Suzanne E. Harrill
is never too late to create a good relationship with your
grown children. It
begins with you, reeducating yourself about many things. You
have the opportunity to improve your part of the equation
regardless of whether the other person changes or not.
You may need to remind yourself that relationships are
co-created and that it takes two willing people to relate. The
more mature each person is, the more readily differences can
be overcome. You may benefit from redefining your concept of a
good relationship with this person, as well as your current
patterns of thinking and behaving. As you look at the visions,
wishes, hopes, and dreams that you have about your
relationship with this person, remember that this is exactly
what they are—the goals and potential of the relationship
from your point of view. To accept the current reality with
your grown child and to be able to have inner peace and
enjoyment of your own life regardless of the outcome of the
situation is your task.
one person with whom you would like to have a better
relationship. It can be with a grown child, parent, sibling,
boss, business partner, or ex-spouse. Even though I will be
talking about improving the relationship between a parent and
their grown child, this information applies to any important
relationship in your life that has difficulties, room for
improvement, or does not allow you to directly work on
building a relationship at this time. We will look at ways to
focus on your own life and healing rather than on the
relationship as it is at this time. A good relationship can be
held in your consciousness until the proper timing to manifest
it with the other person. In the meantime consider healing
your part in the relationship, which is the only part you have
control over. This
then allows the relationship to go forward with new
will take some work on your part to be honest and realistic
with yourself about your expectations and goals, to let go of
control and attachments to certain results, to know the
difference between your needs and the needs of the other
person, and to forgive the past and yourself, to name a few
yourself such things as, what are the values, maturity level,
and awareness level of your grown child, as well as how do you
honor emotional boundaries, developmental stages, level of
awareness, and proper timing. If you judge yourself for an
earlier parenting style or communication pattern, etc., it is
time to forgive yourself for “mistakes” in your unaware
past. As long as this relationship does not meet your highest
visions and desires it will be necessary to find appropriate
ways to get your needs met and grieve your disappointment,
anger, and depression about the relationship not being to your
liking. Your ultimate happiness must not depend on your grown
child meeting your needs or making you happy, because the
ultimate goal for you as a mature parent is to allow your
grown child to be an individual and to have the freedom of
living her life as she chooses.
(For simplicity sake I am using the feminine pronoun.
If the relationship you wish to heal is with your son,
simply substitute the appropriate pronoun.)
might like to do this healing exercise. Close your eyes and go
to your place of peace. Deep breathe and release pain and
tension. Visualize a rainbow bridge between you and your
daughter; see the two of you walking towards the center of the
bridge. Both of you are open and receptive to each other.
Express everything you wish you could say in person. Tell her
what your highest values and goals are for her and the
relationship. Listen as she expresses herself. See and feel
this vision actualizing now. Affirm this or something better
is being created. When finished, complete by hugging, shaking
hands, or bowing to each other. See each of you returning to
your own lives. Notice how you feel and if there is anything
you feel drawn to act upon.
that the seeds for a good relationship with your grown child
are planted and working out spiritually. In your everyday
life, however, you can only work from where each of you
currently is in awareness. One or both of you may need to grow
and heal emotionally before this good relationship can take
place. If mental illness, drug or alcohol addiction,
depression, rage, or an inability to look introspectively is
present, it could take a very long time. Remember your grown
child may have to heal their personal problems and go through
their lessons to be ready for a better relationship with you.
you have been on the journey to wholeness and have made many
changes in your awareness, then you may regret some of your
earlier influence that is now playing out. You may be overly
critical of self, feeling guilty for some of the ways you
parented and seeing where you made unaware choices, especially
if your grown child has problems managing her life. We all
wish at times that we were wiser and not simply repeating
familial patterns without even knowing it. Really, you would
have done better if you knew what you now know. Let go and
grieve. Again, forgive yourself.
is common to want to fix things and correct them, but that is
not how life works. We each have to heal ourselves when we
leave home. Now you have to wait for your grown child to enter
the healing journey and do the inner work necessary to change
and grow. You can continue to work on yourself and continue to
do the inner work in order to heal more. This does get passed
on to the other person, because you send out different
thoughts and feelings. You can, thus, temper your neediness or impatience, and
neutralize any charge your child can evoke from you.
must see that you only did what you could do at the time and
that these patterns of dysfunction have been handed down in
your family system for generations. You were only one link in
the chain; an important link because you began looking at and
healing some of the issues. Acknowledge yourself for the
healing and awareness that you have done. Continue your
process because you add healing to the family system with
every new insight you receive, especially when you can live
from your new place of awareness. Your grown child will
eventually benefit from your process. At the very least you
will know to change your part in the dance when you are
together until your child takes responsibility for her own
you are estranged from an adult child and if you have done a
lot of healing within yourself, it may be appropriate to open
the door for a better relationship.
It is important to know opening the door is an
invitation to the other person, not a guarantee they will walk
through it. You might even have to leave the door open for
many years before the other person reaches a place of maturity
from which they can build a positive relationship with you.
any case, it is not necessary for you to wait until your grown
child is ready before you heal together.
In fact, it really does not matter whether or not your
adult child understands that you are working on improving the
relationship. At some level, she will be aware that you are at
total peace with the relationship, having forgiven yourself
and her for any misperceptions, projections, painful actions,
false judgements or thoughts, or hurtful words.
healing requires no one except you to make changes. Changes in
attitude, perceptions, understanding, and interpretations are
an inner experience. It is a change in consciousness. Usually
there are observable outer signs in a person making shifts in
their consciousness: less body tension, less emotional
disturbances and reactions to events and people, compassion
for others, eye contact, respect, and interest in others when
they are talking, to name a few.
Notice how you are doing with these qualities.
must become a way of life for you, if you want to heal your
relationship with your grown child. Assume you are the main
character of your life much like in a movie or play. You are
also the scriptwriter, director, and casting director. Through
the eyes of your wise self, observe how you are doing
periodically, staying aware, and remembering that you have the
power to keep improving and striving for a healthier, happier
you live your day, you watch yourself.
Are you happy, sad, angry, hurt, giving to others,
doing your job, meeting your responsibilities, over-reacting
to others, and having fun? Notice what motivates you, what you
need and want. When you feel an incongruency between your
value system, goals, desires (which may also be transforming)
and your actions and responses to the outside world, take some
quiet time with yourself. Ask yourself what is going on. Be
totally honest with yourself and take total responsibility for
what you are feeling and doing. Vow to no longer simply live
from your automatic responses conditioned from your childhood
or from past trials and tribulations you have been through. In
fact nothing justifies staying a victim or being offended by
others; nor is hurting or victimizing another justified. You
are striving to live your life from a place of wholeness,
authenticity, balance, awareness, and with harmlessness.
your consciousness is a life-long process. As you live from
this inner place and continue to grow, it will be enough to
keep you busy until your grown child is ready to have a good
relationship with you. Practice all your awareness and
relating skills with every other relationship in your life—the
postman, the food checker, drivers on the freeway, your
friends, and other family members.
you find you are the one who has been hurtful, angry, or even
toxic in your past, it is important to look for positive ways
to say, “I’m sorry, I made a mistake.”
You cannot change what you did in the past; however,
you can own what you did that was not right. Do not underestimate what this can do for someone else’s
healing. It is never too late to begin expressing love in the
relationship. Many grown children feel wounded that their
parent never was able to say, “I Love You,” or compliment
them. If that was the case, then you can begin today with a
resolution to begin this affirming behavior. You might be
surprised how well it builds your new relationship.
takes time to rebuild if one has been hurt. It is good to
remember that just because you are actively healing; your
grown child may not have started yet or may not be as far
along in healing. If
you see your grown child carrying on the family lineage of
pain, whether it is alcoholism, poor parenting, or being
victimized, do not judge them.
Be like an oasis to a thirsty person in the desert.
Remember the oasis cannot come to the thirsty person; the
thirsty person must crawl to the oasis. Be there when your
grown child cries for help and is ready for true healing. You
can also be willing to talk about the past, go to some of your
grown child’s therapy sessions or just listen as she works
through feelings and issues.
always to stay on your path of healing when you want to have a
better relationship with your grown children. Practice love
and forgiveness daily. Hold your vision of a good relationship
and know it is unfolding with proper timing. When possible,
open communication. When topics come up about the past, be
able to say, “I’m sorry,” or how did that make you feel?”
or “What decisions did you make about life when you felt
that way?” Focus on being open and loving and in your adult,
rational self so as not to close communication by reacting to
your emotional triggers.
managing your own life, it is helpful to find people who do
want a relationship with you. As you open the door to a new
life, you will be so busy that you will not notice time as it
passes. Then the day your grown child walks through the door
wanting a good relationship with you, you will be ready.
you have the relationship you want with your grown children,
remember you can always improve a relationship. You may want
to begin talking at a deeper level about some of the topics
discussed here and take a risk to express more honestly with
each other. Evaluate your relationship together periodically
to see where each of you are and what may be shifting and
changing for one or both of you.
summary it is never too late to have a good relationship with
your grown child or any other person in your life. Begin with
yourself, healing your part of the dance in the relationship.
When your grown child is ready, you will be available with the
the following poem give you food for thought. It is from the
book The Prophet, by Kahlil Gibran.
Your children are
not your children.
They are the sons
and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through
you but not from you,
And though they
are with you, yet they belong
not to you.
You may give them
your love but not your thoughts,
For they have
their own thoughts.
You may house
their bodies but not their souls.
For their souls
dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit,
not even in your dreams.
You may strive to
be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not
backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows
from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees
the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you
with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending
in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He
loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also
the bow that is stable.