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What Is Restorative Mother-Child Counseling?

“Luckily, every day of motherhood gives you the opportunity to revise your revisions from the day before and to rethink your thinking.” - Harriet Lerner, relationship expert & psychologist

Woman and daughter at sunset

Moms and adult children today might feel as if they’re living on two different planets, but that doesn’t mean they can’t find their way back home to each other.

Now more so than at any other time in history mothers and their adult children can find the compassionate, knowledgeable support they need to get back on the same page so they can embark on a beautiful new chapter together.

If you’re a mother or adult child who’s considering restorative mother-child counseling, it’s helpful to know what to expect, such as how restorative mother-child relationship counseling differs from other types of counseling, what happens during a typical restorative mother-child counseling session, and who restorative mother-child counseling is (and is not) for.

The answers to these questions can help you decide if restorative mother-child counseling is right for you.

What is restorative mother-child counseling?

Restorative mother-child counseling is a specialized form of mother-child relationship counseling that addresses the unique challenges (and also the exciting new joys) that come with mother-child relationships in the 21st century using an intergenerational trauma-informed, empathic, strengths-based approach.

The goal of restorative mother-child counseling is not to to paint either the mom or the adult child as the “bad guy” — such an approach is counterproductive — but to instead help moms and children solve their issues together as a team by expanding upon what’s already working.

Who is restorative mother-child counseling for?

Restorative mother-child counseling is for mothers and adult children who both want to improve, restore, or reconcile their relationship as two fully consenting adults.

Who is restorative mother-child counseling not for?

Due to the inherent power imbalance that comes with relationships between mothers and minor children under age 18, restorative mother-child counseling is not appropriate for mothers and minor children.

In those situations, parents are encouraged to seek out other options such as individual counseling, family counseling, or parent counseling/coaching.

What are the benefits of restorative mother-child counseling?

Mothers and adult children who go to restorative mother-child counseling together report experiencing one or more of the following benefits:

  • Improved communication.

  • Fewer (and less intense) arguments and conflicts.

  • Less frustration and resentment.

  • The ability to enjoy each other’s company again.

  • Living in the present instead of being stuck in the past.

  • Increased awareness of each other’s needs.

  • Restored grandparent/grandchild relationships.

  • Increased empathy and support.

Ultimately, restorative mother-child counseling decreases the risk that mothers and adult children with strained relationships will become (or remain) estranged.

What does restorative mother-child counseling not do?

As you already know, restorative mother-child counseling has the power to accomplish incredible things. But at the end of the day it’s still not magic.

The mom who isn’t interested in putting in the effort? Chances are good she still won’t want to do so come the second, third, or fourth session either.

The mom who doesn’t want to hear her adult child out? Same deal.

For restorative mother-child counseling to work, both people need to want to be there.

Like other forms of relational counseling, another thing restorative mother-child counseling does not do is tell mothers and adult children whether or not they should end or continue their relationship.

Why would a mom and adult child pursue restorative mother-child counseling?

There are many reasons that bring moms and adult children to pursue restorative mother-child counseling together. Some of these reasons include:

  • Overcoming disagreements they haven’t been able to resolve on their own.

  • Addressing misunderstandings around feelings, expectations, grandchildren, etc.

  • Learning how to communicate in more effective ways.

  • One or both people feeling hurt by the past actions (or inactions) of the other.

  • Preventing a painful and perhaps unnecessary mother-child estrangement.

  • Reconciling after a mother-child estrangement.

  • Breaking the cycle of intergenerational trauma together.

It’s a common misconception that moms and adult children only attend mother-child counseling due to existing problems in the relationship. Many choose to participate in more and more mothers and adult children are

What if the other person refuses to join me for restorative mother-child counseling?

Contrary to what you might think, what we’ve found here at the Mother Wound Project is that invitations for restorative mother-child counseling are typically received really well by mothers and adult children alike.

According to our research, the vast majority of mothers and adult children perceive an ask by the other person to attend mother-child counseling as a positive thing.

And this is particularly true for mothers who happen to be close with mothers whose adult children have gone radio silent after giving up on ever being heard.

Ask an estranged mom if you should take your adult child up on their offer to go to restorative mother-child counseling with them and the answer you’re likely to get is something along the lines of, “Umm … that’s my dream come true!! Why are you hesitating?! Go work things out with your child while you’ve got the chance!”

Like I tell the moms and adult children I work with all the time, as a general rule we humans don’t go around inviting people we don’t care a lot about to go to counseling with us.

If your adult child cares enough to invite you to come to counseling with you then you still have every reason to hope.

Having said this, it still of course can happen that a particular mom or adult child will say no to going to restorative mother-child counseling.

In these rare instances, the mother/adult child who wants to work on the relationship can pursue individual mother wound counseling for themselves.

Keep in mind that it’s not unusual for the mother/adult child who originally said no to mother-child counseling to learn of the other person’s continued efforts and decide to attend after all.

Is meeting in-person or online better for restorative mother-child counseling?

The answer really comes down to your particular needs and preferences. Two important questions to ask yourself are:

“Do the two of us live in the same place?”

If your answer is “yes,” in-person mother-child counseling might work just fine for you.

But if your answer is “no” like it is for so many parents and adult kids these days, you’ll need to find a restorative mother-child counselor who works remotely across state (and maybe even country!) lines.

Tip: Scan for words like “nationwide” or “global” on the counselor’s website.

“How experienced do we want our restorative mother-child counselor to be?”

If your answer is “very experienced,” unless you luck out and happen to live in the same geographical area as a restorative mother-child specialist, you’ll want to opt for online counseling.

When counselors are restricted to working in one location, they typically cannot specialize in as this would limit the clients who can work with them. This is why these counselors are often referred to as “generalists.”

Ready to take the next step?

Tomorrow isn’t promised. Are you ready to pursue restorative mother-child counseling and heal your relationship with your mom or adult child? Take that all-important first step today. If you’re the mom, you can explore our restorative mother-child counseling services here. If you’re the adult child, you can explore our restorative mother-child counseling services here.

1 Comment

Oct 07, 2023

Such a great article. I wish my mom would be willing to do this!


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