How Your Relationship With Your Parents Changes in Your 20s

multigenerational family in warm clothes enjoying celebration dinner together outdoors

Moving into your 20s means a lot of good things are coming your way: freedom, financial independence and the start of your adult life. This increased space to explore the world means your dynamics with your parents may change. You’re not riding in the backseat of the minivan to soccer practice anymore, but driving cross-country to see mom and dad for the holidays. 

Maintaining and strengthening the relationship with your parents in your 20s is another part of growing. The shift in dynamics can be challenging at first, but preparing for a new type of relationship will let your connection flourish in new ways.

1. Adjust Expectations

Your new age brings a new outlook on life. Angsty teenage years may have cast a somewhat negative glow on your parents, but time lends a chance to understand that mom and dad are human, too. They felt moments of stress and confusion just like you are now. 

Realizing they are complex people with flaws is vital to having a nuanced and strong relationship. Give grace and understanding to your parents here. 

2. Give and Receive Advice

Your parents offered their hearts and minds to you for 20 years. Now you can start to return the favor. As mutual adults, parents and their children have experiences to share. Maybe your mother needs a listening ear for a difficult situation at work, or your dad asks for some help with the yard. Take some time to show you care and lend a helping hand. 

This aid also extends to health matters. While you’re calling in your own doctor appointments now, you can also keep an eye on your parent’s health, whether physical or mental. Become acquainted with certain warning signs so you both are well-equipped to deal with any medical emergencies or developments. Extreme weight loss, a cluttered house and a change in mood are all things to look out for as your parents grow older.  

3. Set Boundaries

Outlining the parameters and expectations of the relationship is a great way to strengthen communication. It can be hard to let go of the co-dependency that parenting brings. For years you depended on them to feed, clothe and house you, and now you have adopted these responsibilities yourself. Have a conversation with your parents about your new duties and where they fit in. For example, if you are having a hard time discovering recipes and cooking for yourself, your parents could share time-honored recipes and offer to host Friday night dinners. 

Everyday chores for laundry, dishes and cleaning should not be a part of parents’ duties. Some may want to take over these jobs in fear of an empty nest and moving on from parenthood that dominated their life until you moved out. Give them the opportunity to adjust while also being clear in their role. 

Being honest about life goals and feelings allows both parties to feel supported and able to grow into adulthood or their golden years. 

4. Schedule Time Together

In a way, it is sad to know that you won’t see your family every day. Waking up to the smells of Saturday morning pancakes or helping your dad shovel the driveway isn’t a part of daily life anymore. Therefore, schedule time to spend together to maintain the bonds you built over the years and stay present in each other’s lives. 

What hobbies can you enjoy together and what new activities can you try? Mini-golfing, apple picking, baking, watching movies and even just walking around the neighborhood are great ways to spend time with your parents.

Though talking isn’t as easy as walking down the hallway anymore, planned time together enforces a sense of play and fun in your relationship that will last a lifetime. Remember, your parents are only a phone call away. 

Navigating a New Relationship With Your Parents

Growing into adulthood comes with unique challenges, but interacting with your parents doesn’t have to be one of them. Set clear expectations and boundaries, give help when you can and schedule moments to relish each other’s company. Cultivating a relationship of love and mutual respect is the key to a great future for your family.

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