7 Ways to Heal Your Relationship with Your Adult Children

7 Ways to Heal Your Relationship with Your Adult Children

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Mary’s daughter, Anna, is married with two young kids. For five years, mother and daughter were estranged. Anna welcomed her mom’s offer to help because she wanted her to be a part of her kids’ lives. But Anna soon found her mom’s constant criticism about how she runs her home and cares for her kids overwhelming. It seemed Anna couldn’t do anything right. She tried talking with Mary about the impact of her unsolicited advice and critical words, but the talk went nowhere. In frustration, she decided to distance herself from Mary.

Both mother and daughter were hurting. Mary couldn’t understand what was going on. After all, she loves Anna and feels she tried to help her daughter and grandkids as much as possible.

How’s your relationship with your adult children? Is your relationship with them near the danger zone? Perhaps like Mary you still see your son or daughter as your baby and struggle to accept that your child is now an adult. Or maybe your relationship is filled with conflict and disagreements.

Regardless of the source of conflict, there is hope. Healing and restoration are possible. I’d like to share with you 7 principles from Colossians 3:12-16 that can help heal your broken relationship with your adult son or daughter.

Therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and dearly loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a grievance against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you are also to forgive.  Above all, put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. And let the peace of Christ, to which you were also called in one body, rule your hearts. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell richly among you. Colossians 3:12-16

A Recipe for Healing Your Relationship with Your Adult-children

Heal Your parent-adult child relationship
  1. Be grounded in your identity in Christ.

It’s easy to believe that being a parent is our identity. This can make it difficult to transition and shift our mindset as our children become adults. How do you see yourself? How you see yourself influences how you relate with others. Seeing yourself as a child of God who is set apart, dearly loved, and chosen (Colossians 3:12), will make it easier for you to shift when your role changes.    

You are a child of God first before your roles and what you do. Suppose you only define yourself as a mom. In that case, you may struggle with accepting their independence when your child becomes an adult. This could lead to conflict and estrangement. Grounding yourself in who you are in Christ will help you give unconditional love, acceptance, and understanding to your adult children.

  1. Love your adult children as they are not who you wish them to be.

Do you love your child as they are, or do you wish for them to be the perfect picture in your mind (-i.e., your idealized version of them)? Think back to when you were a teenager or in your early twenties. What was it like? What do you wish you got from the adults around you back then? If I may guess, love, acceptance, and understanding.

One person once told me I can see that I need to parent the child I have, not the one I wish I had. Your adult child is also trying to figure out who they are in this new season of their life. They will mess up and may not always get things right or do it the way you’d like. Giving them room to make mistakes, learn, and grow is okay.

I’m sure your son or daughter will appreciate your compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience (Colossians 3:13) as they navigate their life transitions. Because you are secure in your identity in Christ, you can allow that to guide your relationship with your adult children.

You and I can learn much from the prodigal son’s father in Luke 15. The father showed his son compassion, patience, kindness, and forgiveness. He allowed his son the freedom to choose, make mistakes, and learn from them. He was secure in his own identity such that when his son asked for his inheritance, he didn’t hesitate to give him.    

How have you experienced God’s mercy? How can you extend the same to your adult children?

  1. Forgive-No one is perfect

How can you contribute to the well-being of your relationship with your adult children? By bearing with one another and forgiving one another (Colossians 3:13). Anna wasn’t a perfect mom, but she was trying her best. Still, Mary made it difficult for her by being overly critical. In Mary’s mind, Anna was still her baby, so she saw her through that lens and thought she was trying to help her daughter do better. Through coaching, Mary became aware of her part in the conflict and reconciled with her daughter. Mother and daughter have extended forgiveness to each other and now enjoy a restored relationship.

I don’t know about you, but I screw up every day. I am thankful that God forgives me daily. By his grace, he helps me learn and grow through my shortcomings.

See your adult children for who they are and extend acceptance and grace. As a parent, listen to them and give them the gift of understanding. You can love them and still set boundaries on unhelpful behaviors. You can take the high road because you are not in this to win the fight but to restore your relationship.

  1. Walk in love

Above all, put on love which is the perfect bond of unity (Colossians 3:14). Love is the glue that holds relationships together. I admit it can be hard to love folks who are different from us or difficult, but with God’s help, we can learn to see them through God’s eyes of grace. We can extend unconditional love.

A simple prayer I pray often is, Lord, help me love them with your love. What does it look like to love an adult child who has distanced themselves from you? Respect their boundaries but reach out without being pushy. You may consider sending them an email, text, or note by mail without any agenda other than to connect. Always affirm your love for them.

It’s also humbling to think that you and I may be someone’s “difficult to love person.” Let’s ask God to help us love our adult children well.

  1. Live in Freedom and Peace

And let the peace of Christ, to which you were also called in one body, rule your hearts (Colossians 3:15).

Peace is not the absence of conflict but the presence of Christ. If we want to be free in our relationships with our adult children, we must make room for the peace of Christ.

What is in your control in the conflict between you and your adult child? You can control your response to unhelpful behaviors, set appropriate boundaries, let go of judgment, and speak the truth in love. Most importantly, you and I can partner with God in prayer to soften our hearts and heal our relationships.

  1. And be thankful. 

Gratitude is an essential balm for transforming and healing your relationship. Instead of focusing on all that’s not going well, look for something to be thankful for (Colossians 3:15). Whatever you focus on, we magnify.

Acknowledge your adult child’s efforts at reconciliation and express appreciation. What’s one thing you are thankful for in your adult child’s life?  

  1.  Let the word of Christ dwell richly among you

Allowing our souls to marinade on God’s word will give us the essential ingredients we need to cultivate our relationships with our adult children.

In what areas are you challenged in your relationship with your son or daughter? Find scripture verses that pertain to that area and meditate on them. Invite the Holy Spirit to help you.

As our children become adults, you and I are called to partner behind the scenes with the Lord. Yours is to love them well; God’s job is to soften their hearts to follow him. So, stand on the word, petition on their behalf in prayer, and trust God with the outcome.

By practicing these 7 steps consistently, we’ll see God at work and healing and restoration in our parent-adult child relationships. Be patient and trust God with the outcome.

Share one tip in the comments that you’ve found helpful in parenting your adult children.

Prayer

Lord, thank you for the blessings of being a parent and the gift of children. As parents, help us to love our children with your love and see them through your eyes of grace and love. We acknowledge the challenges in our relationships and invite you to help us dwell in unity and love. Where there are misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and unmet expectations we ask for your help. Untangle the cords of conflict and improve our communications. Restore and heal our relationships. We pray with thanksgiving, in Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Wondering how to let go of your anger at God so you can live a rich and satisfying life? Book a FREE Discovery Call today to discuss how I can help you.

You may watch How to heal your relationship with your adult children on YouTube.

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