The parent-child relationship doesn’t end when children turn 18. In fact, you might be aware that it often becomes much more complicated. Sons and daughters frequently struggle with parents and in-laws who still tell them what to do well into their thirties and forties, who interfere in their marriages, who criticize their parenting. It can feel demeaning, frustrating, and downright infuriating – and it certainly impacts negatively on the parent-child relationship. And of course, in marital situations, the negative stereotype of the difficult mother-in-law is all too real for many couples.
On the other side, parents often worry about their adult children becoming increasingly distant, keeping them out of their lives, or seemingly losing interest in the relationship altogether. What could be more painful than being blocked out of the life of the child you gave birth to and raised from day one? What could be harder than being replaced by your child’s spouse as the most significant person is his or her life?
The truth is that more often than not, both sides are deeply interested in having a solid relationship, but feel like an unbridgeable gap has opened up between them. Children instinctively want to connect to their parents – it takes significant and protracted abuse on the part of parents to break that innate urge. Likewise, almost all parents feel connected to and responsible for their children on a deep, intrinsic level. This is good news, because it means that rebuilding a strained relationship is a matter of returning things to a natural state, which is always easier than creating something artificial.
The change from child to adolescent to adult is a transition that must be addressed by both parents and children. Neither side can continue to behave as they always did and assume that the relationship will survive. If you need help managing, improving, or repairing your adult parent-child relationship, contact us to see how we can help you.
See our blog posts on In-Laws here.