Noting that families tend to gather on the holidays, Paula Gellis, a family therapist whose Oradell-based practice, Relatively Speaking, brings her into daily contact with parents and children, says “if you’re going to step on your tongue, it’s the right time.”
The former director of senior adult services for Jewish Family & Children’s Services in Wayne points out that there are “caveats” in dealing with adult children.
“Just as there of stages of life, there are stages of parenting,” says Gellis, focusing on the issue of criticism. “What’s OK to say to an 8- to 10-year-old cannot be said to a 35-year-old. Don’t give advice unless it’s asked for.”
Gellis, who will speak on this topic at the River Edge Public Library on Sept. 23, repeats the words of one client: “My tongue is like Swiss cheese from biting it all the time.” Her talk, on behalf of River Dell Hadassah, will explore the “fine line between helping your adult children and respecting their independence.”
“Some find it a tightrope,” she says, “while to others it’s more natural.” The trick, she said, is to learn to navigate boundaries – something that becomes even more complex when the adult child moves back home.
“We are always parents and children, but when your child is an adult, it can be more of a friendship, less of parent-child,” she says. “Respect must go both ways.”
For more information, call 201-261-1663.