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Just this afternoon, I was talking with one of our adult sons about his little boy and the challenges of parenting a toddler. I told him it seemed like just the other day that he was that size. The years pass so quickly, don’t they?
We have five adult children and only three left at home. That’s not something to be sad about, though — our adult kids are our best friends!
It’s been amazing to see our relationships transform as they’ve grown up.
To connect with your adult kids, though, your relationship has got to undergo that transformation. You can’t treat a twenty-something like a twelve-year-old and expect to have a good relationship with them.
Here are some practical things we’ve learned along the way that are simple but really powerful.
7 Practical Ways To Connect With Your Adult Child
1. Listen to what they care about.
Nearly every time parents tell us they are struggling with a teen or adult child, they say, “He won’t talk to us, but he says we never listen to him!”
Actually, those two things are connected!
When you listen to whatever they want to share, no matter how boring or how irrelevant to what you want to hear, you are telling them, “I care about you as a person. You’re not just a project to me. I want to hear what is important to you.”
If you want your son or daughter to listen to you, listen to them. That’s a great practical way to connect with your adult child!
2. Communicate in whatever way they are comfortable.
It’s natural for our generation to pick up the phone, but it most definitely isn’t natural to theirs. Try different communication methods until you find one they respond to easily – text, social media messages, whatever.
If you’re using a medium they like to use, “talking” will be easier.
3. Facilitate whole family communication.
Many years ago, while we had students in different colleges and Dad working overseas, we started a group chat on Skype. We’ve kept it going over a decade now!
We also have a secret Facebook group that’s just for family members. It’s been great fun to have a way to share little things and big ones, from prayer requests to silly videos, or even just talk about what’s going on in each of our lives. It’s really helped keep us all connected.
You can do the same with group messaging, email, or other media.
4. Respect their adulthood.
“You’ll always be my child,” of course, but they need us to recognize they’re grown up now.
A friend recently said she was unsure whether to allow her early-twenties son to get his own apartment because they wouldn’t have as much control over him.
When we take that attitude, though, our adult kids may have to stand up to us to even do normal adult things.
Instead, we can respond to something like this with, “Well, son, you’re an adult, of course, so you can do whatever you think is best. Do you want me to help you think it through?”
He’ll be much more likely to take your advice when it doesn’t feel like you’re trying to control him.
5. To Connect With Your Adult Child, Let Them Be Themselves.
Boy, this one is hard.
Our kids are going to do a few things differently than we did–just like we did some things differently than our parents! For the sake of the relationship, we need to be okay with them making their own decisions.
If they’re in actual sin or heading that way, we call them to repentance just like we do our friends. If not, though, we shouldn’t let secondary matters cause a breach between us, no matter how strongly we feel about those things. The Holy Spirit can lead them just like He’s lead us.
6. Respond when they reach out.
This is a very real way to show them how much we value them.
When they walk by and mutter something, respond. When they send a text or start a conversation, keep it going, even if you don’t care about the topic.
Your responses tell them they matter, really matter, to you.
7. Enjoy them like friends!
Can you imagine a group of friends who share all the precious memories of your kids growing up, who have read all your favorite books, who share your values and understand your heart?
Your adult kids can be those friends, but you have to let them grow up and allow your relationship to become an adult interaction. It’s worth every effort. It’s been an incredible blessing and pleasure to us!
As you can see, there are practical ways to connect with your adult child! For more on building relationship and discipling your kids of all ages, listen to our podcast, subscribe to our YouTube channel, read our blog, connect with us on Facebook or Instagram.
Hal & Melanie
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Hal & Melanie Young are the award-winning, best-selling authors of Raising Real Men, No Longer Little and Love, Honor, and Virtue. They are publishers, writers, bloggers, and popular conference speakers internationally, known for their Christ-centered focus and practical, real-life stories. They are the parents of six real boys (four grown!) and two real girls and live in noisy, messy happiness in North Carolina.