Parenting is a complex and rewarding journey that comes with its own set of challenges. As parents age, they may wonder what kind of parents are not at risk for estrangement from their adult children. While every family and every relationship is unique, certain traits of healthy parent-child relationships can help prevent estrangement from happening.
These include open communication, mutual respect, healthy boundaries, and self-reflection. It’s important to acknowledge that no parent is perfect, and we all make mistakes. What’s important is how we respond to those mistakes and work to improve our relationships with our adult children. This article identifies what kinds of parents are typically at a lower risk for parent-adult-child estrangement.
Effective communication is one of the essential traits of healthy parent-child relationships. When parents engage in open and respectful communication with their adult children, they can better understand their child’s perspective and communicate their thoughts and feelings.
It’s important for parents to actively listen to their children, speak kindly and empathetically, and avoid belittling remarks or criticism.
Parents who support their children’s choices and provide emotional and practical support will likely have positive relationships with them. Support means being there for them during tough times, celebrating their achievements, and respecting their decisions, even if you don’t always agree with them.
Healthy boundaries are essential in maintaining solid parent-child relationships. Parents who respect their child’s independence, avoid over-involvement or control, and allow them to make their own decisions will likely have good relationships. At the same time, parents must set boundaries for themselves and communicate them clearly to their children.
Parents willing to self-reflect on their behaviors and seek help when needed are more likely to have successful relationships with their adult children. Self-reflecting means taking responsibility for mistakes, apologizing when necessary, and being open to feedback and criticism.
It’s important to note that even parents who have exhibited these traits may still experience estrangement from their adult children. However, these characteristics can help reduce the likelihood of it occurring. There is no such thing as “perfect parenting,” and just because mistakes were made does not mean that your parenting warranted estrangement.
While certain behaviors and situations may increase the likelihood of estrangement, ultimately, what warrants estrangement is a personal decision that depends on each family’s circumstances. For some, it may be a significant breach of trust or an ongoing pattern of abusive behavior. For others, it may be a disagreement about a particular issue that is deeply important to them.
Each person’s experience and perspective are valid, and what one person may find unacceptable, another may be able to work through.
Many of my writings address parents’ need to address the concerns of their estranged adult children. Research reports that adult children hope for their parents to take responsibility for their harmful behaviors. Many adult children desire a relationship, but only if their parents have changed.
The is a multitude of reasons and great complexity of variables that participate in the ambiguity and painfulness of the estrangement condition. The breakdown of familial ties is deeply heartbreaking since the support of relatives has the potential to be so nourishing.
But what about parents who were imperfect but did the best they could? Parents who provided emotional and practical support and were still cut off? In fact, some parents qualify as being highly stressful for their adult children and yet their kids still come see them and hold their hands in times of need.
Sadly, some parents have been unjustly accused of behaviors that did not occur. Sometimes, adult children receive therapy, air their hardships and grievances, and blame their parents of offenses. Hearing only one side, the therapist might encourage cutting off so that the adult child experiences less distress.
In some instances, adult children with histories of mental illness, which can include addictions, blame their imperfect parents and decide to cut ties. While it is unwise to generalize, it is reasonable to recognize that not every parent has warranted being harshly treated.
Just as some parents invalidate and refuse to accept their adult child’s version of their pain, some adult children have treated their parents brutally.
As parents, maintaining positive and loving connections with your adult child is what we all hope for. Maintaining these relationships even while they are creating their own families can seem challenging. With open communication, mutual respect, healthy boundaries, and self-reflection, you can help prevent estrangement and maintain a strong relationship with your child for years.
Suppose you are struggling with estrangement or communication issues with your adult child. In that case, it may be helpful to seek the assistance of a therapist or counselor specializing in family relationships. Building healthy relationships takes time and effort, but there is always time to start.
If you are estranged from your adult child, was it your decision or theirs? Have therapists encouraged you or your adult child to cut ties with each other? Have you considered yourself a good parent?