5 Ways to Alienate Your Adult Children

While parents don’t stop loving their children once the kids leave the nest, they face a new dynamic: the children are now adults.  They do not require notes to mom and dad, permission slips, or parental consent. This can lead to a new and loving relationship, or a power struggle that deteriorates the relationship. Think about what you’re doing before you engage of any of these behaviors:

1) Give unsolicited negative feedback:  Assuming your child’s vocal cords are functional, he knows how to ask for your opinion.  Therefore, if he hasn’t asked, you may safely assume he doesn’t want to hear it. If you don’t like his new job, apartment or girlfriend, it is not your place to eliminate it from his life. Don't campaign against it.

2) Ask questions to which you don’t really want to know the answer: Let’s say you don’t like your son’s girlfriend: you pray nightly to every spiritual Deity you can think of for them to end their relationship.  It’s understandable that you want to ask him if he’s still seeing her every time you talk to him, hoping your prayers have been answered.  But what if they haven’t broken up? Can you handle the truth without committing item number one (see above)? Don’t ask questions you might not like the answer to if you’re already feeling tired or grumpy - it's too tempting to react in a way that later, you'll wish you hadn't.

3) Go through you child’s things:  The debate among parents of adolescents and teenagers rages: should you read your child’s journal or go through his belongings?  But once your child is an adult, there is no longer a debate. Don’t go through your child’s private things unless you want instant resentment.

4) Parent your grandchildren without your child’s consent: while it is unfortunate that many grandparents are caring for their grandchildren to a greater degree than they imagined, most parents are actually parenting. When you see your grandchildren, remember that you are not mom or dad. Enforce the rules in your home when your grandkids are visiting, but when you're in your adult child’s home, the parenting stays with the parents. If your child doesn’t make your grandson clean his plate, trying to do it yourself is a good way not to invited over very often.

5) Dwell only on what you feel is negative:  While every parent wishes something in his adult child’s life was different, if your child is a productive and law-abiding citizen, focus on the positive things your child is doing.  Many people have adult children who are incarcerated, mentally ill, addicted to drugs or alcohol, have taken off to parts unknown, or dead. Be grateful for the child you have - it’s a great way to go through life!