A child needs to internalize a model of someone who has a life of her own. The parent whose life is centered around her children is influencing them to think that life is about either becoming a parent or being forever served by a parent. Let your child know you have interests and relationships that don’t involve her. Take trips without her. Show her that you take active responsibility in meeting your own needs and solving your own problems.
Like so many areas of emotional wellness, what’s considered “healthy” can vary dramatically among cultures, families, and individuals. As always, you should decide what works best for you.
Our series on Boundaries is a great example of this!
Last week, we introduced the topic of healthy boundaries in parenting.
But, what happens when the kids grow up…?
Read on for 5 characteristics of a healthy relationship with your adult children:
1. You and your adult children are financially independent of one another.
Like offering time and energy, financial resources are a common way we provide support to (and receive it from) our children. No doubt, the ability to give a gift and experience its effect is a wonderful feeling. But, when finances between you and your adult children become co-mingled– either in times of need or as a matter of routine– the lines between adults can become blurred. This may result in family tension, unspoken resentments, and limitation of healthy independence.
How healthy are the boundaries around money between my adult children and me? Are there other (non-financial) ways I can offer/receive support?
2. You and your adult children are emotionally resilient.
For many of us, a call to a loved one is a surefire way to calm a uneasy spirit and regain a sense of stable footing. If you find that you’re the primary source of emotional support for your adult child, however, this could signal an opportunity to renegotiate boundaries. Similarly, if you rely on your adult child to provide primary emotional support, it may be worth seeking out additional resources and expanding your support network.
Am I ensuring that my own emotional needs are met? Are my adult children? What resources are we using (outside of one another) to meet our emotional needs?
3. You and your adult children make your own decisions.
From sending a quick text to gauge an opinion on paint colors to an in-person conversation about a major life decision, it’s natural for parents and their adult children to seek each other’s advice. But, if you find that independent decision making is difficult for you (or your adult child), this can signal an unhealthy dependence on one another.
Are my adult children capable of making decisions without checking in with me first? Do I make independent decisions of my own?
4. You and your adult children honor each other’s privacy.
The issue of privacy evolves dramatically as children age and move on, doesn’t it? (After all, how many parents of toddlers would say they enjoy a lot of private time to themselves?) Respecting your child’s right to have a life of their own is a critical component of healthy relationships between parents and adult children, however. This means you might not know everything about how your child spends their day, how they spend their money, and who they’re in relationships with (and vice versa).
How comfortable am I with the idea of not knowing everything about my adult children’s lives? How comfortable would they be with this idea?
5. You and your adult children enjoy each other’s company.
Navigating the process of setting (and maintaining) healthy boundaries with your adult children is difficult work. The benefit? You get to enjoy a new dimension to your relationship– one that is both based in your early years of parenting and in their ever-evolving journey through adulthood. The more practiced you and your adult children become at accepting this new version of your relationship, rather than trying to exert control over it, the more joy you’ll experience together.
How do I feel when I’m with my adult children? Are we relaxed in each other’s company?
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Curious to learn more about what healthy parenting looks like with adult children?