Be More Involved in Your Adult Child's Life

As parents and children move through life, the dynamic constantly changes. Once children reach adulthood, parents are often unsure of how to remain involved. If you want to be more involved in an adult child’s life, it is important to spend time together and communicate well. That said, you must recognize that your child is now an adult that makes their own decisions and sets their own boundaries.


Spending More Time Together

  1. Do things that you enjoy together. Your adult child has less available time than they had as kids. This may lead them to cut back on visits and get togethers. One way to include more family time is to do things that you always enjoyed doing together. This will incentivize their visits with you.[1]
    • For example, if you and your child always went on scenic hikes, offer to go out on a hiking adventure.
  2. Plan family events. Most adult children are more likely to make time to visit if you create a family event, as opposed to just inviting them over. Invite all of your children (if you have more than one) to come over for a dinner or family gathering. If there are other relatives (e.g. grandparent, aunts, uncles, cousins) that your child is close to, invite them as well.[1]
    • For example, you could plan a family dinner once a week. If that’s too much, aim for once a month.
  3. Try new experiences. Your grown child may have different preferences than they did as a teen. If they have taken on new hobbies or activities, show interest in them and be supportive. If you can, try to do these activities with them sometimes.[1]
    • For example, if your adult child has started learning to play a musical instrument, ask them to show you how it works.

Communicating Effectively

  1. Open as many channels as possible. Research shows that the more channels through which a child can communicate with a parent, the more satisfied the child is with the relationship. They are also more likely to reach out and respond if a parent has multiple ways to contact them. In addition to face to face time and phone calls, try texting and instant messaging your adult child.[2]
    • If you need help learning new technology so that you can stay in touch with your adult child, just ask them. Most of the time, they will be happy to help you learn it ― even if they do poke fun at you for it.
  2. Give only welcomed advice. As a parent, you used to make every decision for your child. Now that they are an adult, they make decisions for themselves. Avoid the urge to badger them or tell them that they should do something else. Only give advice that is sought or welcomed to avoid conflict.[1]
    • For example, if your adult child has kids of their own, avoid telling them how to parent their children. This is a highly personal issue, and they may not agree with your point of view. On the other hand, if they ask your advice, give it freely (but respectfully).
  3. Listen to your child. When your child tries to communicate with you, you should listen carefully. This will show your child that you are interested in their feelings and activities, and that you respect them as an adult. Listening is an important way to foster the relationship with your adult child.[3]
    • For example, if your grown child is in college and has decided to change their major, hear them out before jumping to conclusions about wasted time and money.
  4. Talk in person. Research shows that parents who spend face to face time with their adult children have a happier relationship with them. This also leads to more involvement in their life. When possible, spend face to face time with your adult child.[4]
    • For example, you could grab a coffee together before work.
  5. Work to repair your relationship. If your relationship with an adult child has taken a serious hit in the past, you will need to be patient and work to restore it. Give them the space that they need to work through the past, but offer consistent support. Reach out to them often with gentle reminders that you still care and want to have a relationship with them.
    • For example, you could simply call them once a week at the same time to talk. If they don’t answer, try again next week.

Respecting Your Child’s Autonomy

  1. Respect their boundaries. Adult children need boundaries so that they can be themselves and grow. You may only see them once a week, or in some cases less. There may even be some topics (e.g. romantic relationships or raising their own children) that are off limits. Respect these boundaries if you want to be more involved in your adult child’s life.[1]
  2. Accept their significant other(s). Your adult child may not date or marry the person that you want them to. This is a fact that you have to accept as a parent. You also have to make room for the person that they do love, and respect the fact that they will often put that person first. Never give an ultimatum or make it a competition between a significant other and yourself.[1]
  3. Be supportive. Your adult children still need your support sometimes. Whether they are in a financial hard spot, or they need someone to reassure them that they are good at something, you are still their parent. Offer them love and support whenever they need it.[5]
    • Do not allow yourself to be abused by an adult child for monetary reasons.
  4. Tactfully offer help. Sometimes, adult children are unwilling to ask for help when they need it. Whether they are in financial trouble or just need someone to babysit for a night, you can find creative ways to offer your help without hurting their pride. However, don’t be offended if they turn down your offer.
    • For example, if your child won’t accept money when they are in a financial bind, maybe you can ease the burden by taking your grandkids out to buy school clothes.

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