1. Parenting
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Discuss in my forum

7 Hints for Communicating With Adult Children

Grandparents' Best Tool Is Tact

By

Tell it like it is--sometimes! There are circumstances when you must deal with an adult child in a very assertive way, such as when you feel that a grandchild is in an unhealthy situation. Abusive situations must be reported to the authorities. In most other situations, your approach should be quite the opposite. The best way to bridge the generation gap is to use tact and to defer to the parent’s right to make child-rearing decisions. Special care may be needed in stepfamily relationships. Here are seven guidelines for communicating with your adult children:

1. Don't let family ties be an excuse for rudeness.

Elderly woman with her grandson at a home
ONOKY - Fabrice LEROUGE/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

For most interactions with your adult child, you must be diplomatic. The guideline here is to act as you would behave if the person were not related to you. Imagine that you are dealing with a younger adult with whom you are close, but who is not a part of your family. It may help you to have a particular person in mind--Johnny, for example. When you are considering saying something to your adult child, ask yourself, "Would I speak this way to Johnny?" If the answer is no, then don't say it, or say it in a different way. Our family members deserve at least the same courtesy that we extend to the world at large.

2. Think before you talk.

That is, of course, a good rule for almost every person in almost every situation, but it is also difficult for us all. Everyone at some time or another is going to say something he or she should not have said. Forgiveness is more likely, however, if we have built up a history of being kind and non-interfering.

3. Build a foundation of good feelings.

Praise your child's parenting skills whenever it is possible and appropriate. Simple statements such as, "I love how you explain things to Thomas," can be powerful in fostering the feeling that you approve of your child as a parent. And parental approval is probably still important to your adult child.

4. Don't make statements about how you raised your children.

Such statements often have a built-in critical tone. You are allowed, however, to tell funny stories about how something you did as a parent backfired on you or to relate in a kind of "gee-whiz" manner some of the strange things parents used to do--"Can you believe I bought you a cap gun when you were three?" Otherwise, be aware that child-rearing philosophies and practices have changed since you were a young parent. Respect that. You don't expect your children to drive 30-year-old cars; don't expect them to follow 30-year-old practices. Once my daughter was having a tantrum, and my mother-in-law advised me to pour a glass of ice water on her. I resisted her suggestion, of course, just as my children might reject some of my suggestions.

5. Remember to listen.

Half of communicating is composed of the messages you send out. The other half consists of the messages you receive. Some grandparents have trouble with that second half. Sometimes we're distracted. Sometimes we want to jump right in with our own ideas or solutions. These hints for communicating with a spouse are also applicable to other family members. Practicing listening skills can make almost any relationship healthier and happier.

6. Love your adult child as well as your grandchild.

Children sometimes humorously complain that once they provide us with grandchildren, they never get any attention. Make it a point to relate to your child as an adult and discuss jobs, movies, politics and topics unrelated to your grandchildren. Do things with your children that don't involve the grandchildren. Appreciate them as adults.

7. Have faith that your child will do a good job.

After all, he or she had a great teacher!

Related Video
Children and Boating Safety

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.