Many of the benefits parents reap at this stage result from the kids' more sharply honed communication skills. Compared with their younger selves, emerging adults are more likely to talk things over with their parents and peaceably process disagreements. Plus, they're better able to see the other person's point of view.
Their frontal cortex is ripening like fine wine, and that means improved judgment, less impulsivity and a greater likelihood they'll think before they speak. If conflict does start to escalate, dial it down by listening to them without interrupting and then commenting in a neutral tone.
When that's not possible, taking a time-out for both sides to calm down is as useful at this stage as it was during their toddler years. Sleeping on it or letting heated emotions cool is also as good a strategy to use with grown children as it is for any couple or close friends. Maybe you wish that your son's girlfriend had fewer tattoos or that your daughter's boyfriend had a better job.
But unless you notice behavior that's seriously disturbing, do your best to embrace the people your grown kids love. And when they do settle on a partner, accept that it follows naturally for them to put that person first. When it comes to big decisions, plans or handling hardships, even the most dutiful grown children will shift their primary attachment to their mate. If they don't, watch out: Marital trouble may follow. As parents, you're in the business of putting yourselves out of a job when your kids grow up, so nurture your own dreams while continuing to cultivate a close friendship with them.
Elizabeth Fishel is a widely published writer specializing in family issues and is the author of four nonfiction books. See the AARP home page for deals, savings tips, trivia and more. Members can take a free confidential hearing test by phone. You are leaving AARP.
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Set ground rules for how to disagree Many of the benefits parents reap at this stage result from the kids' more sharply honed communication skills. Make room for the significant others in their lives Maybe you wish that your son's girlfriend had fewer tattoos or that your daughter's boyfriend had a better job. Also of Interest Scary scam that targets grandparents 16 foods to live a long, healthy life Share your wisdom and experience — help a child learn to read See the AARP home page for deals, savings tips, trivia and more.
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