I had this dream when my children were born that one day we'd be friends. Now I understood that I first would have to be a parent and guide them as best as I knew how through this crazy life but eventually, I hoped they would want to share their life and confide in me like a true friend. This was my goal and it wasn't going to be easy I knew that for sure.
I also knew it wasn't going to happen in high school and probably not fully in college either, although I hoped I had created the ground work while they were growing up that they could trust and rely on me for anything.
As my children each graduated from college, our relationship did grow into an authentic friendship. It's actually more than I could have possibly dreamed of having with each of them. They actually call to share what's going on in their lives without being prompted, and they genuinely want to spend time with me. Okay, so I do offer to make them dinner occasionally and make them cookies (lol) but I truly believe the feeling is mutual. The highlight of my transition into empty nest has most definitely been growing my relationship with my adult kids.
So, how did I do it?!
I could share all the ways I laid the ground work when they were kids but that's probably not going to help you today because if you're reading this most likely your kids are grown, right? I'm going to share a few things I do today to grow our relationship that will totally help move you in the right direction and then, I'll share my number one tip at the end.
1. BE INTERESTING
Do you know what I mean? Don't talk about the crazy neighbor, the weather or go into detail about your favorite TV show (unless it's there's too). Instead, challenge yourself to learn something new every day so you have something of interest to share. Read the news, listen to podcasts, talk to the person in line at the coffee shop or follow people on social media who inspire you and subscribe to their newsletter. Not only will this help with your kids but also grow your relationship with your husband or partner. If you're doing this you can always bring something interesting to the table.
2. BE AN EXAMPLE
Go live your life! Experience all this life has to offer YOU! Now, is the time to try that cooking class, learn to dance, become a certified yoga instructor, join a group, volunteer, whatever interests YOU, go do it! Kids are the same when they're young as well as adults, they learn by example and if you're living your life to the fullest so will they!
3. BE VULNERABLE
This is the #1 tip but it's also the hardest for us moms! We're so use to being strong for our kids that the thought of being vulnerable seems counterintuitive right?! Well, think of it this way, when you're with a good friend and they open up and share something they're really struggling with, it grows your relationship right?! You feel more connected especially if you can help them work through their problem. This is the same with your adult kids, if you want to have an authentic relationship you have to open yourself up in a vulnerable way so they can feel safe to do the same. But not only that...they just might be able to help you work through what ever it is you're struggling with in your life. Give them that opportunity, they're pretty darn smart!!
This doesn't happen overnight by any means but it's a way to start. Be patient and overtime you'll see your relationship grow into a beautiful friendship!
If you want to share any thoughts you have regarding your relationship with your adult kids, share with us in the comments below.
Nicole Cavey is the Chief Pursuit Officer of Love What's Next. Through her personal journey to uncover what was next for her, she discovered that you can love where you are no matter what stage in life you are in... as long as you know how. Her mission is to show YOU how!