What to Do When Your Adult Children Don’t Like You by Linda Bernstein

Angry mother and daughter

Psychologist Joshua Coleman, Ph.D., the author of When Parents Hurt and co-chair of the Council on Contemporary Families, observes that it’s common for boomers to be anxious about relationships with their grown children.

Often our offspring suddenly appear distant or not eager for our company, he says. We feel slighted; we consult therapists and counselors and discuss our state of mind on social media sites.

Our concerns, however, can be a tempest in a teapot. Parents may be making a big deal over what’s really a normal developmental stage. “Sometimes a kid is just sending the message, ‘I do like you, but I don’t want to be attached like glue,’” Coleman says. “A parent shouldn’t interpret that as a sign of enmity.”

Kathy McCoy, Ph.D., author of Making Peace With Your Adult Children, agrees. Perceived indifference is usually just an adult child’s act of independence. “Young adults may be caught up in their own lives and not in touch as much as a parent may wish,” she says.

7 Tips for Staying Close

So how can parents manage to stay close to grown children who need space? And how do we avoid the unnecessary heartache that comes from misinterpreting their vibes? McCoy and Coleman offer seven practical tips:

1. Don’t expect your child to be your confidant. While your friends may be all ears for a graphic description of your latest mammogram or blow-by-blow recount of a fight with your boss, your children will probably not be as riveted.

Coleman says they don’t want to hear about such personal things — but not because they’re self-centered. “A parent/child relationship is pretty intense,” she says, “and as they get older, the natural tendency is to want to separate and gain some distance.”

2. Don’t assume your child always wants to chat or text. Response time almost always gets longer as kids get older, experts agree. Cissy Blank says that when her son, Jason, lived at home, he returned calls and messages quickly. But that changed when he went away to college. So she tacked a copy of his schedule to the fridge and was careful never to call during class, trying to be considerate. Yet sometimes it still took Jason days to get back to her.

“When he came home one weekend, he told me he had a lot going on and that we should assume he was okay unless we heard otherwise. It hurt,” Cissy says, “but it was true.”

“Not texting daily doesn’t mean your kids don’t like you,” McCoy says. “What’s happening to them is much more pressing and vivid than what’s going on with their parents.”

Read more at http://www.nextavenue.org/article/2013-11/what-do-when-your-adult-children-don%E2%80%99t-you



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