ULTIMATE GUIDE: 33 TIPS FOR GETTING ALONG WITH YOUR ADULT KIDS
Finally – the secrets to how to get along with adult kids!
How to Get Along With Your Adult Children
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So last evening my wife and I were at dinner with some good friends and we started talking about our kids and all that kind of stuff. All of their kids are fully grown adults. It was great hearing about their kids and that got me thinking about the kind of questions that I’m often asked by those I coach about how to deal with their adult kids.
Many parents simply do not get along with their adult kids.
I get questions from clients about this topic all the time. What can we do? How can I fix the problems between me and my adult children? How should I treat my child now that she’s an adult? What should I do about my oldest son not speaking to us? Sometimes, adult children are not communicative. Sometimes they don’t want to be close. Sometimes it’s that the adult kid no longer wants to be close. They many not want to visit. Sometimes those adult kids are just nasty. They might want to argue all the time. And much, much more.
Today I’m going to offer my best advice for getting along with your adult kids. These tips I share have worked so often for so many of my coaching clients that I’m calling this the…
Ultimate Guide: 33 Tips For Getting Along With Your Adult Kids
That’s right, 33 tips for getting along with your unsavory, perhaps nasty, and sometimes knuckle-headed adult children.
I have one of my own adult children in studio with me today. This is great because she is going to get the opportunity to ask me a question on this topic later on. I don’t know what the question is but I can tell you this, I will have an answer.
By the way – I define an adult child as a child of yours who is of adult age, is not on your payroll (is gainfully employed), and is out in the world trying to make their way. If the adult child is living at home, he or she is working or in school and are providing money for their rent and food.
Let’s get started on those 33 tips.
How to Get Along With Adult Kids – Tip #1
The very first tip to get along with your adult kids is to see them as adults. It’s hard to do because you’ve known them since birth – before actually! You knew them when they were in diapers. You knew them when they couldn’t speak. You knew them when they were peeing at you during diaper changes. You knew them when they needed you to encourage them before they’d go on-stage to perform in the school play. You knew them when they first played sports. You knew them when they were getting their first job, applying to college, crying for about something, learning to swim.
You have such a history with them, it’s difficult to let go of who they were. But, they become adults and they must be allowed to move into that adult world. That’s why you raised them, right?
So, first see them as adults.
Here’s a question sent to me via my Life Coaching message hotline (at CoachMobley.com).
“This is Amber from Louisville. I’ve got a 27 year old daughter and a 21 year old son, my 27 year old is making all types of bad decisions in her career. She won’t take any advice from me. I’m trying to help her. What do I do?”
Thank you so much for sending in the message. So you have a 27 year old and a 21 year old. The 27 year old is a daughter and career-wise, she’s a train wreck. Amber, here’s the deal: First, you need to deal with your 27 year old daughter as an adult. She is. Get out of her professional business. Be her mother. Be positive in your interactions.
How to Get Along With Adult Kids – Tip #2
The second tip – for Amber and everyone else – Make the relationship with your adult child the priority. The relationship is what’s important. Make it a great one. Very little else matters.
How to Get Along With Adult Kids – Tip #3
Treat your adult child the same way you treat other adults who are his/her age. You probably know other people who are 27 years old, 28 or 30 or 26 or 25 or whatever, right? How do you treat them? That is honestly how you need to begin treating your own adult child. She’s not 12 anymore. Your child may be 27 years old and making jacked-up decisions. But, you still have to treat her as if she is an adult because… she is.
How to Get Along With Adult Kids – Tip #4
Only concern yourself with the information about your adult child that you truly need-to-know. Don’t get so into your adult child’s life that you’re trying to learn everything they’re doing. Wrong move there. The most important thing is to remember that there’s certain information you need to know, and other information that is none of your business. When your child was 8 years old, you needed to know everything he was into. Now that he’s an adult – – get out of his business! Don’t be that overbearing, off-putting, far too nosey parent.
How to Get Along With Adult Kids – Tip #5
When your adult kid was pre-adult, you probably had a good number of salty conversations with her/him. Doing school work. Getting better grades. Cleaning her room. Washing his clothes. Dressing appropriately. Behaving in any number of situations. And on and on.
That necessary pattern of conversing (in sometimes negative tone) with your pre-adult in order to “raise ‘em right” has probably morphed right into the way you converse with your adult child. I’m here to tell you that you need to break this habit of negative conversation.
Always lead off your conversations with your adult child using positive and kind remarks.
How to Get Along With Adult Kids – Tip #6
Make sure that you are open to feedback emotionally.
A lot of times your adult kids may come to you and want to tell you things. They want to give you feedback, they want to give input on what you’re doing, they want to pour into your bucket.
You’ve been pouring into their bucket all your life, right? You need to be open to their feedback. You need to show that you’re open to their wisdom. Encourage them to give you feedback.
And oh yeah, take their feedback with grace.
How to Get Along With Adult Kids – Tip #7
You love your grandkids. They think you are just the best! When you see them they run up to hug you. And, if you are like most grandparents, in these situations you barely acknowledge your own adult kids.
I’m here to tell you that, that is a prescription for a negative relationship between you and your own child.
Make listening to your adult kids a priority, even when your grandkids are around. Let them know that they remain your priority and that you care about them.
Don’t worry, you’ll still get a lot of time with your grandkids.
How to Get Along With Adult Kids – Tip #8
Let’s keep the building of your relationship between you and your adult kid very simple: Tell your adult kid as often as you can that you love them. Tell them again and again and again.
Tell them you love them when you talk to them by phone. Tell them when you text them. Tell them when you see them at dinner. Tell them all the time that you love them and how much you love them.
Saying, “I love you,” is the lubricant in the engine that makes every relationship run smoother.
“The 3 words ‘I Love You’ are the only words that are so powerful that we are told to never say them unless we mean it because of what it communicates to the person to whom it is said!”
How to Get Along With Adult Kids – Tip #9
Make sure that you nurture the relationship with your own kids even when they’re adults.
You know that every relationship has to be developed and nurtured, just as you would nurture a flower garden.
If you want a beautiful, bountiful flower garden, you have got to plant the flowers in quality soil. You’ve got to regularly fertilize the soil. You have to water the soil appropriately. You have to regularly remove the weeds. You have to remove the insects and bugs. You have to prune the flowers. Only if you do all of that can you be sure that your flower garden grows beautifully.
And, you have to keep treating the flower garden well if you want it to remain vibrant and beautiful. You can’t be good to your flower garden for one month and expect that to do it for the rest of time. You have to be good to your flower garden, day after day, and season after season.
As with a flower garden, same with the relationship between you and your adult kids. A relationship – even one involving your own flesh & blood – that you don’t properly develop, that you don’t nurture… begins to wither and it will die off.
Make you’re providing the relationship with your adult kids all of the nutrients needed for it to grow.
How to Get Along With Adult Kids – Tip #10
Hug it out. For many years I have observed that we hug what we love.
Some people hug their cup of coffee as if it is life itself. That’s a close relationship.
Some people hug their cigarette. That’s a close relationship.
Well what I’m telling you to do is to hug your adult kids as often as you can. Do it all the time. You can’t do it enough.
How to Get Along With Adult Kids – Tip #11
So let’s say that you call your adult child and the first thing you do is ask about the grandkids. Wrong move ace!
You can see that a core of my message on getting along with your adult kids is to keep them as the priority in your communications. Don’t take them for granted. Here’s why…
As your adult kids get older, they begin to deal with adult things. They’re going to be faced with new challenges and choices they have never had before.
They need your wisdom and support now more than ever.
Make sure that you ask them how they’re doing, first. Ask them if there’s anything you can help them, first.
They may say no, no, a thousand times no when you ask them. But that 1,001 time, they may say, “Yes. I need some perspective on something I’m dealing with.” That’s when you shine.
How to Get Along With Adult Kids – Tip #12
When it comes to adult children, there’s a point at which my advice needs to be requested. It cannot be pushed on them.
When my kids were younger… ten, twelve, fifteen years old… you have to know that my advice was coming whether they wanted it or not. That’s part of the parenting job.
But. Your. Adult. Kids. Are. Not. Little. Any. Longer.
Learn how to keep your big fat mouth shut unless they are really is in a situation that you’ve just got to step in and stop their train from wrecking.
How to Get Along With Adult Kids – Tip #13
Forgive them for their youthful transgressions and learn how to apologize for your own mistakes.
“I made a mistake.”
Let them know that your love for them is greater than any ego that might stop you from apologizing for something that you did wrong.
How to Get Along With Adult Kids – Tip #14
Text your adult child frequently. Make your text message one that expresses your belief in them, your pride in them, your constant support of their pursuit of their dreams
How to Get Along With Adult Kids – Tip #15
I still remember when my Mother complimented me in great detail about how much I encouraged my youngest child to tell me about her day. The fact that my Mother noticed what I was doing as a father made me try even harder to be a good father. I benefited. My kids benefited. And my Mother got more of the thing she encouraged.
Give your adult child glorious, wonderful, massive praise for what they do for you, with you, or in their own life. Maybe they got a promotion at work. Perhaps they bought a new dress. Maybe they shared an article with you.
As long as you mean it, you can’t praise too much.
They say that “You reap what you sow.” Your adult kids are what you have reaped.
Your adult child will be drawn closer by praise and pushed away by criticism.
How to Get Along With Adult Kids – Tip #16
Be clear on what the boundaries are in the relationship with your adult child. Know which areas of their life are private. Respect their privacy. Don’t be the overbearing and undermining parent.
How to Get Along With Adult Kids – Tip #17
You’ve got to be all about listening now because your adult kids are living that adult life and they’re going through things. They’re confused sometimes. They’re mystified sometimes. They’re amazed sometimes. They’re joyous sometimes. During these times, they need a trusted sounding board. Just be there for them.
Listen more than you talk.
How to Get Along With Adult Kids – Tip #18
Set ground rules for how you’re going to debate or disagree about things. It’s no longer, “My way or the highway.” It’s more collaborative now because both of you are adults.
My advice: Work to a win-win solution in disputes with your adult child. Short of that, know that most times it’s okay to disagree.
How to Get Along With Adult Kids – Tip #19
When you do disagree, follow this checklist:
1. Make sure that you are clear on what it is that is bothering you and what it is that is bothering them. Don’t assume you know. Ask for clarification.
2. Ask yourself, “Is fighting about this worth it?” Most things are not worth a fight.
3. Listen to understand, not to argue your point. Dr. Stephen Cover wrote “Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood,” as the fifth habit in his book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.”
“If you’re like most people, you probably seek first to be understood; you want to get your point across. And in doing so, you may ignore the other person completely, pretend that you’re listening, selectively hear only certain parts of the conversation or attentively focus on only the words being said, but miss the meaning entirely. So why does this happen? Because most people listen with the intent to reply, not to understand. You listen to yourself as you prepare in your mind what you are going to say, the questions you are going to ask, etc. You filter everything you hear through your life experiences, your frame of reference. You check what you hear against your autobiography and see how it measures up. And consequently, you decide prematurely what the other person means before he/she finishes communicating.”
4. Stay on the fact train. In other words, speak real facts – not opinion – when you’re disagreeing. Most people don’t know the difference.
5. Approach the conversation with these beliefs: “I don’t win unless you win. If you lose, I lose. We win together.” When you approach disagreements in this manner, then the conversation takes on a whole new tone.
6. Don’t focus on winning the argument with your adult child. Share your thoughts and try to be understood.
7. Know when to defer. Sometimes your adult child has a better idea. Crazy to consider, huh?
How to Get Along With Adult Kids – Bonus Tip
Speaking of knowing when to defer, I’ve got my oldest child (she’s now an adult) as a guest here in the studio with me. I think we have a great relationship, but I wanted her to ask me a question she might have about this whole parent-adult child dynamic. I do not know what she’s going to ask me. Here she is:
Oldest Child: Yeah Dad, I’ve got a question for you.
Coach Mobley (aka, “Dad”): All right.
Oldest Child: What was the most difficult part of transitioning to parenting me when I was a kid to parenting me as an adult?
Coach Mobley: So I assume you mean the most difficult part for me?
Oldest Child: Yes. For you.
Coach Mobley: The most difficult part for me in the transition of you from child to true adult was letting you make mistakes that I knew could have been avoided. That was very difficult.
I never like self-inflicted wounds.
When you were younger, I could suggest that you to do this or that in order to get a better outcome. And in truth, sometimes I’d tell you that we’re not having a dialogue here, we are having a monologue. And then, I’d tell you what I wanted you to do.
Once you became an adult, we started having more dialogues and you got a chance to chat back and forth with me about decisions you wanted to make. Now that you’re an adult, you have to come to me with your questions because I respect the transition you and I are making.
As a parent, it is still sometimes difficult for me to wait for you to come to me because sometimes, I can see what’s coming at you before you can because I’ve been there and done that.
But, I keep my mouth shut because to not let you do some of this stuff on your own is not helping you grow.
It’s very difficult because I love you and want the best for you.
Remember when you graduated from college, got a job, and were off my payroll, and I told you that I was going to step back and if you wanted advice from me you’d have to…
Oldest Child: Ask for it.
Coach Mobley: Thank you so much for the question.
Oldest Child: You are welcome.
Coach Mobley: What a great daughter. Alright, so here we go to number 20.
How to Get Along With Adult Kids – Tip #20
Do things with your adult kid that you both enjoy.
When your kids were younger, you’d go to the park and play t-ball or soccer or football or basketball or whatever with your kid because that’s what they wanted to do.
Well, it really should not be so different now when they’re adults.
You should still do things with them that they love.
Here’s an example: One of my kids (not yet an adult) is interested in Hollywood and doing things in film and TV. As a result of this child’s interest, we often go to the movie theaters and watch all of the movie…and then some. Yes. We sit and watch ALL of the credits roll and the end of the movie because that is what that child of mine is interested in.
Honestly, I don’t care who did the lighting or clothing or location scouting for the movie. But, this child does care. So… we sit and watch.
Find out what your adult child likes to do and do that with him/her. You’ll be shocked, amazed, and very happy was what happens with the relationship between the two of you.
One day your adult child might be involved with somebody and get married. And then there’s going to be their in-laws and everything else that comes along with that life change – – just like you did, right?
You’ve got to make space in your life for their significant others because your kids are not all yours anymore. Now they belong – at least in part – to others. This is a time when sharing actually is caring.
Create space for the significant others who come into your adult kid’s life.
How to Get Along With Adult Kids – Tip #22
There are those of you out there who are a little anxious. You know who you are.
Don’t bug or annoy your adult kids about marriage and them having kids. Just let that evolve on its own time.
Never say that you “need” a grandchild. This is not about you
How to Get Along With Adult Kids – Tip #23
If your kids are living with you and they’re adults, make them pay you rent to cover their room, board, and incidentals. Treat them like adults and they will become adults.
How to Get Along With Adult Kids – Tip #24
Never just drop in to visit your adult kid at their home. Ask their permission first. They’re adults with real adult lives and real
adult priorities. Life ain’t an Everybody Loves Raymond episode where the front door is always unlocked. Show your adult child some respect.
How to Get Along With Adult Kids – Tip #25
If your adult child is living with you, set a time for them to get up out of your house and live on their own.
By the way: It is NOT more difficult now for them than it was when you were a young adult. That’s a fallacy promoted by the soft and the softer, the world of safe spaces and trigger words, and those parents who really just can’t let their kids grow up. Your adult kids are not domesticated pets to be kept and fed because they can’t fend for themselves. You owe them this breath of reality. They (and their self-respect) will thank you for it later.
How to Get Along With Adult Kids – Tip #26
Be super professional about any loans you make to your adult kids. They’re not 10 years old anymore. You don’t give allowances. They have to work, get a job and pay you back.
How to Get Along With Adult Kids – Tip #27
Don’t offer advice unless you’re asked. Hopefully your kids will come to you and ask you for advice when they need it because you have followed the instructions I’ve laid out in this article. They will come to realize that you have learned a few things living on this earth, right? Because you have. Yes. You have.
How to Get Along With Adult Kids – Tip #28
Don’t make your adult kid choose between you and their spouse or kids.
That would be ridiculous, right? Plus you’re going to lose.
Also, don’t ever disrespect your adult child’s spouse. Again, you will lose.
How to Get Along With Adult Kids – Tip #29
Don’t critique the parenting of your adult kid or his/her spouse.
If there is a major situation that you think you need to address, speak with your adult child as a peer in a very non-threatening way. Why? Because nobody wants to be told they suck as a parent. Nobody.
How to Get Along With Adult Kids – Tip #30
Always clarify the type of advice your adult child is requesting. When your adult child comes to you for advice, ask them this question:
“Are you looking for my advice, or are you looking for my support in your decision?”
Advice and support are two entirely different things.
Sometimes adult children come to you because they’re trying to decide between three or four different things or they are confused or they need clear direction as they face a difficult situation – and they want your advice and honest opinion so that they can make the most informed decision.
At other times, they just want to know that you support (are okay with) the decision they’ve made. They don’t want you to tell them what to do.
Always clarify because you don’t want to be giving them strong advice when they were just looking for you to say something along the lines of, “Sounds good. I support you.” And you don’t want to be just say,
Yeah, that’s fine,” when they are looking for more structure & direction in your answer.
Make them declare what they want from you.
How to Get Along With Adult Kids – Tip #31
When we were their age, we had thoughts and visions and dreams and goals and friends and fun times. We wanted to see what was out there in the world and we want to jump around and try things. There are probably some things that we wouldn’t do now that we might have done when we were their age.
You may have gotten mad at your parents back when you were a younger adult. Perhaps your parents got mad at you back then.
Keep in mind that your adult child is taking a journey through the years that is not too dissimilar from the journey you took. And you turned out fine. Right? Right?
Remember that you were once their age.
How to Get Along With Adult Kids – Tip #32
Don’t be a fan of your adult child to the point where you love their status more than you love them. Don’t love what they accomplish. Don’t love their possessions.
Love them because they are your kids. That’s enough.
How to Get Along With Adult Kids – Tip #33
Model the behavior that you’d like your adult kids to follow. Here’s the truth, if you model the right things for your adult kids to do, they’ll likely end up doing it just like you… whether they want to or not. When you consistently model the right behavior, you are literally brainwashing them such that they will replicate you as the years go by. Indeed, in Proverbs 22:6, Solomon, the Son of David, King of Israel said that parents should…
“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it”
BTW – Hit the following LINK if you are facing some interesting opportunities or thorny challenges.
Darryl L. Mobley
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