Coordinating the Relationship Between Aging Parents and Adult Children

Coordinating the Relationship Between Aging Parents and Adult Children

It is common for adult children to face a wide range of problems when they are dealing with elderly parents. This is primarily due to the reversal of the parent-child relationship. As young children, your parents are who you relied on to tell you right from wrong, to make decisions for you and to protect you. As children become young adults, their relationship to their parents became “different”. You still turned to your parents, but more for support and guidance. Never do children imagine or expect that one day they would be the parent to their parent. One of the most difficult struggles with this reversal of parenting is coordinating the relationship towards a positive experience.

Focus on the Positive

As parents lose their close emotional relationship with their adult children, who have formed diverse relationships with their own children, it often results in a negative outcome. It is essential, however, for both the aging parent and the adult child to reduce the negative features and focus on more healthy, positive features of the relationship. With patience and understanding learning how to maintain a healthy, respectful relationship with your aging parent possible.

Maintaining a Healthy Relationship

It’s a given that you love your parents, but at times, maintaining the bond between an adult child and their aging parent can be challenging. It is important to keep in mind that both of you are confronting new challenges. While it’s to be expected that these changes will affect your relationship, it is essential to keep in mind that as you both change, your relationship must also change. Part of the changes in forging this new relationship includes forming a bond between mature adults instead of the parent-child bond relationship. You both already have the basics-shared memories and your love for each other, so when you add in mutual respect and common interests, you can find a more fulfilling relationship with your parents.  Some healthy ways to forge an adult relationship with parents and enhance a strong bond may include:

  • Rediscovering and sharing mutual interests
  • Being honest about who you are and what you want from the relationship
  • Look for common activities
  • Do not allow aging parents to channel guilt
  • Expect and encourage independence for both you and your parent

Studies have shown that the majority of parents and their adult children experience aggravation and tension with each other, but the parent-child relationship continues to be one of the longest lasting forms of social ties that humans establish. Regardless of the feelings of tension, ambivalence and irritation, the tie between aging parents and adult children is typically more supportive and positive than negative.


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