Getting Along Better with Your Adult Child

The goal of the Relationship Bridge Building Blog is to help people get along better with the important people in their lives, including themselves, at home and at work.

As humans we are social beings who require contact with others to survive. We are driven to form relationships with each other and to affiliate with people with whom we share common interests. This comes naturally. What doesn't alway come naturally is our ability to get along with those people in order to have harmonious relationships with the important people in our lives.

Today I spoke with a mother who wants a closer relationship with her 22 year-old daughter. The reason their relationship is strained is because this woman's daughter dropped out of college and the mother is hurt by this decision. She wants her daughter to finish, knowing this will be  better for her future.

The mother can't seem to stop herself from being angry and disappointed everytime she is around her daughter. She recognizes this attitude is creating a strain between them. I asked her if everything she was doing was working to get her the relationship she wanted with her daughter. She said no. Then she asked, "Don't I have a right to be hurt?"

Of course, she has a right to feel anything she feels. However, if she remembers all behavior is purposeful and feelings are one component of behavior, then the question is, what is she trying to get by feeling hurt? It became obvious, she is attempting to control her daughter with her emotions to get her to relent and go back to school. Of course, as a mother, she feels justified in these feelings and behavior.

I agreed with her. She has the right to do whatever she wants to do. But the question is, "Do you really want a better relationship with your daughter?" "Which is more important, being right or improving your relationship?" We didn't have to go any further. She understood how her behavior and inabilitiy to accept her daughter's decision was destroying their relationship.

Do you have a relationship in your life that could be better if you simply allowed the other person to make their own decision about their lives and supported those decisions?

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