going forward. It’s a long stretch between a family wedding where everyone has a glass of champagne and going out and buying Jack Daniels for you and your kid on a boring Saturday night.

Be Nice to Your Child’s Significant Other

Believe me, I know it can be rough when your son or daughter falls in love. That relationship takes precedence over all others whether we like it or not. If you have something negative to tell your child about their partner, bite your tongue and don’t try to interfere in their relationships. In fact, the more welcoming you are, the more time you might get to spend with your child. Just think, you can whip out all the baby pictures when their dates come over and tell cute stories about the family.

No Kid Wants TMI From Their Parents At Any Age

Your adult child does not need to know too much information about your personal life except the bare minimum. That goes double for your sex life. Just like you still see them as little and helpless even though they’re grown, they see you as a parent, not a buddy. Save those stories for the ladies at bridge or whatever you’re into.

Create Opportunities For Bonding

I’m not talking about an elaborate scheme to trap your child into spending time with you. Think of the time between you as quality, not just quantity. Some of the best conversations take place doing dishes together after a nice meal or talking about a movie you just watched together. I’ve learned to give my children the space to come to me rather than me nagging them about everything.

Make A Group Chat For Funny Memes and Jokes

When my oldest son went away to college, I made a chat group for me and all three of my kids. We send each other funny things that we see on the internet, and sometimes that’s enough for a real heart-to-heart chat when I least expect it. Making that group chat is the single biggest method I have to keep in touch with my kids. I use it several times a week to let them know I’m thinking about them, even if it just consists of a funny joke or meme.

I’ll be honest. When my kids were growing up, I was not the best parent in the world as I struggled with my mental health, specifically bipolar disorder, but I’ve always made sure to show them I love them with all my heart. I have had more stability in recent years, so I try to spend as much time with my children as they want. I’ve given sincere apologies to all of them for my shortcomings now that they’re grown up, and we were able to heal the rift between us. I’ll never take that for granted again.

Our kids have boundaries, too, even when they’re grown. Being in my children’s lives has given me a better sense of responsibility. I don’t tell them what to do or yell at them because they are wise enough to make good decisions. I may give my opinion sometimes, but just a suggestion they can either follow or not with no judgment either way. They are the only ones with control over their lives, not me. So far it’s been a wonderful journey.

Of course, I’m secretly waiting for grandchildren, but I know enough to keep my lip zipped.

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I write about lifestyle issues, including such topics as parenting, mental illness, family, substance abuse, marriage/divorce, and inspiration. My hope is that these stories will help people suffering from similar issues by reading about other's experiences.

West Palm Beach, FL
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