When Parents Hurt
And just as the author admits he was wrong about parental and child conflict, I will admit that I was wrong to initially dismiss the book without giving it a chance. It is chockfull of information for those parents who do not get along with their grown children and offers concrete advice on how to cope and change the destructive child-parent interaction to a postive one. There is a chapter on the "Brave New Parent of the Twenty-First Century" where the author describes the burdens parents are facing today. One of these burdens is that parents have now become more responsible for entertaining their children because of the decline of extended families, the scarcity of places for kids to play and the blaring media news on the dangers of outside play. "..the claim 'I'm bored,' rather than being a statement about subjective experience, ends up being a statement about the parent's adequacy and worth. Children can now judge parents by how well they provide opportunities and therefore, how deserving they are of the child's love and respect." And even if you are a parent who ignores this type of behavior and doesn't play the game, the society, schools, and even churches etc. often reinforce the notion that parents are responsible for their kid's happiness. Kids take it to heart and blame parents for any shortcomings.
My favorite chapter in the book is one entitled, "Where Did This Kid Come From? Mismatches Between Parent and Child." Coleman lays out the different types of parents and kids and gives guidelines on how to deal with each type. For example, if you are a high-achieving parent raising or interacting with a low-achieving child, he says to avoid making all or most of your interactions about grades, college, or career, avoid expressing a lot of worry or "concern" especially if your child is clearly turned off by it, avoid micromanaging and tells you how to become a consultant rather than a manager as your child gets older.
Although, I do not agree with all of the advice given, if you are a parent who has an older teen or adult child who has dismissed you, dissed you, or just plain written you off, this book gives some good ideas on how to cope, for even if you can't get your relationship back on track, the book gives some good strategies on how to help yourself move on from the pain of being shut out of your grown child's life.
At the risk of sounding like Jerry Springer here, or worse, Oprah, if you are going through problems with your grown adult child and have any words of wisdom for other readers, drop a line in the comments.