Broken relationships between parents and their grown children are sadly, very common. Whether motives are misunderstood, actions are taken out of context or serious emotional injury was inflicted, it’s a painful situation for everyone involved. While you may not be entirely to blame for the conflict, initiating reconciliation may be up to you. Here are some points to keep in mind as you seek to reconnect.
Remember you are dealing with an adult. While you may feel that just yesterday they were children, they are mature adults and should be treated with the respect they deserve. Anything less will be undermining any efforts you make.
Acknowledge your contribution. There are two sides to every story. What may have seemed loving to you may have been hurtful to your child. Try to put yourself in their place and understand how it felt to them. Admit your own mistakes and apologize for your part of the conflict.
Approach the situation with love. It is difficult to face the fact that you have been wrong. This can leave you angry and with wounded pride. Deal with these emotions on your own prior to confronting your child. By acting out of love instead of anger, you will stand a better chance of having honest communication.
Be fair. A common piece of advice in marriage is “Do you want to be right or be married?”. This applies with your children as well. Would you rather be right or have a relationship? This doesn’t mean you accept all blame and overlook their wrongdoings. There is a time and a place for telling your child where they have hurt you. But criticizing everything you see wrong with them and the relationship is only going to hurt the them further and drive them farther away. Be fair in your assessment of them and only point out the issues currently at hand. Seek to repair the relationship and not fix your child.
Get support. By reaching out to a friend or therapist, you can gain a neutral perspective. This will help you be more objective and thus able to think more clearly and be more empathetic to your child. This ability will go a long way in connecting with your son or daughter.
If your child initially rejects your effort, don’t write them off. Let them know that you love them and are there for them when they’re ready. This is just as painful for them as it is for you and chances are, they will want to reconcile as well. Navigating relationships with adult children can be tricky and letting go of the relationship patterns that worked when they were children is hard but the reward of being friends with your now adult children is more than worth it.