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.
So I’ve always thought my husband and I communicated love to each other pretty well but one day I read something that was a huge "AHA" and changed everything for us! The Five Love Languages book by Gary Chapman completely changed how we communicate love to each other. Stay with me here, it’s actually fascinating!!
I was listening to a podcast by a couple of ladies, who read self help books, and then implement it into their life for two weeks. They come back, share their experiences and report back if it worked. When they first decided to read the Five Love Languages, they were pretty cynical about the whole concept. They thought it was a crazy concept.
The book explains that we all have at least one “language” out of five, that describes the way we show love as well as how we feel loved and appreciated. According to Dr. Chapman, there are five love languages: Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical Touch.
The podcast ladies didn’t believe in the idea of "love languages" so they went out to prove the theory false. What they didn’t expect to have happen was how it changed their friendship as well as their marriages.
In my case this was the same. My main love language is to show love by acts of service and my husband’s is to show love with words of affirmation (the book helps you identify what yours are if you’re not sure). What I didn’t understand at the time was that we also want to be shown love in the same way as we give it and if we aren’t getting that we don’t feel loved and appreciated because we don't recognize it as an act of love. Does that make sense??
So once we both realized this, just like the women on the podcast, we became more aware of what our partner needed and we could show them love in their language. When you understand your partners love language it helps take the guesswork out of your partner’s expectations and needs.
This changed everything for us! Our communication today is so much better, we tend to disagree less, and we definitely appreciate each other on a different level.
Knowing and understanding how your children feel loved and appreciated ("Love Language") can grow your relationship with them as well. One of my kid’s love language is “quality time” so I know when they ask me to do something with them like stay up late and watch a movie, even though I’m exhausted, I say, “yes!” because I know it makes them feel loved and appreciated. It’s totally worth it!
I would encourage you to read the book ASAP! It will change the level of joy you currently have in your life!
This post is based on our Humans Pursuit, creating and growing lasting relationships. To learn more about how our Love What's Next Six Pursuits can bring more joy into your daily life, click the link.
Comment below if you've read this book and how it's changed your life!
Embrace life and Love What's Next!!
Think about it…when was the last time you accomplished something meaningful on your own? Whether it’s raising kids, starting a new career or jump starting an old one, moving to a new city, recovering from a health crisis, or overcoming the loss of a loved one (just to name a few), we need each other and it takes a village as they say, to get through this life successfully!
Recently, I received the sweetest message from a friend I haven’t talked to in years. Last year she became an empty nester like me and was really struggling with the loss. She said looking back she’s not sure why it was so tragic but "it’s a huge heart thing…letting go.” Her note was to thank me for inspiring her through Love What’s Next, "where women can get wisdom when they can’t see what’s right in front of them.” (her words)
Empty nest syndrome is a very real thing and can take a while for some of us to recover. Just like any of the examples I just noted, it takes a support system, a village, to overcome this struggle and move into the next chapter in life!
Her note touched my heart so much. I so love what I do and for her to take the time to share her heartfelt message meant the world to me. Thank you Valeri!
Are you struggling with something currently and trying to deal with it alone OR are you asking your friends and family for help? Who’s in your village? Take the time today to thank them. Without them in your life, you wouldn’t be where you are today…guaranteed! If you're looking for a village to help you maneuver through something meaningful, check out our Scholarship Program below! We'd love to be your support system.
We all need a village and we want YOU to be apart of ours! I believe every woman should have the opportunity to Love What’s Next. So we want to make sure every woman CAN! We offer 24 scholarships a year so if you, or you know someone who is in need of the Love What’s Next Project, click below to learn more. We all need a village and if you need help navigating through this next phase in your life, we'd love to help!
Love What's Next Project
If you're someone who doesn't need a scholarship but would love to find a path that leads to joy during a transitional stage you're facing, you're in the right place! This is what you'll experience in this life changing Project...
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!