Cited in PBS Next Avenue – How to Keep Calls Going with Grown Kids

logoHaving adult children is a great blessing, and yet keeping up lines of communication with them can sometimes be challenging. Linda Bernstein compiled a sensitive and practical guide that addresses ways to keep calls going with grown kids.  So how can you strengthen your communication with your adult child and keep calls going strong? Here are a few of the thoughts I contributed:

“Turns out, many parents who can claim amiable relations with their adult children feel the same way I do. Alicia H. Clark, a clinical psychologist located in Washington, D.C., says that boomers in her practice continually worry about whether they’re communicating well with their kids.

“A lot of the time, they’re not,” Clark says. “Parents ask the wrong kinds of questions, ones that their children, rightfully or not, feel are too invasive. The conversation can become strained, and the atmosphere can get tense and unpleasant.”

“We don’t grill our friends. People in relationships don’t cross-examine each other. If we want good relationships with our grown children, then we should lay off all the probing if they show they don’t like it,” she explains. A few questions are OK, especially if you’re referring to recent happenings in their lives. “What happened with ____” (fill in the blank with anything your child mentioned last time you spoke) can be part of the ebb and flow of a conversation”

Cut the criticism. “Hi. I haven’t heard from you for a while” is a terrible way to start a conversation, says Clark. So is something like, “Have you been late to work again since that time last week?”

“Much better openers would be along the lines of, “Did you do anything interesting over the weekend?” or a simple statement like “You seem pretty busy lately.”

“Show genuine interest. “When you speak with your adult children, listen to what they say,” advises Clark. Don’t change the subject, and don’t immediately delve into a rant about what you think.”

“If your child is complaining about a boss or co-worker, an appropriate response would be, “That sounds so difficult. What are you doing about it?”

“Before giving advice, or even telling a story about something similar that happened to you or someone you know, ask your child, “Do you want me to tell you what I think you should do?”

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Alicia H. Clark, PsyD