caucasian man and adult son playing chess and laughing

The more often you talk to your adult kids about everyday things, the easier it will be to talk about difficult things when the time comes.


When your children are young, there are all kinds of resources at your fingertips to help you communicate with them. Countless magazines and Web sites are devoted, at least in part, to the art of talking to your kids -- how to teach them responsibility, how to help them express their feelings, how to get them to eat vegetables. You also might spend a lot of time on the playground swapping war stories with other young parents. Same goes for parents of teenagers: There's certainly no lack of information (and commiseration) out there for trying to deal with surly adolescents. But around the time your kids fly the coop, all this advice -- all this communication about communication -- suddenly disappears.

So what's the parent of an adult child to do? Your child might not be physically with you anymore, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't stay connected. And even though your little kid is now an adult with sophisticated communication skills, relationships can still be difficult to navigate. Everyone can struggle with figuring out this new dynamic. How do you strike a balance between being a friend and a mentor to your child? How do you give advice to an adult without coming off like a dictator?

The key for parents is to talk WITH your children -- not at them. Read on for some suggestions on how to initiate and maintain healthy communication with your adult kids.