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My adult children came home last night for a family dinner and one of them was very depressed. He was trying to hide it but it was there in his eyes and in his posture.

He is normally so self-assured and confident, however, last night he seemed beaten down. That is one of the hardest things for a parent to see in their children. Not knowing for sure the reason for his state of mind is disconcerting but when that child is an adult and moved out of the home it becomes important that you do not step in and interfere, so what is a parent to do?

Here are some simple solutions that will help to lift them up and create a trusting bond between adult children and parents.

1. Keep telling them how much you love them

Keep doing so in every way possible. If you are an affectionate family, give that extra squeeze when you hug them. Tell them in actual words. Go out of your way to do the little things you know this child loves. If they like words of affirmation, praise them a lot, if they like gifts, buy them something extra little. If their love language is physical touch, ensure you are close by to hold them, hug them or give an extra pat on the back.

2. Show them how proud you are of them

Ensure you not only show them but tell them as well. Offering words of praise for things you see them doing well in their adult lives. All humans love acknowledgment and your adult children are no exception. In fact, they will want to hear it from their parents more than anyone else in their lives if they are feeling down. They might be feeling like a failure because they are not doing what they want or they might be in a relationship that might be tough and/or abusive.

They will need even more encouragement than normal to help them know they are worthy enough to strive for better.

3. Ensure that they know you are aware of their pain

Parents are not mind-readers; however, we do know our children pretty well. Chances are you do know the source of the problem even if you don’t have the details. Let your child know you are aware there is a problem but do not tell them you have a clue what it is. Be vague so they do not feel like you are intruding. Give them the opportunity to come to you and explain if they want to, but don’t push this. When they know you are not judging them and they are aware that you still love them and think they are wonderful human beings regardless of what is going on in their lives, they will probably open up to you. By forcing the issue, you will be stepping on their independence to work this out the way they want to, even if that does mean without asking your advice.

4. If you ask questions, do not ask ones that will cause embarrassment or bring more pain

Any questions you ask should allow them to know you are aware that something is wrong, but do not give it away that you might have an idea of what is wrong. Never ask questions in front of other that might embarrass them. Remember they are now grown adults and have a right to their complete privacy if they want. When you ask questions in private ensure they are loving, supporting questions such as, “you know I love you and would do anything to help you, right?” That lets them know your love and your concern without putting any pressure on them.

Being the type of parent where you let your adult children be adults is difficult. We have a tendency to want to fix their problems for them but this is not wisdom nor is it allowing them to live, learn and grow in what they need to learn. When we see them heading down the wrong path to that unhappiness, give a small word of caution, but do not harp on it.

If we can hold our tongues and wait until they come to talk to us about it, we have a better chance of them listening to what we have to say. Give your child the same chance you had and that is to learn some things in life by their mistakes, but be there to help when they come to you and ask.

Do not force yourself, your opinions or your standards on them.

Do you have any helpful tips to add to this? Please share in the comments below.

  • Similar to what you said Lynda, communication is so important, just let them you know you love and care for them and are always there for them.

    Reply

  • Great article and I agree fully.
    Sometimes it’s very hard to keep your own counsel, but with adult children that’s exactly what you have to do.
    I love the fact that they will ring me and ask if I think what they have decided is right and then we can have a good chat about the pros and cons of their decision and leave it up to them.
    The amazing thing is they grow to be adults very fast – even faster than you can imagine.

    Reply

  • I do agree 100%
    Although I sit in amazement with a 39 year old female who is still very dependent on her Father and acts like she is a 14year old child. At no point has she been financially responsible and is always asking for money and using the emotional blackmail of her children will have no food, etc.
    I strongly believe if you have an adult child like this then you need to bring in some tough love.


    • I do agree with you on that. In my blog I have a few article called the ‘silver platter generation’. If our children are still at home at a late age, usually that is our fault as a parent. Go check out the articles and share with this person if you like. Thanks.

    Reply

  • One of my theories is to give advice when it is asked for. I always state they are suggestions – (not what they have to do) that the final decision is theirs, not mine.


    • That shows your children you respect them, and in do that for them, they will respect you in return and then there is more of a chance they will actually listen to your advice. Good for you mom….

    Reply

  • A well written article. I agree that listening, love, respect, space are such an important elements always.

    Reply

  • This is a nicely written article. Thanks for providing some food for thought.


    • Thank you, a writer always likes to hear this. And I hope it was helpful.

    Reply

  • I don’t have adult children but I’m pleased to say this is how my mum treats me and my brothers and sisters

    Reply

  • Also, show them the respect you’d show any other adult.

    Reply

  • I don’t have an adult child yet, but I will surely keep in mind your precious tips.
    Showing that we are always there for them I think it’s crucial. If they know they can trust us, talking is easier.

    Reply

  • Communication is very important. As you said in the article, parents are not mind readers. Also, it is important to let children know that something that might seem like a huge problem now may not seem so important as time goes by.


    • Very true. We all tend to think our problems are much bigger than they are while we are going through them.

    Reply

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