Are You Having Difficult Relationships With Your Adult Children?

As we age we like to keep our independence. We have raised our families, held down responsible jobs, and performed very well in other areas of our lives.

Yet suddenly, as we age, our adult children may no longer believe that we are capable of making the correct decisions. Sometimes we feel our opinions are no longer valued.

Moreover, many of us are given responsibility for raising grand-children, but no say in the manner in which they are being raised.

Family issues grow difficult — just around the time when they should be growing more comfortable and comforting.

What causes conflict?


Role changes

Financial problems

Unresolved parent/child conflicts


It’s a common situation. A holiday or other event brings the family together, and there is a high expectation of joy and good times. That’s just the time when many families go into turmoil. Someone says something that is misinterpreted, and the battle begins.

These family squabbles often lead to years of heartbreak for all concerned.

Make sure before you get angry with your child that you have your facts correct. Ask another family member for their impression of the argument — not to take sides, but to gauge whether your perception is correct. You may avoid years of hurt.

Role Changes

The arrival of grandchildren is usually a joyous occasion, but sometimes adult children expect their parents to be full-time, built-in babysitters, especially when adult children move back home following divorce or financial hardship.

You are a parent, but not to your grandchild. Your child may resent any input you have about raising his/her child or protest if you discipline the grandchildren. This leaves the grandparents with all of the responsibility, but none of the authority.

You may also be asked to parent a grandchild but not wish to take on that role. Your child may view you as a babysitter and not respect that your time is your own.

You will need to set reasonable limits before embarking on this role change, and have your adult children understand and respect those boundaries and limits — even if they do not like them.

Financial Problems

You may be on a fixed income and your adult child comes to you with his hand out. You love your child, but don't want to risk your own security.

Unfortunately, too many parents give in to the demands of their adult children out of a sense of guilt, or an unwarranted sense of obligation. This doesn’t preclude us from helping our children if we choose. But there is a difference between acting by choice and acting out of guilt.

How you reach and communicate your decision can make the difference between a healthy relationship or hurt relationship with your adult child.




© 2006 All rights reserved. |  Last revised by R. Cohen on January 21, 2006