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What to do if an adult child calls you toxic

While we may not expect any Parent of the Year awards for the decades we spent raising kids, most of us believe we did a good job. But sometimes our adult children feel differently, blaming their disappointments on what we did — or didn’t do — as parents.

In extreme cases, some even label their parents “toxic” and cut off contact. The level of estrangement can range from bypassing family events to a total information blackout. One of the most traumatic situations is when adult kids won’t allow parents to visit with grandchildren.

How to Avoid Inheritance Fights Among Your Adult Kids

Adult siblings gather round a conference table in a lawyer’s office, arguing bitterly over an inheritance. “We never thought this would happen to our family,” one comments. It’s a scene that Michigan estate attorney P. Mark Accettura has witnessed repeatedly. He has seen so many families ripped apart by feuds over a will that he wrote a book, Blood & Money, on how to avoid them.

While money may appear to be the cause of family fights, it’s usually about much more than that, Accettura says. “Money is how we keep score of who’s important in the fight for the intangibles of love, approval and primordial survival.”

How to Manage Your Boomerang Kids

Overheard at the gym: “I’m selling my house. It’s the only way I can get my son to move out and make sure the others don’t try to move back.” Apparently a boomer was downsizing sooner than planned because his 20-something son had become a squatter of sorts. The house was up for sale, and the couple was moving to a one-bedroom condo.

Many other parents share the crowded-nest problem. A 2015 survey found that almost 40 percent of young Americans are living with parents, siblings or other relatives, the highest percentage in 75 years.

Some parents expect and welcome the post-college sojourn for up to a year while the new grad finds a job and saves money to move out. The problems occur when a young adult refuses to leave or returns home with no game plan.

What can parents do in these situations? We chatted with Kim Abraham, a therapist in Grand Blanc, Mich., and coauthor of The Whipped Parent. Abraham takes a tough-love approach, with the belief that it’s a privilege — not a right — for children to live at home after age 18.

How to Build Trust with Your Adult Kids

A friend says that when her adult children ask her for holiday gift suggestions, she tells them, “I want you. I want you to keep coming around, to bring your kids around. I want you to ask me questions, ask my advice, tell me your problems.”

That’s the wish of many parents, but it’s not so easy to influence and remain emotionally close to our adult children when they are living on their own. Ron Edmondson, pastor of the Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington, Ky., often advises parents on how to relate to their older kids. He offers several suggestions for how parents might build trust and stay relevant in their children’s lives.

Should You ‘Like’ Your Adult Kids?

Two 20-something brothers share an apartment in hipster Brooklyn, N.Y., and often post selfies on Facebook and Instagram of Sunday brunches with friends. It never fails that the first “like” – “Way to go boys! – is always from Aunt Sally. “It drives them nuts that she comments immediately,” their mom says. Apparently, Aunt Sally doesn’t know the unspoken rule of social media: Adults can see but not be heard.

Through Facebook and Instagram we enjoy a front-row seat at our children’s daily dramas, from teenage grandchildren to millennial parents. Without social media we probably wouldn’t know half of what goes on in their lives. Yet sometimes we feel like aliens lurking in an alternate universe, unaware of the rules of engagement.

Connect With Your Millennial Neighbors

Millennials have not only invaded the workplace, but more and more are becoming our neighbors — either when we move to an apartment or when they buy their first suburban home.

While most of us get along, there’s still a generation gap, according to a Trulia survey. About 25 percent of millennials and just 6 percent of boomers think of their neighbors as strangers rather than friends. Perhaps more troubling is that about 60 percent of the younger generation reported a gripe with a neighbor, especially noise from barking dogs or loud music.

Busting the stereotype of the grouchy older neighbor, about 60 percent of boomers have reported no problems with their neighbors. Millennial men also tend to call the authorities rather than knock on doors when it comes to dealing with problems. Millennial women and boomers generally ignore the problems.

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Juggling Family Holiday Traditions With Your Adult Kids

When it comes to the holidays and our millennial children, the classic song lyrics “Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house we go” need an update.

Rather than visit, the kids may ask us to do the traveling. If they do come to us, there’s a good chance it won’t be on the actual holiday.

For parents of adult children, the holidays can mean abandoning decades-long traditions, and that’s not without some angst. But parents need to adapt to the changing family dynamic, says clinical psychotherapist Deanna Brann, author of Reluctantly Related. “Parents can’t assume that the traditions they’ve always had are going to continue.”

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Make Sure Your Millennial Kids Take Charge of Their Health Care

Every so often my 26-year-old daughter complains that her back hurts and wonders if she should go to a chiropractor. I suggest that she first find an internist and get an annual physical — which she never does. Instead she uses a walk-in medical center when needed. The last time she saw a personal doctor was when she visited her pediatrician four years ago.

She’s typical of many millennials. While some refuse to give up their pediatrician, most head to the emergency room, a walk-in clinic or even their local drugstore when they need medical treatment. Only 43 percent use a primary care physician, the lowest of any age group.

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When Your Adult Child Is in an Abusive Relationship

Know the signs — and be compassionate, offer a safe haven

College romance can have a dark side. While researching a book on campus party life, sociologist Elizabeth Armstrong found that some boyfriends of young women control them by checking their text messages and hiding their car keys. The women also reported that they’d endured taunting, yelling, shaming, stalking — even rape — before breaking up with their abusers.

“We were surprised by how many young women had relationships that were characterized by some form of violence,” says Armstrong, coauthor of Paying for the Party. “Not only physical abuse but emotional abuse, where the abuser takes away with the victim’s freedom with controlling behavior.”

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