Psych Central

Difficult (dysfunctional) relationship with an adult child

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Our only daughter, who is married and lives in another city, surprised us recently with a letter indicating that she believes that our family is dysfunctional. She indicated that for years she has had to ‘pretend’ to endure being in our presence. She recommends that we seek help to heal our relationship. What does a healthy relationship between parents and their adult child look like? What criteria should we use to we select a therapist (here, there, or somewhere between) to help us explore these issues?

A: First let me applaud you for taking this information and request from your daughter with an open mind and willingness. Whatever the path toward healing and therapist you choose, you will have started on the best possible foundation: listening and responding to your daughter’s needs.

A good family therapist, perhaps one that is a licensed marriage and family counselor might be a good place to start. But many other therapists can have training and expertise in working with and healing families. He or she will be able to help you navigate through this. The find help tab at the top of the page will give you some names in your area.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 1 Jul 2011

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2011). Difficult (dysfunctional) relationship with an adult child. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 19, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/07/01/difficult-dysfunctional-relationship-with-an-adult-child/