When your grown child breaks your heart, that could be the worst feeling you could experience as a parent. The truth is, there will be a lot more heartbreaking moments in the future. And if you are not prepared to handle them, you are guaranteed to feel miserable most of the time. The good news? There are methods on how to cope with those feelings and revive a better relationship with your children.
When I was a teenage girl, my mom said that any parents’ most painful thing would experience. It is the moment when their child breaks their hearts.
It is inevitable. Because at some part of your journey as a parent, she said, you will do unpleasant things to your child.
And at one point, your child will start to grow up and speak up against all things you’ve done them wrong.
Sadly, this will eventually lead to a point where a grown child breaks your heart. Either with the way they speak, act, or even the decision they make to annoy you.
Back then, as a 14-year-old naive little girl, I couldn’t comprehend why and how any children could hurt their parents.
Aren’t parents the toughest person on earth? Aren’t they the ones who decide yes or no? How could someone so high in family authority be hurt?
I’d never seen my parents cried.
And that is enough for me to say that my parents had the toughest heart anybody could have.
As time passed and I got older, I now understand that most parents have the most fragile hearts.
And when their grown child breaks their heart, it can affect their daily lives and activities.
The worse thing? It can even get to a point where it affects their health.
The Art of Parenting a Grown Child
Parenting a grown child is a topic that is least discussed and talked about.
Many people expect that you learn one or two things about parenting when your child is still a baby. Then, you are expected to know many things about your child as they grow up.
When you have spent many years throughout your child’s life stages, you are expected to know somehow what to do with your grown child and how to parent them.
“Hey, you’ve lived with them for a long time!” they said.
However, this is not true.
Giving birth to a child, nurturing them, and bringing them into adulthood does not make any parents know how to parent a grown child.
It is not your fault if you are struggling.
Now, many parents believe that adulthood begins at the age of 18.
What you need to know is that adulthood is less about numbers and more about maturity.
Many children nowadays grow up mentally quicker than ever before.
You need to identify the changing of your child’s thoughts. Learn to recognize when their way of thinking is already mature.
It can only be done when you spend some amount of time talking with your child.
Learn to Identify What Went Wrong
Grown child nowadays struggles with many things. From crippling college debt, a highly competitive job market to the pressure to perform and succeed early.
It puts a tremendous amount of stress on your child. As much as you want to help them, you cannot always get them out of trouble.
What they are facing now is different from what you had to face in your early adulthood.
Life is different now with technology and social media, so is the pressure that your child experiences.
Because their problems are different, they need different approaches on how to solve them.
Your child will handle things and solve problems their way. Chances are they will listen to your suggestion but less likely to act upon it.
It is the moment where most parents realize that their little child is now a grown-up.
And it is the right time for you to understand that you cannot treat your child the same as when they were little.
Your child is now an individual with their mind, feelings, and decisions.
It would be best to treat your child with the same respect you will give to any other adult.
When your grown child breaks your heart, many reasons cause it.
As a parent, you should learn to identify what went wrong before you can overcome the problem.
Maybe, you have done something in the past that hurt your child.
For example, you made a comment that broke your grown-up child’s heart, such as a commentary regarding:
- Spots or zits
- Relationship status
- Work status
- Life decision
Your Grown Child Breaks Your Heart? Here’s How to Cope
As a parent, you need to remind yourself that the relationship with your child will only get more complicated when they are adults.
Even though you had done very well at your job as parents to provide and care for them when they were children, you should not neglect the importance of positive communication with them while they grow up.
That way, you can generate an easier way to resolve issues with your grown children.
If you were not always showing them your emotional feelings, this might be a good time to bring those unspoken feelings out.
“Any tension between parents and adult children can often be felt more strongly by a parent, as parents are often more emotionally invested.” – HuffPost, The 6 Things You Shouldn’t Say to Your Adult Children.
The ground rule to overcome the broken heart is looking at what you can do in your behavior to improve the situation.
Because you can never change another’s behavior, you can only change your own.
#1. Both of You Need a Different Relationship
Things are very seldom suddenly happening in relationships. Chances are, things are already starting way back before you realize it.
When your child is now a grown-up, you should not treat them like they are your child. Instead, treat them as you would treat your colleague.
You will not say mean things to a person with whom you work, will you?
It works for some parents when they treat their children as friends whom they have to respect. You will still be there for your friends when they need you.
You cannot barge into their home unannounced one day and start pointing things out that goes wrong in their household.
Choose a role you want to be for your children. Because, as sad as it sounds, you cannot be their parents anymore.
Respect is an essential part for you if you want to have a healthy relationship and start healing your broken heart.
Always speak respectfully to them, even if they did not show the same courtesy.
#2. It is OK to Disagree
Grown children have sharper communication skills. They are also better at seeing someone’s perspective and will likely think before they speak.
Therefore, they can talk to their parents to process disagreements.
As a result, parents may see the disagreements as an act of disrespect from their children, which then leads to disappointment and a broken heart.
Some parents expect full obedience from their children. This kind of expectation leads to disappointment that left parents to feel broken-hearted.
Your child is a different person and may have a different temper compared to you.
There will be lots of disagreement in the future between the two of you. For example, when you give them suggestions, they may react unexpectedly.
It doesn’t matter how helpful you think your suggestions are; your grown children may not always react well.
When the discussion starts to heat and escalate, control the situation by listening to what they say without interrupting them.
Listen to their insight without being critical. If the situation does not get better, take a stop, pause, and try the next day again.
Keep your promise that you will talk to them tomorrow and do not disappear or pretend that the problem does not exist, as this will worsen the tension between you and your grown child.
Read also: Grown children decide for themselves. Along the way, they may misjudge and make bad decisions. If you’re unsure what to do, this article teaches you about the essential steps you can take when your grown child makes bad decisions.
#3. Express Yourself
The simple thing to do when your grown child breaks your heart is to let them know.
Yes, we all know it is not easy for parents to show up emotions, especially if you have been concealing your feelings from the get-go.
You have to accept the reality that sometimes your grown child will not behave the way you expect them to, and it is alright.
The goal is to express yourself and tell your grown child that he or she is hurting you.
They might not directly respond to it, but it will undoubtedly get into their mind, and they will think about it for at least one night.
#4. Ask for Help
When things are getting worse, and the relationships are tearing apart, seeking outside help is necessary.
Going to family counseling or therapy can help improve both your situation and mental well-being.
Understandably, your grown child might not want to come to therapy, but it is okay if you come to a session all by yourself.
Typically, when you go alone to family therapy, you will learn two or three things you can put to practice that will eventually make your situation better.
However, to benefit from a session, you have to let go of your ego.
Sometimes, you have to erase your memory of what you’ve learned so far about child parenting and be prepared to take some insights about adult parenting.
#5. It is Your Child
Sometimes, regardless of what you do, things do not get better, especially if your grown child faces a severe issue or suffering from a disability.
It doesn’t matter how things turn out; your grown child is still the same child you gave birth to and nurtured.
Try to be the first person who tries to get in touch. Call first.
It is very recommended that you reach out to them, be laid back, and be courteous.
At the end of the day, it is still your child.
Read also: For some, parent-child relationships are rough. Maybe, your child doesn’t call you anymore. If that’s the case, you need to be the one who calls first and try to mend the relationship.
In the future, when your grown child breaks your heart, you can do these steps to heal yourself and prevent future heart-breaking moments.
- Spend a decent amount of time communicating with them and trying to identify the problems they are facing. If you didn’t do it during the time they are growing up, do it now.
- Understand that they are going through different difficulties compared to what you’ve faced in your early days.
- Accept the reality that sometimes your advice is not always be acted upon.
- Stop criticizing and making commentaries on their weight, acne, zits, housekeeping, partner choice, and life decision they make.
- Take a turn to lead the relationship differently. You can’t stay parents anymore. Treat your grown child like a colleague or a friend.
- Set ground rules when you disagree about something. Take a step back, relax, and even sleep on it before continuing the discussion.
- Let them know how you feel and tell them if you’re hurt.
- When the situation does not get better, ask for outside help and advice. Even if your child refuses to come with you, you can still benefit significantly from family counseling or therapy.
- At the end of the day, they are still your children. Be the one who reaches out to them and let them know that you are just one phone call away to help.