Therapist Shares 10 Things Adult Children Desperately Want To Hear From Their Parents

Working toward repair has no age limit or timeline.

older mom and adult daughter fizkes / Shutterstock

Nedra Glover Tawwab is a therapist who specializes in relationships and boundaries.

She offered insight on how parents can have healthy relationships with their adult children, noting that “We are not entitled to healthy relationships without doing the work required.”

The therapist shared 10 things adult children want to hear from their parents:

1. ‘I didn’t know what you needed. What can I do now?’

Repair is a huge part of any relationship and is especially important for parents and their adult children.


Harm can be caused even when it’s not purposeful, like when a parent doesn’t know or understand what kind of support their kid needs.

One element of healing a relationship is acknowledging mistakes made, even in good faith. When parents take accountability for their actions, their children can then decide how to move forward.

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2. ‘I was in survival mode.’

Trauma can lead people to live in a constant state of fight, flight, or freeze. Being in survival mode often means people don’t have the tools they need to be present or emotionally supportive.


Survival mode can show up in various ways.

When someone is stuck in survival mode, they often feel exhausted and stressed, with little to no relief. They might seem overwhelmed by their own emotions, snapping easily between anger and sadness, or seem like they’re emotionally numb.

Taking care of basic needs becomes a struggle, yet it’s hard to accept help from others.


Being in survival mode has a direct effect on relationships. When a parent is able to acknowledge the place they were in, their children gain a better understanding of why their childhood was what it was.

3. ‘Do you want advice, or would you prefer I just listen?’

When we decide to vent our emotions to those around us, we want space to be heard, not necessarily to be told what to do next.

Parents are accustomed to guiding their children through the world’s challenges, yet by the time those children reach adulthood, they sometimes have a hard time hearing their parents’ advice.

By asking which role to take on, that of actively giving advice or just listening, a parent can offer their child what they need at that moment.

@goal.cast Listening is the art of of understanding the meaning behind those words. #simonsinek #communication #listening #howtolisten ♬ original sound - Goalcast

4. ‘Even when you upset me, I still love you.’

So much of the way we relate to the world around us starts with our relationships with our primary caregivers. Our attachment styles and how we connect to people as we grow older are rooted in the ways our parents related to us in our formative years.

Insecure attachment styles often arise when people are provided only conditional love instead of the unconditional love and understanding that all humans deserve.

family embracing August de Richelieu / Pexels


Children want to know that their parents will always love them, even when they mess up. Parents model the idea of grace and repair by allowing their kids space to make mistakes.

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5. ‘I didn’t handle that well. Let me try again.’

Sometimes, our emotions get the better of us, especially when we find ourselves in a disagreement with our parents.

Repairing relationships comes in many forms, one of which is allowing people to course-correct when they realize they’re not showing up as their best selves.

@ask.courtney Replying to @hspickard No parent is perfect but we can repair and make progress #parenting #parentingtips #parentsoftiktok #teens #advice #therapy ♬ original sound - Courtney | Trauma Informed

6. ‘You’re right.’

Admitting when we’re wrong is never easy, and it can be especially difficult for parents to own their decisions, especially when they might not have been the best decisions for their children.


When parents recognize that their children are right, it creates a sense of balance and allows their adult children to maintain a sense of autonomy in the relationship.

7. ‘I want you to find out what works best for you.’

While parents are used to their children relying on them to make major life decisions, at some point, their children have to decide how they want to live for themselves.


Parenting truth: Our kids’ feelings need support, not solutions.Try this: Next time your child is having a hard time, say, "I hear you", "That stinks" or "I'm so glad you’re sharing that with me" instead of allowing your fixing / advice / solution voice to take over. I think you’ll be amazed by what happens next.

♬ original sound - Dr. Becky | Psychologist

Adult children don’t always have to do things the way their parents did. We all have different paths, and no two journeys are the same. 


Just because a choice worked for you doesn't mean it will work for your kids. Giving kids the opportunity to take risks and build up their intuition as they grow goes a long way.

8. ‘Thank you.’

Just as parents want their kids to appreciate the effort they put into parenting, their kids want to be acknowledged for their existence, as well.

Learning how to relate to each other in adulthood can prove challenging, but when parents and their grown kids work to see each other and respect each other, a fulfilling relationship can bloom.


9. ‘I’m proud of you.’

Much like the expression of unconditional love, adult children — all children, really — want to know that their parents support them and are proud of them.

While expressing emotions might not come easily to many parents, learning how to be vulnerable and sharing how much you appreciate your kids’ presence holds huge value for both your kids and yourself.

mom and daughter baking cookies Elena Fairytale / Pexels


10. ‘I enjoy your company.’

When parents and their children do the emotional labor to heal their past relationships, it allows for their present relationship to be truly enjoyable for both parties.

As Tawwab noted, “A healthy adult child and parent relationship takes work and is a gift.”

It’s never too late to work on repair, even if you feel like hope for connection is lost. Taking small steps toward actionable change is the best way to heal a damaged relationship and make space for a future together. 

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Alexandra Blogier is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team. She covers social issues, pop culture analysis and all things to do with the entertainment industry.