When exactly do our children become adults? Is it when they choose a life partner? Have children of their own? Or do we always see them as some kind of hybrid of the child they once were mixed with the adult they are now? Learning how to “parent” your children when they’re all grown up can be a tricky but essential process. Here are some of our top suggestions for forging a healthy, happy and positive relationship with your adult children for the long term.

1. Take a step back and appreciate them as individuals

It’s important to look beyond your shared history and nostalgia and recognize your children as the competent adults they’ve become. Treat them like you would any other adult in your life that you are close with. It may seem a bit strange at first but you’d be amazed at how much we often take for granted about our sons and daughters.

2. Acknowledge any “sticky” situations

Every parent will have a collection of incidents that have occurred in the past as they’ve parented their children. The majority will be minor but if there are particular sticky points in your past, regardless of whether they are directly involving you or a broader situation, it’s important to address them. Sometimes, for deeper issues, a counsellor or psychologist might be helpful.

3. Accept that things don’t always turn out the way you expected

We all know the saying about “best laid plans”. While you may have wanted nothing more for your children than for them to be happy and secure in their adult life, they may have a different recollection and feel the weight of expectation. Whether it’s around career choices, living situation, choice of partner or their sexuality, our adult children can sometimes live under the impression that they’ve let you down in choosing a different path. It’s important to dispel this myth and reiterate your love and support as quickly and frequently as possible.

This article was written in partnership with Over60.