As a parent of adult kids, you might assume you've said it all. But here are 12 things your child needs to hear from you as an adult. If you hadn't said it before, do it more often
Let's start with something you have hopefully told your children more than once while they were growing up. If not, now is the time. Tell them they make you proud. Don't just acknowledge their accomplishments and external milestones. Appreciate them for who they are: kind, real, funny, gorgeous, smart.
Even if you had been the most self-aware, conscious, sensitive parent, and especially if you were not, saying sorry for what you might have caused them to feel or make them believe about themselves and the world around them can be very therapeutic.
Children carry scars from early years that they might not be consciously aware of but those could be stopping them from living their best. When you say sorry, you acknowledge that you were and are human, too, and it makes them drop resentment.
This can be an extremely potent question. Even if your child has been communicative, she/he might have something that they had held back in an effort to not hurt you. This question opens up a portal to those conversations.
Thank them for who they are, for what they have given you, for the growth you've had as their mom/dad, for all that they've taught you, for the joy and love they inspire in you and for simply being in your life.
There can be variations to this. "You are unique. There is no one quite like you." You might think your adult child will roll her/his eyes to hear you suddenly utter such words, but in all honesty, nothing makes an individual feel so good as words of appreciation from a parent.
This is important. Perhaps, when your kids were growing up, there was a lot of stress around the house. Maybe, you or your partner were dealing with an illness (physical or mental). Maybe there were a lot of arguments behind doors. But children are extremely sensitive.
They "know," even if they don't hear out loud. And when they felt the stress, pain, misery, or anger, shame, guilt in you or others around them, they make unconscious decisions to remain just like the other. As in, if you were depressed when your child was growing up, he/she is likely to never feel truly happy as a way to cope and feel connected with you. When you tell them that they deserve to be happy, it erases unconscious decisions and allows them to feel good.
Children make sense of the world around them and the adults in all their madness by taking responsibility for what happens. Whether it's a divorce, a sudden change in financial situations, constant fights, or even abuse, they assume they are to blame.
If your child experienced big life changes as a kid, it's important to tell them verbally that it never was their fault. Any of it. (Unless you believe it is; in which case, seek help).
Tell them that they deserve to feel their best. This is different from having the best. So if they have a great job but feel crappy, then tell them not to settle for something that doesn't make them happy. If their fiance seems picture perfect but your daughter/son is not being who they truly are, let them know their decision should come from knowing that they deserve to be and feel their best.
We hope you've reiterated this to your child on many occasions when they were a kid or a teen. If not, now is the time to do it. Let them know that they alone can decide how they feel and think about themselves. Anyone who disrespects or makes them doubt themselves doesn't deserve to be around.
This is a powerful tool to equip your adult child with. As parents, we have always emphasized that they say yes and agree to what is expected of them from others. This can get crippling if they never learn to say NO to things that aren't good for them. The ability to say NO helps build strong emotional and physical boundaries and makes it easy to not give in to unrealistic expectations, demands, peer pressure, and toxic people.
No matter how old your adult child might be, it is reassuring to hear this from you. Let them know, that no matter what, they can talk to you. You might not always agree with their choices, but you are ready to listen and understand.
If we all say this to our kids through actions and responses during their formative years, a lot of madness we see in the adult world would not be happening. Telling your child that they are enough just as they are, in other words, saying they don't need to look better, earn better, work harder, struggle more, you give them a sense of arrival.
You tell them they may not be perfect and that's okay. It would be very hard for a child whose innate sense of self-remains intact to be manipulated in relationships or pulled into unhealthy lifestyles as an adult.