As a mother of eight (26, 25, 23, 21, 18, 16, 14, 11), I’ve learned–sometimes the hard way–that as my children get older, our relationship must change. I recently came across this helpful list of pointers in Laurie Bluedorn’s “Homeschooling with the Trivium” newsletter, and thought the list could be a blessing to many. With her permission, I’m reprinting it here for you.
At the end, Laurie asks what else needs to be mentioned; I would add it is important to always insist on respect. We can disagree, we can debate, we can endlessly discuss, but it all must be done respectfully. It is also imperative to keep a sense of humor when interacting with our young adult/adult children. We must not take ourselves too seriously. A little humor, and the ability to laugh at both our own and our children’s foibles, goes a long way to reducing tensions and building great relationships. – Anne
How to treat your adult children:
1. The majority of the time that you are talking with your adult child, you should be doing the listening, not the talking. Real and attentive listening. Respectful listening–not appearing to be listening or thinking about what you need to be doing next or what you want to say next, but real listening.
2. Talk to your adult children in the same way which you would talk to any of your peers. Your body language, tone of voice, facial expressions, language, and level of respect should be the same as what you use with your peers.
3. There must be trust. The members of a family must trust each other. Without mutual trust there can be no family peace, order, fellowship, respect, or communion.
4. Address the concerns of your adult children in a timely manner. Don’t continue to put off resolving issues or acting on matters, but have enough respect for your adult children to move forward, making decisions promptly on issues which are important to them. Don’t be eternally saying, “Well, I’m praying about it.”
5. Avoid exaggeration–it undermines trust and respect. Exaggeration is a learned behavior and your children will most certainly adopt the behavior if they see it in you.
6. If children are exposed to a steady stream of negativity and criticism, leveled against them or against others, it will undermine their trust and confidence in you, and it will interfere with their ability to respect you. When the parent is negative and critical, his intended result is that the child will become more discerning and careful. But in actuality, the effect of steady negativity and criticism is usually the opposite–it serves to pull down and inhibit growth, and causes the child to not take the parent seriously.
7. It is most likely that at some time in his life and in some area of his life, your adult child will disagree with your views on different issues, be it politics, nutrition, music, dress, or (gasp!!) theology. Have enough respect for your adult child to discuss these differences in the same way that you discuss differences with your peers.
What else needs to be mentioned? Laurie