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"Kids these days…." Communicating Effectively with Adult Children

How many of our parents said this about us? They accused us of being entitled, for having things given to us without our having to earn them. And yet we figured it out, this thing called “life.” We learned that sometimes there are consequences for our actions, life is hard, we made mistakes, we discovered that some senseless traditions had merit, working hard pays off, and respecting your elders is wise.

So it is no surprise when parents of adult children are exasperated and saying “Kids these days...” Besides getting an attitude of “this too shall pass,” what can parents do to cope with recalcitrant adult children. Here are some tools I would suggest:

1. Stop and breathe.

Stay calm. Think. Adopt the rational attitude of allowing this independent thinking adult child of yours to make mistakes without your negative judgment.

2. Encourage, support, listen.

Let them know that you want what is best. Seek first to understand their perspective. Just listen without giving a solution to their problem. When you think you understand, give feedback stating their perspective perhaps in words better than they expressed. Do not move past this step until you get acknowledgment that you understand their position completely.

3. Discuss.

Finally, you can have a rational discussion on strategy, tactics, and cause and effects of certain decisions.

These are just a few basics of my suggestions on how to deal with adult children. Please let me know how you deal with adult children or someone else’s children in your companies. If you want to discuss your situation, I invite you to contact me.


Doug Wilder

(“Adult-Child-as-Employee Whisperer”)


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