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  • Writer's pictureAmy Dougley

Connecting with our adult children

As our children become adults and venture out into the world, carving their own path, it can be challenging for us as parents to understand how best to support them and how to continue to grow and nurture the relationship.


Many of us struggle with the change in the relationship and knowing when we are and aren’t needed. Sometimes it is easier to parent a young child as most of our parenting is based on basic human needs, for example, providing shelter, food, emotional support, but the complexities of forming a relationship between a parent and their adult child can come with a wide range of emotions from both sides.


In this blog we will share a few brief pointers to help those of you who are trying to navigate connecting with your adult child(ren).


1.    Connection is a lifelong endeavour: It is important to know we never truly arrive at a specific “destination” when it comes to connection with our child(ren) as they enter into adulthood. It is helpful to remain curious and compassionate observers and supporters in our children’s lives.

2.    Advice might not always be welcomed or warranted: Asking what they have learned, what they think and what they want to share is a way of learning. Remembering to respect our collective wisdom without placing ourselves in a position of being the “expert” over their lives is also important.

3.    Learn from your adult children: Let your adult children be your teacher, you might be amazed by what you learn!

4.    Understand and learn from your own childhood:

“Contrary to what many people believe, your early experiences do not determine your fate. If you had a difficult childhood but have come to make sense of those experiences, you are not bound to recreate the same negative interactions with your own children.” Siegel and Hartzell (2003).

5.    Take care of yourself: Taking care of yourself encompasses physical, mental and spiritual care (whatever that looks like for each of us.) When we do this, we work towards being the best version of ourselves, which in turn helps us to take care of our relationships.

6.    Be humble and reflect on yourself: Adult children can continue to thrive when we remain humble and are able to apologize when we make a mistake or overstep. We are all fallible humans and need our children (whatever age) to see us as this to create a close and lasting connection.

7.    Avoid comparisons:

It can be easy to look at our adult children and compare where we were in life at their age. Whilst it’s ok to have hopes and dreams for your adult children, it is important to remember they are on their own path and have their own goals, priorities and timeline, which is based on many factors. Reminding them that by their age you had achieved x, y, z will only create tension and distance in your relationship.  


If you are struggling to connect with your adult child and would like to see if a trained mental health professional can provide support to you, call us at 519.751.0728 or email Many of our team have worked with all kinds of families and have lots of experience in helping to navigate challenging relationships.


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