Christian Parenting and Family Resources with Biblical Principles

5 Ways to Restore a Relationship with Your Adult Child

  • Linda Gilden Contributing Writer
  • 2022 10 Mar
5 Ways to Restore a Relationship with Your Adult Child

When your child crosses over from childhood to adulthood, your relationship with that child will change. No longer are you the authority figure in their life. But if you maintain a good relationship with that child, you will have a friend for life with a solid foundation that binds you together through good and bad times.

Marsha had a relationship with her son she thought would never change. They had been close since he was born as the baby of the family and never wavered, that is, until he got married. Throughout his engagement, things were pretty good. His fiancée, Sue Anne, tried to please him and find her place in the family. She was respectful and polite in every way. But once they said “I do!” it became evident those days were gone. Marsha had to choose every word carefully not to throw Sue Anne into a tizzy.

When Zach and Sue Anne had children, Marsha had to be even more careful. If Sue Anne didn’t like what she said or did, she would not be invited to their home for an extended period of time. Zach didn’t know what to do; he wanted to keep his wife happy. Marsha tried to be helpful and only offered advice when asked. But on those occasions of estrangement, Marsha had to be creative about her communication with her grandchildren. For several months Marsha wrote letters, not knowing if they even received them. Once or twice she parked outside their grammar school just so she could catch a glimpse of them walking to the bus.

So if something happens to cause you and your adult child to become estranged, what can you do to restore communication and become close again?

1. Pray

There are so many elements involved in relationships that there is usually more than one area that needs work when communication is broken. And, the One who can help break through the lines of hurt and miscommunication is God. So the very first thing we need to do is ask Him to help us restore the family relationship. Tell Him what is in your heart and how you feel about what has happened. Sure He already knows, but vocalizing that hurt and your desire for restoration of the relationship will open the door for you to listen to what God has to say.

We must also pray for each person who is involved in the family. God created families to be the backbone of our country, and it is important to keep those families strong and healthy. So pray for your family. You will find it is hard to pray for someone and stay mad at them.

John 14:13 reminds us of the importance of praying. “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” He loves each one of us and wants us to be happy.

2. Forgive

It is not up to us to judge those we love. We all make mistakes. When our adult children make mistakes that affect us, we must forgive them and move on to grow together.

When your children become adults, your job as an advisor becomes optional, and you should only give advice when asked. When you follow that rule, you will probably be asked your opinion more often. If we can adopt the position of a friend instead of advisor, your role as a mentor may be extended.

Isaiah 30:18 tells us that God is “a God of justice.” So we must trust Him to bring judgment where needed. We don’t have to worry about getting even for any wrong we perceive has been done to us. We must forgive those who have hurt us. God forgave us in a big way when he sent His son Jesus to die for us. Forgiveness is the beginning to complete healing when relationships are broken.

3. Listen

What a gift to our adult children to become a sounding board for them. But when all communication has been severed, listening becomes even more important. Sometimes what they are not saying becomes paramount to figuring out how to restore healthy communication.

James 1:19 says to us, “This you know, my beloved brethren, but everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger.” James recognized the value of being a good listener and the importance of thinking before you speak. Listening to your adult children is one way you can show how much you care about what is going on in their lives.

4. Help and Be Available

Adult children often need help. If we can make ourselves available, you will often find that conversation in the midst of doing something with your hands becomes deeper and more intimate. If parents can be patient, the time will come when their adult children will ask for help with some part of living on their own – changing a light bulb, putting together a hose reel, painting the kitchen, etc. And once your adult children have their children, they will almost always welcome help with the grandchildren. If you are denied access to the grandchildren like Marsha, perhaps you can find creative ways to stay in touch with them. Surprises in the mailbox, letters sent through the postal service, email stories, pictures that are texted.

It is really hard for parents to pass up an offer of help, even from grandparents they may be mad at. Your patience will pay off. Making yourself available may not always be convenient, but it may be necessary to get through a difficult period.

5. Realize you have differences

God made each of us unique, and all relationships will have rough times. If you know the personalities of your children and their spouses, it will help you understand the best way to communicate with them. For instance, if you have a Mobilizer child, you probably already know that the best way to communicate with that child is directly and to the point. Lists also work well with the Mobilizer. If your child is a Socializer personality, you have probably figured out that the more fun you can make your time together, the better it will be received. For those Stabilizer personalities, you must take it easy and give them the space and solitude they need to decompress and respond in a less stressful way. Then your Organizer personalities will need time to process the differences between you and think through the problem to respond in a well thought out manner. (Personality information above is from the LINKED Personality System developed by Linda Gilden and Linda Goldfarb).

Philippians 4:6 says, “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God."

As you pray for your loved ones, never stop praying, and as you pray, thank God that He created your family. As you begin with thankfulness, He will bring to mind all the wonderful things about your family and remind you they are worth fighting for. Today’s world provides many distractions for families, and life is often difficult. No matter what problems you encounter along life’s road, they are not insurmountable. God wants the best for your family. Don’t get in His way.

Photo credit: ©GettyImages/seb_ra

Linda Gilden is an award-winning writer, speaker, editor, certified writing and speaking coach, and personality consultant. Her passion is helping others discover the joy of writing and learn to use their writing to make a difference. Linda recently released Articles, Articles, Articles! and is the author of over a thousand magazine articles and 19 books including the new Quick Guides for Personalities. She loves every opportunity to share her testimony, especially through her writing. Linda’s favorite activity (other than eating folded potato chips) is floating in a pool with a good book surrounded by splashing grandchildren—a great source of writing material!