“No one, however powerful and successful, can function as an adult if his parents are not satisfied with him.” ~ Frank Pittman
Do you have adult children from whom you are estranged, or with whom you would like a closer relationship? If so, the following pointers could help you to turn things around.
If you have done things that are hurtful to your adult child, either in recent years or when he/she was a child, apologize. Without an apology, children are left thinking that you meant to hurt them, think the behavior was okay, or do not care about their feelings.
Recognize that even though they are grown, what they need from you is unconditional love, support and validation. If you criticize them, they think you feel they are unworthy, no matter how much positive feedback you have given them in other areas. Further, criticism puts them back into the role of the child, and most adults resent that. It is especially damaging to criticize how they are raising their children (unless of course there is abuse or neglect).
Do not talk behind their backs. You are the parent, and your children deserve your loyalty. Especially do not speak badly of them to their siblings, and let all your children know that you will not participate in gossip about the others.
Do not burden your children with all of your tales of woe, especially problems with your spouse. They are your children, not counselors. Of course if you are very ill, or have suffered a loss, that is different, and they can, and should support you.
Let them know you love them. This is particularly important if you have never told them so. You might assume that they know, but I have worked with many adults over the years who lament the fact that they never heard those words from a parent.
About now some of you may be thinking this seems one-sided, with all the responsibility for improving the relationship falling to the parent. You may be thinking that you have been hurt too, and that all of the above should apply to the child as well. That may be true.
However, we cannot control others, only ourselves. As parents we can, and should take the high road. Doing so sets a good example for our children, and communicates that the relationship is more important than keeping score.