Bonding With Your Adult Children
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20 Ways to Bond With Your Adult Children

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Bonding With Your Adult Children
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Keeping Family Ties Tight

As children grow up and move out of the nest, it can often be perplexing for a parent to maintain a close relationship and strong bond with their adult child and avoid possible estrangement. The changing dynamics of the relationship often require forging new ways of relating and communicating. From finding new activities to participate in together to making a point to call your adult child regularly, here are tips from relationship experts across the country for maintaining a relationship with grown children.

Invite Them Over or Take Them Out for a Meal
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Invite Them Over or Take Them Out for a Meal

For most families, meals are the sacred time for bonding, says psychologist and life coach Ana Jovanovic of Parenting Pod. "There's no reason this tradition shouldn't continue once your child moves out of the house, gets married, or has their own kids," Jovanovic said. "Whether it's proposing to cook a Sunday meal, inviting them over for a dinner after work here and there, or meeting downtown for coffee and cheesecake, having a conversation over some good food is in most cases, a great way to bond."

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Make an Effort to Connect With Their Loved Ones
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Make an Effort to Connect With Their Loved Ones

In order to be able to stay in touch with your adult children, it's important that you get along well with their partners, says Jovanovic of Parenting Pod. "Invest time in getting to know them and bonding with them. Try to find shared interests, or topics that inspire you both. Knowing that their partner likes spending time with you, it will be easier to schedule the time to spend with a whole family." And whenever you invite your child over, let them know that their partner is welcome, too.

Share Your Favorite Memories with Them
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Share Your Favorite Memories with Them

Now that they're adults, hearing about your memories from childhood, college or the times when they were too young to remember anything will be far more interesting to them than in the past, Jovanovic says. "Allow them to get to know who you were before," Jovanovic explained. "This is likely to help them see a whole new side of you, which may give rise to new ideas on how to bond."

Sign Up for a Course or Workshop Together
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Sign Up for a Course or Workshop Together

Learning a new skill or a new language, or going to a meditative retreat together can help both parent and adult child share and learn about each other in an entirely new way. "Parents usually have the role of a mentor or a teacher. But in this case, you both have an opportunity to start learning something from level zero, helping each other get better," Jovanovic said.

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Consult Them on Decisions You Make
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Consult Them on Decisions You Make

Even if you can't help but see a 3-year-old in your 30-year-old child, it's important to find a way to acknowledge that they are now an adult. What's more, they're an adult who has certain skills and experience that can be quite helpful to you in times when you're struggling with a decision, Jovanovic says. "Reversing the roles and asking your child for advice can be a step forward in your relationship," Jovanovic noted.

Create Something Together
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Create Something Together

A DIY project with your child, a new garden, or a home decoration can be a great creative outlet and a bonding experience. "Taking an afternoon or a day off to enjoy creating something together, working as a team, can help improve communication and understanding," Jovanovic said. "Also, it gives you something cool to brag about on social media."

Related: 10 DIY Projects That Are Easier Than You Think

Best Flower Delivery Services
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Celebrate Their Important Days

Almost everyone knows your child's birthday. But not everyone knows the anniversary of your child's first step, or their first baseball championship, or other significant milestones in their life. "Whenever you think of an important day of their lives, note it and remember to do something special on it. Sending flowers, writing a letter, having coffee with them, or booking a trip — it doesn't matter what you do. The point is that you show them how much you care," Jovanovic said.

Don't Guilt Them into Seeing You
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Don't Guilt Them into Seeing You

If they're too busy and barely have time to plan anything for themselves, don't add more pressure to their lives by guilting them to visit you, Jovanovic says. It may be hard as a parent when you miss your child and you're not able to see them as often as you'd like. However, making them feel guilty for not devoting enough time to you is unlikely to bring them closer. "Instead, it's likely to make them feel that they have yet another obligation to handle," Jovanovic said. "Do your best to be understanding and let them know you care about them, love them, and think of them no matter how often they're ready to visit." The quality of the relationship means more than the number of hours you spend together.

Volunteer Together for a Cause Your Child Believes In
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Volunteer Together for a Cause Your Child Believes In

Joining efforts to contribute to a higher-purpose goal can be a great opportunity to share a wonderful bonding experience with your child. "Try to focus on causes your child believes in," Jovanovic suggested. "Having you there to contribute to the initiative they are participating in is a great way to support them and to show appreciation for what they do."

Travel Together
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Travel Together

Discovering new places and going on new adventures together can help strengthen the parent-child relationship. "New experiences tend to bring fresh perspectives to relationships," Jovanovic said. "Trips allow you a lot of time to think and talk, without daily nuisances to interrupt you. You can choose to make a whole new tradition out of traveling together — your trips can be a way to celebrate your relationship. You can choose places that you both feel enthusiastic about or emotionally connected to."

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Share Books You Read or Get Book Recommendations
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Share Books You Read or Get Book Recommendations

Sharing books or asking an adult child for reading recommendations can help you connect on topics you both enjoy. "Books are great discussion-starters. Since we choose books based on our interests, preferences, values, and needs, reading books that your child is interested in may shed some light on the reasons behind their choices," Jovanovic said. "This can help you better understand them."

Watch Movies Together
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Watch Movies Together

Whether it's revisiting some of the oldies or going to a theater to see a new release, movies are always a good idea — especially if you select them based on each other's interests, Jovanovic says. "Just like books, movies are great discussion-starters," she said.

Participate in a Challenge Together
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Participate in a Challenge Together

The challenge could be running a 5K, eating healthy for a week or visiting the top 10 cities on your bucket list. The experience of sharing the same goal can be a very gratifying experience, Jovanovic says. "You can better learn how to support and encourage each other and, at the same time, have lots of fun," Jovanovic said.

Get Outside With Them
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Get Outside With Them

Go for a hike, bike ride, picnic, play Frisbee, football or soccer. "This allows you to be actively engaged in something while still providing an opportunity to talk," said Lesli Doares, a marriage coach and relationship expert with Foundations Coaching. "You can use what you're seeing and experiencing to find out more about each other. When you share new experiences with someone, oxytocin (the bonding hormone) gets released."

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Share Your Traditions
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Share Your Traditions

Explain to your adult children how some of your important family traditions got started, and if the traditions involve food, give them the recipes or teach them how to make the food, says Doares, of Foundations Coaching. "Traditions remind them of what matters and what they could count on growing up. Knowing how each was chosen deepens their bond with it. The same is true of food. Cooking something special together is a way to ensure that it gets continued as they move on in their lives. It connects them to home and you are a part of that."

Share Your Family History and Send Them Stories of Their Relatives
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Share Your Family History and Send Them Stories of Their Relatives

Learning about where they come from and the joys and challenges that their relatives experienced gives an adult child a sense of community and an understanding of how they got here, Doares says. "It can help them see where they got their nose or ease with languages. It builds a bond because all of this came through you," Doares said.

Schedule a Regular Dinner and Game Night
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Schedule a Regular Dinner and Game Night

Whether it's once a month or once a quarter, having a recurring get-together with your adult child helps maintain your connection through a fun activity, one that provides an opportunity to talk to each other at the same time, Doares says. "Because you're doing something, it allows each of you to catch up, discover new things, ask questions without anyone feeling like they're under a microscope," she explained. "If things get too close, attention can easily be returned to the game."

Attend Religious Services with Your Adult Child
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Attend Religious Services with Your Adult Child

Participating in religious services with your adult child, if you have a shared faith, can also be very bonding, says Wyatt Fisher, a licensed psychologist and founder of Marriage Counseling Boulder. "Some of the bonding that can occur by attending a religious service together can be hearing the same message together, discussing it, and sharing a meal together afterwards," Fisher said.

Call Them at Least Once a Week
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Call Them at Least Once a Week

Regular phone calls help to show your adult child that you care about their life, Fisher says. "When talking to them ... follow up on specifics in their life, such as their work, friendships, marriage, to show you're interested in their life," Fisher explained. "Be supportive and empathic with any struggles they express and only provide advice if they ask for it."

Go to a Sports or Arts Event Together
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Go to a Sports or Arts Event Together

Whether it's a baseball game, a concert, a theatrical show or even a movie, going to an event with your adult child gives you something to look forward to and to enjoy together, says Sharon Saline, author of the book "What your ADHD Child Wishes You Knew." "Plus, afterwards, you have something to talk about," explained Saline, who also recommends going to an art, science or history museum with your adult child. "These activities give people of all ages an opportunity to learn things, perhaps share an interest with each other and also promote conversation," Saline said.