Improving communication with adult children helps you better navigate the natural ebbs and flows of your relationship as you age. In the past, we have written about the importance of setting boundaries with aging parents. But, we haven’t yet written about how aging parents can better communicate with their loved ones. That ends today!
In this post, we’ll cover the basics of better communication with your adult children. And we’ll give you easy, organized feedback that you can put to work for immediate results. Sound good? Let’s get started!
Tip #1: Use Your Children’s Preferred Communication Methods
It has never been easier to communicate with the people around you. And yet, we often find ourselves frustrated when we can’t find quality time to talk to our adult children. Of course, you remember what it was like to juggle caring for a family, working, and also trying to find time to catch up with your loved ones.
Make sure that you find out how your adult children prefer to communicate. Listen to what they say but also observe them over time. Make note of which medium they most readily respond to. If you find they enjoy FaceTime calls or respond more quickly to texts or Facebook messages than traditional phone calls, we recommend communicating with them on those mediums.
Once you build a baseline of communication, you’ll find it easier to arrange a phone call and more solid catch-up time. Remember your children love you and want you to be a part of their life, even if they seem busy and distracted at times. The better you can fit into their daily rhythms, the more successful you’ll be at staying in touch!
If you need a little help with the technology to feel more comfortable before jumping in, ask your children to help! Or, connect with a community organization in your area – many offer introductory classes that can help you learn to text, navigate email and use social networks like Facebook.
Tip #2: Highlight Common Interests
One of the reasons you may struggle to connect with your adult children is because your interests may vary from theirs. But, we bet you still have a few things in common! Some topics that may get the conversation started could include television shows or books you’re reading. You could even ask them for their recommendations!
Perhaps you have common hobbies – maybe you both love animals or gardening? Or maybe you’re trying out a new exercise regimen and your child is a fitness buff with lots of advice to offer!
While it may seem silly at first to engage in what some may consider “small talk,” the truth is that we often let down our guard with family and forget they are individuals first. In doing so, we may fall into the same old pattern of communication over and over. Before you know it, you don’t have anything new or interesting to discuss and the conversation stalls.
One of our favorite tricks is to pretend that our loved one is a guest, instead of a familiar family member. That helps us shift our perspective (and our curiosity!) back into a better place so we can approach each contact with the idea that we are meeting someone new!
Tip #3: Be Wise When Sharing Your Wisdom
Now that you’re happily texting and face-timing your children while engaging them with common interests, it’s time for our very last tip….
BE WISE WHEN SHARING YOUR WISDOM.
We live in strange times. So much has changed over the decades and your adult children have different pressures and concerns than you did. Does that mean you don’t have helpful advice and wisdom to share? Of course not!
It simply means that in order to avoid the vicious cycle of offering advice and then having your feelings hurt when it’s not appreciated, it’s preferable to wait until you’re asked. (By the way, we tell them to listen to you, too!)
Remember that the entire purpose of improving communication with your adult children is to build trust and nurture your relationship. In doing so, they will seek out your advice naturally as they no doubt struggle with the obstacles life throws their way. And you’ll find that because you’ve worked so diligently on your communication in the past, your advice will resonate with them even more.
We hope you’ve find this post helpful. At CarePods, our goal is to help older adults age on their own terms in an environment of their choosing. And we hope that your adult children are a significant and important part of your life for years to come.