Doing Life With Your Adult Children – A Guide for Parents

Navigating the waters of parenthood doesn’t end when your children reach adulthood. In fact, “doing life with your adult children” presents a whole new set of challenges and rewards. This phase of life can be a beautiful journey if approached with understanding, respect, and open communication.

Understanding the Shift

As your children blossom into adulthood, the nature of your relationship with them undergoes a significant transformation. This change is not only inevitable but also a healthy part of their growth and your evolving role as a parent. It’s crucial to acknowledge this metamorphosis and adapt your parenting approach to suit this new phase of life.

In their childhood and adolescence, your role was primarily managerial. You set rules, guided their behavior, and made decisions for them. You were their protector, their teacher, and their primary source of knowledge about the world. However, as they mature into adults, this role must evolve.

Your adult children will start making their own decisions, forming their own beliefs, and leading their own lives. They will have their own careers, relationships, and possibly start families of their own. This is where your role transitions from being a manager to becoming more of a consultant.

As a consultant, you’re no longer in charge of their day-to-day decisions or actions. Instead, you become a source of wisdom and advice they can seek when they need it. This doesn’t mean you’re any less important in their lives; it simply means the nature of your importance has changed.

Respecting their autonomy is a crucial aspect of this new role. It’s about trusting in the values and lessons you’ve instilled in them over the years and believing in their ability to make sound decisions. It’s about understanding that they are now adults capable of managing their own lives, and while they may make mistakes, those mistakes are theirs to make and learn from.

This shift in dynamics can be challenging to navigate, but it’s a necessary part of doing life with your adult children. It’s about finding the balance between being present and stepping back, between guiding them and letting them find their own way. It’s about embracing the beauty of seeing them as independent adults while cherishing the everlasting bond of parenthood.

The Role of Communication

The essence of maintaining a healthy and fulfilling relationship with your adult children lies in the power of open and sincere communication. As your children mature, they develop their own worldviews, shaped by their unique experiences and perspectives. Recognizing and respecting this individuality is crucial to fostering a strong bond during this new phase of your relationship.

Expressing your feelings, thoughts, and expectations transparently is a critical part of this communication process. It’s not just about voicing your concerns or sharing your wisdom but also about articulating your hopes, fears, and vulnerabilities. This openness helps avoid misunderstandings and strengthens the trust between you and your adult children.

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However, communication is not a one-way street. While it’s important to express yourself, being an active listener is equally vital. Listening to your adult children, truly hearing their thoughts, feelings, and aspirations, shows them that you value their opinions and respect their autonomy. It’s about giving them the space to express themselves without fear of judgment or criticism.

Remember, your adult children are no longer the little ones who looked to you for answers. They are grown individuals with their own beliefs, ideas, and experiences. Their perspectives might differ from yours, and that’s okay. It’s essential to respect these differences and use them as opportunities for learning and growth rather than points of contention.

Effective communication with your adult children is about striking a balance. It’s about speaking, listening, expressing, understanding, guiding, and learning. It’s about fostering a relationship that respects individuality while cherishing the bond that ties you together. This open and respectful communication forms the bedrock of successfully doing life with your adult children.

The Jim Burns Perspective

Jim Burns, a highly respected author and expert in family dynamics, provides invaluable wisdom on parenting adult children. His perspective is rooted in the understanding that the transition from parenting children to relating with adults requires a significant shift in approach.

Burns emphasizes the importance of granting adult children the liberty to make decisions. This freedom is a fundamental aspect of their journey toward independence and self-reliance. It’s about allowing them to navigate their own path, make their own mistakes, and learn from them. While potentially fraught with challenges, this process is vital for their personal growth and development.

However, Burns acknowledges that this is often easier said than done. As parents, it’s natural to want to protect your children from potential pitfalls or mistakes. It can be difficult to watch them make decisions you may not agree with or believe could lead to hardship. Yet, Burns asserts that these experiences are essential for your adult children to mature and learn resilience.

In Burns’ view, parents should transition from being directors of their children’s lives to becoming their guides. This means offering advice when sought, providing support when needed, but ultimately respecting their autonomy and their ability to make their own choices. It’s about trusting in the values and life skills you’ve instilled in them over the years and believing in their capacity to apply these lessons in their own lives.

It’s a balance between providing support and encouraging independence, between sharing wisdom and respecting their decisions. It’s a challenging process that can lead to a rewarding and enriching relationship with your adult children.

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Balancing Independence and Support

As your children transition into adulthood, one of the most critical aspects you’ll navigate as a parent is the delicate equilibrium between fostering their independence and providing them with support. This balance is not always easy to achieve, but it’s essential for their growth and your evolving relationship.

Independence is a crucial component of adulthood. It’s about your adult children making their own decisions, managing their own lives, and learning from their own experiences. Encouraging this independence is vital, as it allows them to develop self-reliance, resilience, and confidence in their abilities. It’s about trusting in the values and life skills you’ve instilled in them and allowing them to apply these lessons in their own lives.

However, independence does not mean isolation. Your adult children, despite their growing autonomy, may still need your support in various forms. This support can manifest in different ways, depending on their unique circumstances and needs.

Emotional support is often a significant aspect of this. Life can be challenging, and knowing they have a safe space to express their feelings and concerns can be incredibly comforting for your adult children. It’s about being there for them, offering a listening ear, and providing reassurance and encouragement when needed.

Financial advice is another area where your support can be beneficial. As they navigate the complexities of financial independence, your experience and wisdom can provide valuable guidance. This could involve discussing budgeting strategies and investment options or simply sharing lessons you’ve learned from your own financial journey.

Being a Sounding Board

Being there to listen is also a crucial part of providing support. Sometimes, your adult children may not be seeking advice or solutions; they may need someone to listen to their thoughts, concerns, or achievements. Offering a non-judgmental space for them to express themselves can strengthen your bond and show them that you respect their perspectives.

However, ensuring that your support does not foster dependency is important. The goal is to empower your adult children, not to create a reliance that could hinder their growth. It’s about offering a helping hand, not carrying them. This is where the balance comes into play. It’s about knowing when to step in and when to step back, when to offer advice and when to listen when to provide support, and when to encourage self-reliance.

In essence, balancing independence and support when living with your adult children is about respecting their autonomy while reassuring them that they are not alone. It’s a delicate dance that can lead to a fulfilling and mutually respectful relationship.


Doing life with your adult children is a unique and rewarding journey. It requires patience, understanding, and a willingness to adapt to new roles and dynamics. But with open communication and respect, this stage of life can be a fulfilling experience for both parents and their grown children.

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Alex Koliada, PhD

Alex Koliada, PhD

Alex Koliada, PhD, is a well-known doctor. He is famous for his studies of ageing, genetics and other medical conditions. He works at the Institute of Food Biotechnology and Genomics NAS of Ukraine. His scientific researches are printed by the most reputable international magazines. Some of his works are: Differences in the gut Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes ratio across age groups in healthy Ukrainian population []; Mating status affects Drosophila lifespan, metabolism and antioxidant system [Science Direct]; Anise Hyssop Agastache foeniculum Increases Lifespan, Stress Resistance, and Metabolism by Affecting Free Radical Processes in Drosophila [Frontiersin].
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