Distancing yourself from your adult son or daughter can be very painful. Relationships can be fixed, but this takes time and patience. Like his father, you must recognize that the first steps to take to fix the relationship will depend on you, since you will have to initiate communication, regardless of whether or not you consider that you have done something wrong that has caused the estrangement. Respect the limits that your adult child has set for your relationship and don't overstep them, while also setting some limits of your own. Learn to accept your adult child for who he is, and recognize his independence and ability to make his own decisions.
Method 1 of 4: Communicate with your child
Step 1. Clarify what went wrong
Before trying to reconnect with your child, it may help to find out why your adult child is upset with you. You may be able to get the information directly from your child, or you may need to find out from someone else who knows the situation. To improve the relationship, first find out what the problem is.
- After you have a notion of what is wrong, you will have some time to think about the next steps you will take, and what you will have to say to your son or daughter.
- Go to your adult child and ask him. You could say something like “René, I know you don't want to talk to me right now, and I would like to know what I have done to hurt you. Could you tell me please? It's okay if you don't want to talk to me, but write or email me. I can't solve the problem if I don't know what's wrong. "
- If you don't get a response from your son or daughter, you could reach out to another family member or mutual friend who may know what's going on. You could say something like “Jack, have you talked to your brother lately? He doesn't want to talk to me and I can't figure out what the problem is. Do you know what happens?
- Finding out the reason for the distancing would be best, but keep in mind that you may not be able to figure it out. However, don't let this prevent you from re-bonding with your child.
Step 2. Reflect a little
Spend some time thinking about the reasons for the distancing. Is it due to something from the past? Has there been a recent big change in your life that may have caused the estrangement (such as the death of a family member or the birth of a child)? You may have even refused to communicate with your child for a period, and now you notice that your child is unwilling to talk to you.
Keep in mind that many adult children distance themselves from their parents if the latter divorce. Children of divorced parents go through a situation where their parents prioritize their own happiness over the child's needs (even if divorce has been the best option). Typically, in these types of situations, parents may speak ill of each other without realizing that their children absorb everything they say. This can have a drastic negative effect on the type of relationship an adult child can have with their parents. This is especially the case if there was a parent who had little or no contact during the child's upbringing. Adult children of divorced parents may experience the pain of feeling that their parents give them a low priority
Step 3. Make the decision
Regardless of whether you have done something wrong or not, parents are often the ones who should take the first steps to reconcile with a estranged child. Forget how unfair the problem is and leave your ego behind. If you want to re-establish a bond with your child, keep in mind that you will have to be the one to initiate communication, and you will have to maintain it.
Regardless of whether your child is 14 or 40, they will still want to know that their parents love and value them. One way to show your love and value it is to be willing to fight for your relationship. Keep this in mind if you are struggling with the unfairness and burden of work required to rejoin
Step 4. Communicate with your child
You may want to meet your son or daughter in person right away; however, if you communicate by phone, email or letter; they are likely to consider it less invasive. Respect their need for distance and give them the opportunity to respond whenever they want. Be patient and give your child a few days to give you his answer.
- Practice what you want to say before calling on the phone. Also be ready to leave a voicemail. You could say something like, “Tommy, I'd really like for us to get together to talk about how you're feeling. Would you be willing to meet me at some point?
- Send an email or text message. You could write something like, “I understand that you are dealing with a lot of pain right now, and I am very sorry that I hurt you. When you feel ready, I hope you are willing to meet with me to discuss it. Let me know when you are. I love you and I miss you".
Step 5. Write a letter
Your child may not be willing to meet with you. If so, you could write him a letter. Apologize for the pain you caused her, and acknowledge that you understand why she is feeling this way.
- If you write a letter, this can also be therapeutic for you. This will clear up your feelings and help you control your emotions. In addition, you can take all the time you need to order your words as you want.
- Suggest that you meet when you are ready. You could write something like, “I know you are upset right now, but I hope that in the future we can get together and talk about it. My doors will always be open”.
Step 6. Accept the limits you set
Your adult child may be willing to communicate with you, but is not ready to meet in person (and may never be). They probably just want to email you or talk on the phone. Don't make her feel guilty and at the same time keep the door open for future encounters.
If you and your adult child are in an email-only relationship, you could write something like, “I am so happy that we are communicating via email these days. I hope you can get to the point where we feel comfortable re-establishing a bond between us, but I don't want to put pressure on you. "
Method 2 of 4: Have a First Conversation
Step 1. Organize a meeting
If your adult child is willing to speak with you in person, meet in a public place to eat. It is a good idea for them to eat together in public, as they will be more likely to keep their emotions in check. In addition, sharing a meal with someone is an act that allows you to develop a community.
Only the two of you should meet. Don't bring your spouse or someone else to support you. This could give your child the feeling that he is being attacked in a group
Step 2. Let your adult child lead the conversation
Listen to your child's concerns without arguing against them or getting defensive. You are also likely to come to your meeting expecting an immediate apology. If you feel that it will be like this, apologize.
It may be helpful to start your meeting with an apology to signal to your adult child that you understand that you have caused him pain, and give him the feeling that they have "leveled the playing field." After you apologize, you could ask him to tell you more about what he's been feeling
Step 3. Listen to your child without judgment
Know that his point of view is valid, even if you disagree with him. Recovery can occur if the person feels that they have been heard and understood, and that you remain receptive to their perspective.
- Listening without judgment or defensiveness allows the person to be honest with their responses. What you hear could be very painful for you; however, you should keep in mind that your child may need to say it and express his feelings.
- You could say, “I feel really bad for making you feel that way, and I want to understand you. Can you tell me more?
Step 4. Take your share of the blame
Keep in mind that you will not be able to get very far in your reconciliation if you do not recognize the way in which you could have contributed to the problem. Adult children want their parents to take responsibility for their actions. You must be willing to do it, regardless of whether you think you are or were wrong.
- You may not understand why your son or daughter is upset with you, but you must acknowledge that they feel that way. Don't try to defend your behavior. Instead, listen and apologize for causing the pain.
- Try to understand what your child is feeling. Showing empathy doesn't mean that you need to agree with the person, but rather that you understand their perspective. Understanding their perspective is an important part of conflict resolution.
- You could say something like, “I know I put a lot of pressure on you growing up. I wanted you to be successful. However, I can understand that you thought I was never happy with you. This was not my intention at all, and it is not true at all. Even so, I can understand that my behavior has made you think like that”.
Step 5. Don't talk about your feelings around distancing
It may seem unfair, but this is not the time to bring up your sadness and the pain you feel for not being able to communicate with your child. He acknowledges that he needed a little space to deal with his emotions and work things out. If you mention your feelings of sadness, anger and resentment; This could give your adult child the impression that you want to make him feel guilty, which would make him less willing to be in a relationship with you again.
- You could say something like, "I missed talking to you, but I know you need a little space sometimes."
- Don't say something like "I was so depressed because you didn't call me" or "Do you know the agony I've gone through not knowing anything about you?"
Step 6. Apologize
A good apology should clearly state what you have done wrong (so the interlocutor will know that you understand), express remorse, and offer some kind of solution. Give your son or daughter a sincere apology, acknowledging the pain you have caused them. You should apologize even if you think your actions were correct. The point now is your child's pain, not whether either of you is right or wrong.
- You could say something like, “Tina, I'm sorry I hurt you so much. I know you've had to deal with a lot when drinking. I feel very bad for having made many mistakes in your childhood. I understand that you want to keep your distance from me, but I hope we can work it out. "
- Never try to justify your actions when you apologize, even if you think you have a valid excuse. For example, if you say, "I'm sorry I hit you 5 years ago, but I did it because you answered me," this will not be an apology and will make the other person defensive.
- Keep in mind that an authentic and effective apology consists of apologizing for your actions, rather than the other person's reaction. For example, "I'm sorry my behavior hurt you" is an effective apology; "I'm sorry if this hurt you" is not. Never use the word "yes" in an apology.
Step 7. Consider family therapy
If your adult child is willing to do this, you could go to family therapy together to discuss their feelings in the presence of a trained professional. A marriage and family therapist will guide family members in identifying dysfunctional family behaviors and developing their own solutions to a problem. Family therapy also allows you to recognize and improve the bonds that family members have with each other.
- Family therapy is usually short-term and focuses on a problem that affects the family. You or your child may be advised to see a separate therapist to focus on individual concerns.
- To find a marriage and family therapist, you could ask a general practitioner for recommendations, check with a community resource center or health department, or look online for one near you.
Method 3 of 4: Respect and Set Limits
Step 1. Start slowly
Resist the urge to rush back into the relationship. Generally, a broken relationship will not be fixed overnight. It may take weeks, months, or even years to return to "normal," depending on the severity of the main reason for the distancing. They could also go back to normal but in a new way.
- Keep in mind that you may have a lot of difficult conversations about distancing to have as you both take in your feelings. They are unlikely to just have a conversation and then everything goes back to normal, just like before.
- Increase the contact little by little. At first, meet only with your child in public places. Don't invite him to crowded family events (like holiday parties) unless he seems ready and willing to attend.
- You could say something like, “We'd love for you to join us on Thanksgiving, but I definitely understand if you don't want to attend. We won't hold a grudge against you if you prefer, I know you need to take your time”.
Step 2. Recognize that your child is an adult
Your child is now an adult capable of making his own decisions. You may not agree with some of their decisions; however, you have to let her be independent and live her own life. Meddling in the life of your adult child could have caused him to distance himself a bit from you.
Don't offer unwanted advice. Resist the urge to fix your child's life, and let him make his own mistakes
Step 3. Don't give parenting advice
Parents can easily be upset by other people's parenting advice, no matter how well-intentioned it is. Don't give your opinion if they don't ask for it. You have already raised your children, now let the next generation have the opportunity to raise their own.
Tell your child that you will respect, and give in to, their values and wishes related to parenthood. For example, if your grandchild is limited to one hour a day to watch television, let his parents know that you will also follow this rule at home, or first ask if the rule should be dropped
Step 4. Seek therapy for yourself
Dealing with an estranged child can be a very painful and stressful event in your life. It may be worth seeking out a trained mental health professional who can help you cope with your emotions and develop effective strategies for communicating and dealing with problems.
- You may want to find a counselor who specializes in family problems. However, you should be aware that your individual therapist may refer you to a different therapist if you would like you and your child to work out their problems in the presence of a counselor. This will allow the counselor to stay objective.
- You may also be able to find help in online support group forums. You will be able to meet other people facing similar problems, and you will be able to talk about your problems and share success stories.
Step 5. Be persistent, but not domineering
If your son or daughter refuses to respond to your attempts to communicate, keep trying. Send him cards, write him emails or leave him voicemails, which will show him that you think of him and want to talk.
- However, you should give the person some space and respect their need for privacy and distance. Communicate with her at most once a week, and decrease the contact if you discover that your adult child considers it invasive, but continue to communicate with him.
- You could say something like, “Hi Marisa, I just wanted to say hello and tell you that I was thinking of you. I hope you are well. Miss you. You know you can come to me whenever you want to talk. I love you".
- Do not visit it. Recognize your limits and keep ways of communicating that are less intrusive.
Step 6. Forget it if you have to
Your adult child might see even your least invasive attempts to communicate as a way to push his limits and exceed you. They may not want to hear from you yet, even if you have apologized and acknowledged your actions. In this case, it may be best to accept it for the sake of your own mental health, and stop looking for a relationship.
- Let your child make the decision. Send him a note or leave him a voicemail saying something like “Peter, I understand that you want me to stop contacting you. Although it saddens me, I will respect it and will not contact you after this message. If you ever wish to bond with me again, I will be here, but I will respect your wishes and will never contact you again. I love you".
- Be aware that reconciliation could be difficult in cases of substance abuse, mental illness, or an unhealthy relationship in your child's marriage or commitment (eg, if your child is married to a controlling partner). Perhaps their distancing is only due to these issues, but you may not be able to do anything about it until your child addresses these underlying issues.
- If your child asks you not to communicate with him at all, you can find a therapist to help you overcome your grief. This is a difficult option, and you may need additional support.
Method 4 of 4: Accept your identity
Step 1. Accept that your child sees life from a different point of view
They probably lived in the same house and spent most of their days together; But even so, one person's perspective on one situation could be totally different from another's. Recognize that your adult child's memories or perspective are just as valid as yours.
- A person's point of view on a situation could be totally different depending on age, power dynamics, or closeness of relationships. For example, moving to another city might have been great for you, but your kids may have struggled because they had no choice but to follow you.
- Family life is made up of different realities. For example, when you were a child, your parents might have taken you to the museum. Your memories of the day could be interesting displays and a fun family outing. You may remember that you were too hot with your jacket on and that the dinosaur skeletons scared you. Neither your memories nor those of your parents are invalid, they are just different points of view.
Step 2. Accept each other's differences
Perhaps you have become estranged because one or both of you do not approve of the decisions in the other's life. There may not be much you can do about your child's attitude toward you, but you can show him that you accept him for who he is, no matter what.
- Take steps to show your child your change of mind. For example, if your child is gay and you belong to a conservative congregation, look for a congregation that is more liberal and receptive.
- You could indicate to your child that you are reading a book to try to understand his point of view.
- If your child does not speak to you because he disapproves of the decisions of your life, the situation will be more difficult. Be firm and confident about yourself, and keep showing him that you love him. Do your best to communicate with him and look for opportunities to see him.
Step 3. Respect their right to disagree with you
You don't have to change your opinions or beliefs, just avoid disrespecting theirs. You can disagree with someone and still respect and love them. Not everyone has to have the same opinion.
- Respect their differing opinions to the best of your ability. For example, if you are a religious person and your adult child is an atheist, you could choose not to go to church on the weekend that they visit you.
- Look for conversation topics that are not contentious issues. If your adult child starts talking to you about issues that have caused you to argue in the past, you could say something like, “Will, let's just accept that we disagree on this issue for now. I think the only thing we do when we talk about it is get upset with each other. "