• Wednesday, May 29, 2024
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BusinessDay

5 phrases parents want to hear from their adult children

Work, family life, and current economic situation (I)

When kids become adults, the nature of their bond with their parents evolves, often becoming more reciprocal with time. No longer is the parent just supporting the child; now the child might also support their parent, in both practical and emotional ways.

In order for this new relationship to thrive, open communication and mutual respect and understanding are necessary. And while some parent-adult child relationships flourish in this new era, others may struggle to navigate the new terrain due to unresolved conflict, a lack of boundaries, poor communication or wounds from the past.

But with care, thoughtfulness and effort from both parties, it’s usually possible to improve the health of this crucial relationship.

Recently, we asked therapists to share the phrases adult children are desperate to hear from their parents. This time around, we asked them what parents with grown children most want to hear from their kids.

Of course, we’re not suggesting that all adult children need to say all of these things to their parents. Every relationship dynamic is different. Consider the phrases that might make sense and feel genuine for you and disregard those that don’t.

Read also: Children become what their parents are

Here’s what the therapists said:

1. “Tell me what’s new in your life.”

 

This simple conversation-starter may seem like no big deal on its face, but it actually means a lot to parents. They want to know their adult kids are interested in how they’re doing and what’s happening in their lives, said Dallas marriage and family therapist Sarah Epstein.

“They want to be able to share with their children new interests and friendships,” she told HuffPost. “When adult children check in with their parents about their interests, they are acknowledging their parents’ personhood and identities outside of parenthood. Like other types of friendship, those between adult children and parents require mutual interest in one another’s lives.”

2. “Thank you. It mattered.”

 

Raising children well is incredibly rewarding, but it can also be an incredibly difficult job. Having your grown kids recognise those efforts can be so gratifying, even years or decades down the line.

“If the adult child values the way their parents raised them and the choices they made, expressing that gratitude means a lot,” Epstein said. “It is an acknowledgement of their hard work and love. And telling parents that their efforts mattered is an extra acknowledgement of the impact of good parenting.”

Lara Morales Daitter, an associate marriage and family therapist at The Connective in Northern California, told HuffPost that saying something like, “Thank you for the life you gave me. I accept it just as it was, with the good and the difficult,” can be powerful, too.

“This phrase embodies a deep acknowledgment of the gift of life bestowed by parents. It goes beyond mere gratitude for material support or upbringing; it touches upon the existential bond between parent and child,” while also “expressing acceptance of life’s challenges,” she said.

3. “Your guidance helped me find my way.”

 

“It’s a powerful moment for parents to realise that their guidance has helped their child become independent and fulfilled,” Daitter Morales said.

Seeing their children successfully navigate life’s ups and downs “gives parents a sense of purpose and confirms that the values they taught in childhood guide their adult children’s decisions,” she added.

4. “What would you do in my situation?”

 

It can be jarring for parents to transition from their kids’ life manager when they’re young to a consultant once they reach adulthood, said Epstein.

“They may lose a say in major decisions in favour of their child’s independent preferences and values,” she continued.

When the adult child is open to advice, asking mom or dad to weigh in can make the parent feel important and included in this stage of their life.

“Still, parents like to feel valued for the wisdom they can offer,” Epstein said. “For adult children who have a healthy relationship with their parents, asking their opinion offers the dual benefit of getting trusted advice and making that parent feel loved and valued.”

5. “I’m happy and content with my life today.”

 

This statement captures any parent’s “ultimate aspiration,” said Morales Daitter said. To see a child leave the nest and build a happy and fulfilling life of their own fills parents with satisfaction and pride in the job they’ve done.

“It brings a deep sense of joy and validation to parents, knowing that their support and sacrifices have contributed to their child’s well-being and happiness,” Daiter Morales said.

“When adult children express contentment with their lives, it reassures parents that their efforts in raising and supporting them have paid off,” she said.