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How to Restore Relationships With Young Adults


father and young adult son playing chess

By the time your child becomes a young adult, inevitably you’ve gone through moments where you don’t see eye to eye. No matter how you’ve handled things in the past, you can begin from where you are to build a respectful, honest, and open relationship with your child going forward. There are no magic formulas, but these tips can help.

You can start from this point forward to build a respectful and strong relationship with your young adult child, no matter what arguments you’ve had. Here are three helpful tips.

1. Model healthy behaviour

Attitudes and actions are both taught and caught from a young age into adulthood. Modelling responsible use of alcohol is an important way to influence your child’s own use as they become young adults. Drinking too much, too often or in risky ways can send the message that these behaviours are normal and acceptable.

Restoring the relationship: Practise healthy self-reflection in order to explore the discrepancies between what you say you want for your family versus what you’re actually doing. This is a critical step in beginning to change your own behaviour. The aim is to identify possible reasons to change. When you know and are convinced of the reasons to change, you can usually find a way.

2. Nurture open communication

Even as your child becomes a young adult, open communication is imperative to ensure your child feels accepted and valued. The goal is a two-way exchange in which your child can share their thoughts and feelings and come to understand yours. Lecturing or ridiculing ideas you don’t like may make your child reluctant to share their thoughts and feelings with you.

Restoring the relationship: When you catch yourself lecturing or making a critical comment, apologize to your child and admit that you made a mistake. Then, give them the chance to express how they feel. Saying you slipped up shows that you respect your child and helps build the collaborative nature of the relationship.

3. Encourage active collaboration

Young adults need support as they struggle with issues such as alcohol and other drug use. Nurturing active collaboration helps your child build the ability to think through issues and find solutions on their own without undermining their own self-efficacy and resilience by imposing your solutions or perspective.

Restoring the relationship: You don’t need to be the expert in resolving issues. Carefully listen to what your child is saying and work with their strengths, to find ways to help them find solutions. This helps build a two-way style of interaction and nurtures their sense of self-worth. By taking this approach, you’re helping them grow their capacity to make good decisions and address challenges in the future.

Resources & Links:

HealthLink BC: Helping Your Child Build Inner Strength
Here to Help: The Road Ahead: A Guidebook for Parents of Young Teens about Alcohol and Other Drugs

Last Updated: March 31, 2015