“Honor thy father and thy mother,” -The Ten Commandments
How to handle your adult children’s disapproval is a tough area to discuss.
Estranged relationships between an adult child and parent are almost always skewed but if I were to pick one reason for an adult child’s disapproval of their parent(s), I would use the word, expectation.
My thoughts below are from my experiences; listening to friends and acquaintances, reading books on estrangement, and living through my own set of problems. You can read more about my personal experiences here.
There is a multitude of reasons that adult children disapprove of a parent’s actions. It could be a daughter-in-law, mother-in-law, or son-in-law problem. Or it could be the loss of a parent from divorce or death, the remarriage of the mother, an adult child’s mental illness problems, or as is often the case in this day and age, “I don’t feel comfortable having a relationship with my mother so I am going to estrange myself from her instead of communicating my feelings. It is an easier path.”
I must emphasize this, dear reader, it is not because you were a bad mother.
Many adult children do not feel their parents are living up to “their expectations” and they become bitter, jaded, or just decide it is easier to disengage. Bitter is a word I never use, and it is the first time in my writing I have put the word in a story. The word bitter means resentful, aggrieved, begrudging, spiteful, petulant, with a chip on one’s shoulder.
So, how does a loving mother handle their adult children’s disapproval?
The Worse Case Scenario
For starters, it takes two to tango.
If your adult children have broken off contact with you, and you have tried repeatedly to rekindle the relationship with no success, my advice can be summed up in one word. Accept what you cannot change.
Unfortunately, you have no choice when one or more adult children disapprove of you. They become so bitter, they no longer see the forest from the trees. This adult child does not know how to express anger, a common emotion. Sometimes, even though they are ‘our children,’ their actions are unforgivable. In rare cases they eventually turn the table on themselves, losing their parent’s respect.
Decide to Live Life
In parent child relationships, where you can’t control the outcome, I suggest you decide to live your own life to its fullest. Let your adult children carry the burden of bitterness on their shoulders. Shame on them, not shame on you. Even with this surround yourselves with loving friends, interesting acquaintances, family members you enjoy, and activities that spark your interests. This is the sobering truth: adult children who do not talk to their parents is epidemic in the United States. There are so many of us living life as a rejected mother.
If you are dealing with adult child estrangement, please come join my private Facebook group. Click here to join Estranged Mothers and Grandmothers: Millions Strong.
Other Types of Adult Children’s Disapproval and What To Do With High Expectations.
Adult children’s disapproval comes in a variety of flavors.
- They don’t like the way you spend ‘your’ money.
- You remarried and they aren’t happy about it.
- They don’t like your spouse or significant other.
- It upsets them that you are not at their beck-and-call to babysit.
- You should not have said this or done that.
- They are jealous of your lifestyle.
These situations and more create a major disruption in the relationship between a mother and their immature and sometimes bitter, adult child or children. With adult children’s disapproval, everyone loses, especially innocent grandchildren.
Adult Children’s Disapproval: The Saving Grace
Smile, dear reader, for there is a saving grace. The saving grace is communication. Unfortunately, it often does not work because the estranged child will not communicate. Most situations are solvable if parents and disapproving adult children can talk. So, my darlings, you are the parent, and you must be prepared to be vulnerable first. The best way to begin the conversation with these disapproving adult children is to say, “I want to listen to you. I am here to hear you.” And follow it with this: “I acknowledge we have a problem and I want to solve it, together.”
What To Do When You Are At Fault
We have invested our love, our time, our resources and all of our emotions in raising our children. But many parents cannot let go and do overstep their boundaries. They butt into their adult children’s lives. Though it is hard, remember that this is a no-no!
Darlings, as your children reach adulthood you must keep respectful boundaries. I suggest you keep your comments to yourself. One gets a lot further with honey than vinegar.
Don’t pick on your adult children or their spouses. You shouldn’t try to rearrange the furniture in their living room! Definitely don’t tell them how to raise their children.
Adult Children: Give Them Wings
When one of my daughters left for college as a young adult, she gave me a framed poster (that I have in my memory drawer) that reads: “You gave me my roots, now my wings.”
Darlings, please don’t have faulty expectations of your estranged adult children. Let your adult children live their lives by their set of rules, let them fly.
I hope my musings have set a realistic tone. If an estranged child’s expectations of you as a mother is skewed you have the choice to wallow in self-pity or reward yourself with the knowledge that you are a good mother, remembering you do not have the power to change their feelings yet remaining hopeful they will return home.
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If you are in the throes of adult child estrangement, I hope you’ll seek out support and community.
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