DEAR HARRIETTE: I feel like my adult kids are losing respect for me. When your kids are young, they look up to you for everything and trust in you. My kids are all of college age and older. They are leaving the nest and not looking back. They throw their childhood bad memories at me, saying that I was manipulative and a liar. But as parents, we know what it's like when your kids throw a tantrum, or when they get into trouble as a teenager and just won’t listen. I did what I needed to do to raise smart, strong kids, and I feel like I succeeded. All I want now is to enjoy a mature adult relationship with my kids, but they want nothing to do with me. I feel like I gave my life to them, and now I am hated and alone. Was I a bad mother? -- Miss My Kids
DEAR MISS MY KIDS: I’m so sorry that you are experiencing this break with your adult children. It sounds incredibly painful. To get past it, you may have to create space to let your children speak freely about whatever is bothering them. Clearly something happened that left a negative impression on your children. Whatever your intentions were, at this moment, your parenting style has left your children with a bad taste in their mouths.
Invite them, individually or together, to talk to you. Tell them that you hear them saying that you hurt them, and you want to know more. Promise that you will listen. Do your best to hear what they have to say. Do not make excuses as they talk. Be quiet. If you hear something that sounds legitimately off about your behavior, apologize. When it’s your time to talk, admit that you know you weren’t a perfect mom, but you did your best to give them the tools to succeed. Tell them that you want to cultivate a relationship with them. Ask if you can start fresh. It may take time, but don’t give up.