Improving Relationships With Adult Children

Improving Relationships With Adult Children

Life is complicated. You knew that, right.

Today I went into a store to pay a bill and for some reason the lady started telling me about her dad and how she couldn’t decide whether or not to travel to another state to go see him this Christmas. It seemed to really be bothering her so I asked if he could come see her and be with her family.

The next thirty minutes or so she explained how after he and her mom divorced he remarried and had three children with her. Her mother also remarried and she was raised by a step-father that she was extremely close to. This lady was probably in her late 30s and she confessed to me that since she was a very young girl she had never spent a Christmas with her dad. She wanted to go see him but there were so many emotions and people involved that she was confused and didn’t know what to do.

She looked at me through tears and said, “Why am I telling you all this?”

I thought for a moment and said, “Because it’s a few days before Christmas and Christmas makes our emotions raw. I can’t tell you what to do about your dad but I will tell you this. I lost my mom in 1990 and my dad in 1995 and I would give anything for another Christmas with them.”

She cried more. We hugged and I left.

I don’t know if I helped her or not but obviously she needed someone to listen. I guess God shoved me into her office because he knew I understand about how short life is and how we had better tell the people we love that we love them right now…today, because we aren’t guaranteed tomorrow.

Just this morning two of my friends mothers passed away. Both had been sick and in the nursing home for a long period of time but goodbye still hurts and at Christmas, I think it hurts even worse.

Like I said, Life is Complicated

Many grandmothers write to me and ask about how to improve relationships with adult children. And obviously the lady I spoke to this morning wanted to have a better relationship with her father but wasn’t sure how to go about it.

I think most parents and adult children want to have good relationships but then something happens and someone gets mad, feelings get hurt, or maybe there is divorce and remarriage, more children and that can complicate things. People are more mobile these days and families may not live close together. Distance can make it harder to be close. And even parents and adults who live close to each other don’t always make time for each other. Jobs and children’s school functions can keep parents so busy they don’t take time to visit their own parents.

improving relationships

So how do we have good, solid relationships with our grown children?

Because this is such an important topic I asked other grandmothers to share their advice on my NanaHood Facebook page and I was so honored that I received so many great tips. Hopefully some of these will help.

Suggestions from Grandmothers

  1. Make sure your grandchild knows you love and respect their parents.

“I praise my son and daughter in law while talking to my granddaughter (Age 3). I refer to my DIL as her “pretty mommy”. When I hear my granddaughter getting sassy with her mommy, I tell her it makes me sad when she talks to my friend that way. I think showing love and respect to the child’s parents in their presence helps our grown children know we honor their position,” says Grandmother Joy.  

    2. Relationships with a daughter-in-law can be harder than with your daughter.
I’m so happy this isn’t true in my case. My daughter-in-law and I are very close, but I know from listening to other grandmothers that it can be very hard.
Grandmother Laurie said, “I think it all depends on whether you have a daughter or son. It is tougher I feel with my daughter in law than with my daughter. I can tell my daughter exactly how I feel;however I can’t do this with my daughter in law.. To be honest I fear sometimes if I were to voice my opinion honestly with my daughter in law I am fearful she would keep my grand daughter from me. It’s definitely a hard balancing act. I bite my tongue a lot and pray. I invite them over all the time and make my home warm and inviting to them. They know they are welcome here whenever they want to come.”
       3. Ask yourself why the relationship needs improving, suggest Grandmother Edie.

” Try to be objective. Ask a close friend to be honest with you and give you their opinion. (Make sure you are ready to hear & accept what they have to say. )”

I think this is very good advice if the friend knows you and your son or daughter very well. If they only know your side of things they may not be able to help as much.

       4. Know all the facts before making a comment and don’t give advice unless asked.
I always make sure I know both sides of opinions and I do not give out advice unless I am asked, the way you say things can make a huge difference. Instead of saying “ this is how it should be done” try “ this is the way I used to do it”. Don’t hold on to hurt feeling or grudges, talk about it when it happens not 6 months later when a mole hill becomes a mountain. You won’t always agree but you should always respect,” says Linda.
My Ten Cents Worth…
My grandmother always advised all of us to never go to bed mad at someone. She was right. Resolve problems as fast as you can and forgive and forget squabbles. Life is so short and we never know what tomorrow holds. If you love someone, forgive them. We are all human and make mistakes. If we want forgiveness, we have to give it.

Grandmother Elaine advises, “Be very patient and forgiving, always ask them if they have had a good day and have a listening ear, always try to make up very quickly after a spat and don’t let things fester. All you can do is your best.”

improving relationships

6. If your children are parents they are adults and should be treated as such.

I think that the first thing that we as the parent have to acknowledge, is that our “babies” (aka our adult children) now have “babies” of their own, and therefore will not tolerate us treating them as “our babies” . They have earned the right to raise their children “As they Wish” to do. Not us as Grandparents, as so it should be . Now..having saying this, to me here lies the problem, Todays society dictates how families are raised and that includes social media, no phone calls, no visits, no interaction with the adult child. (I know, I have some) AND if you want to see the adult child and the grandchild it is on your shoulders to make the arrangements so you can enjoy their company. Offer No advice, unless asked for. Never say ..”Well, I would Never have done That” unless you want further alienation. So ..bottom line is ..IF you want a relationship with your children and grandchildren you should put your OLD game of Monopoly in the closet, and buy the newest Xbox 360 and update our playing skills. But NEVER forsake the ways of our past, as parents, and call them often, and just listen..don’t call, to condemn or judge, for they will ALWAYS BE Our “Babies”, and our grandchildren are the bonus of our children’s love.” Grandmother Theresa

 7. Cover them in prayers.
    “It takes a lot of give and take covered with prayers,” says Grandmother Lynn.
My Ten Cents Worth
My prayer life intensified as my children grew. When they were teenagers and began driving and being exposed to life out in the real world I realized that I could no longer protect them from certain things, but I knew who could and I prayed daily. Now my prayer life has grown to include my grandchildren and my day begins and ends with prayer for each child (even though they are grown) and each grandchild. I agree with Lynn, keeping them covered in prayer is a good thing.
I know without a doubt that I am who I am today because of the grace of God and my mother’s and grandmother’s prayers. God can do what we can not, but I always pray that His will be done because he sees the big picture and I see only my tiny vision of the world.
 8. Be swift to praise and slow to criticize.
“Being a parent is the hardest job I ever had. I made my share of mistakes, all parents do. I want to be an encourager to my children and grandchildren…not a discourager.” Nana Teresa
Perhaps you have other suggestions we haven’t thought of. If so, please share them in the comment section. I really want to know what you think!



1 Comment

  1. This is an excellent collection of thoughts usable for everyone, even those of us with good relationships with all the adult children and their spouses. To your list I would add this simple summary: Be a solution to problems instead of an initiator of them. Be the one who graciously changes the date of a holiday dinner instead of the one who whines and wails that “they always go to her/his side of the family!” Gee, I wonder why? 🙂