As children grow up and move out of the nest, it can often be perplexing for a parent to maintain a close relationship and strong bond with their adult child and avoid possible estrangement.
The changing dynamics of the relationship often require forging new ways of relating and communicating.
From finding new activities to participate in together to make a point to call your adult child regularly, here are tips from relationship experts across the country for maintaining a relationship with grown children.
Invite Them Over or Take Them Out for a Meal
For most families, meals are the sacred time for bonding, says psychologist and life coach Ana Jovanovic of Parenting Pod. “There’s no reason this tradition shouldn’t continue once your child moves out of the house, gets married, or has their own kids,” Jovanovic said.
“Whether it’s proposing to cook a Sunday meal, inviting them over for a dinner after work here and there, or meeting downtown for coffee and cheesecake, having a conversation over some good food is in most cases, a great way to bond.”
Make an Effort to Connect With Their Loved Ones
In order to be able to stay in touch with your adult children, it’s important that you get along well with their partners, says Jovanovic of Parenting Pod. “Invest time in getting to know them and bonding with them. Try to find shared interests, or topics that inspire you both.
Knowing that their partner likes spending time with you, it will be easier to schedule the time to spend with a whole family.” And whenever you invite your child over, let them know that their partner is welcome, too.
Share Your Favorite Memories with Them
Now that they’re adults, hearing about your memories from childhood, college or the times when they were too young to remember anything will be far more interesting to them than in the past, Jovanovic says.
“Allow them to get to know who you were before,” Jovanovic explained. “This is likely to help them see a whole new side of you, which may give rise to new ideas on how to bond.”
Sign Up for a Course or Workshop Together
Learning a new skill or a new language, or going to a meditative retreat together can help both parent and adult child share and learn about each other in an entirely new way.
“Parents usually have the role of a mentor or a teacher. But in this case, you both have an opportunity to start learning something from level zero, helping each other get better,” Jovanovic said.
Consult Them on Decisions You Make
Even if you can’t help but see a 3-year-old in your 30-year-old child, it’s important to find a way to acknowledge that they are now an adult.
What’s more, they’re an adult who has certain skills and experience that can be quite helpful to you in times when you’re struggling with a decision, Jovanovic says.
“Reversing the roles and asking your child for advice can be a step forward in your relationship,” Jovanovic noted.
Create Something Together
A DIY project with your child, a new garden, or a home decoration can be a great creative outlet and a bonding experience.
“Taking an afternoon or a day off to enjoy creating something together, working as a team, can help improve communication and understanding,” Jovanovic said. “Also, it gives you something cool to brag about on social media.”