Many parents share a common experience: their adult children reach out mainly when they need something, especially financial help.
This pattern can leave parents feeling used, unappreciated, and longing for a more balanced and fulfilling relationship with their children. If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone, and it’s a topic worth delving into.
In this article, we’ll explore why this one-sided communication happens and what can be done about it.
Understanding the root cause is a vital first step in addressing the issue and building a more balanced relationship.
We’ll also provide practical solutions, guiding you on how to initiate change and create a more positive communication pattern.
Changing long-standing habits takes time, but with patience and consistency, it’s possible to transform your relationship into a more rewarding connection for both of you.
Possible Reasons Why Your Son Only Contacts You When He Wants Something
1. He’s Grown Accustomed to this Pattern
From early on, kids pick up on behavioral patterns. Maybe in the past, every time your son reached out, he was met with immediate help or what he wanted.
This can cement a particular behavior, making him feel that this is the “normal” way to interact. If every call or text led to a solution or gift, why wouldn’t he continue this way?
Another aspect is the expectations that were set. As parents, we often want to provide for our children, sometimes even before they ask.
But in doing so, we might inadvertently teach them that we’re their go-to solution, without them needing to put in any other relational effort.
2. Emotional Disconnect or Avoidance
Perhaps your son struggles with emotional vulnerability or feels uncomfortable discussing personal feelings or challenges.
By focusing only on tangible needs, he sidesteps the messier, emotional conversations.
Life is challenging, and everyone processes emotions differently. Some people find it harder to open up, especially if they’ve been hurt or misunderstood in the past.
They might believe that keeping things superficial and need-based prevents deeper emotional wounds or conflicts.
For some, it’s about self-preservation. If every conversation is about a material need, there’s less risk of delving into emotional territories that might be painful or uncomfortable. It’s a defense mechanism, albeit an indirect one.
3. Lack of Awareness
Sometimes, people just aren’t tuned into their behavior and its impacts on others. Your son might not even realize that he’s only reaching out when he needs something.
Day to day, he’s got a lot on his plate, and this habit has simply flown under his radar.
Communication patterns can be tricky to notice, especially when they’ve been part of someone’s life for a while.
Without someone pointing it out, it might never dawn on him that this behavior could be hurting or frustrating you.
He’s in his own world, and this blind spot keeps him from seeing the full picture of your relationship.
It’s also worth considering that he might not understand the expectations around parent-child communication as adults.
Every family is different, and without a clear model of how adult children should keep in touch, he’s navigating blindly, doing what he thinks is right.
[Also Read: 7 Deadly Signs of an Immature Man]
4. Upbringing Can Also Play a Role
Looking back, reflect on the dynamics of your household as he was growing up.
Was the emphasis on open, frequent communication, or was it more about solving problems and moving on?
The environment in which he was raised plays a big part in shaping his current behavior.
Sometimes, parents inadvertently teach their kids to be self-reliant, only reaching out when absolutely necessary.
This isn’t a bad thing in itself, but it can lead to a skewed communication pattern as kids grow up. He learned the ropes of life in your household, and this is just him following through.
On top of that, if the household was more about functionality than emotionality, he might not even realize that regular, casual conversations are something you’d appreciate.
He’s playing by the rules he learned growing up, not realizing things can, and maybe should, be different now.
Let’s face it, keeping in touch requires effort. And well, sometimes people can be lazy, especially when it comes to maintaining relationships.
Your son might be falling into this trap, only reaching out when he has a clear reason to.
In his mind, it might seem like a win-win. He gets to tick the box of staying in touch, and you get to feel involved in his life. It’s efficient, even if it’s not particularly warm or nurturing.
This lazy communication tactic has become his style because it’s straightforward and requires minimal effort.
You might be thinking, “Why can’t he just put in a bit more effort?” But for him, this pattern has become so ingrained, it’s almost like autopilot.
He doesn’t have to think about it, and in his busy life, that simplicity has its own appeal.
6. Just Plain Immaturity
And here’s a simple truth: not everyone matures at the same rate. Your son might still be in a stage of his life where he’s a bit self-centered, not fully grasping the give-and-take of adult relationships.
It’s a phase many go through, and it can affect parent-child relationships too.
His focus is on his own life, his own needs, and he hasn’t quite gotten to the point where he realizes relationships, including those with parents, need nurturing.
He’s got growing to do, and right now, his communication reflects that.
Sure, he loves you, and he doesn’t mean to hurt you. He’s just navigating life with the tools he has right now, and that means a communication style that is a bit immature.
As he grows and learns, this will likely change, but for now, it’s where he’s at.
[Interesting: 5 Major Signs of An Emotionally Immature Adult]
What to Do When Your Son Only Contacts You When He Wants Something
1. Initiate Regular Check-Ins
You could take the first step to change the dynamic. Start by setting up a regular time to catch up, maybe a weekly phone call or a bi-weekly video chat.
This creates a routine and opens up space for conversations that aren’t just need-based.
When you talk, make sure to keep the conversation light and positive. Show interest in his life, his thoughts, and his feelings.
Share a bit of your own world with him as well. This balance is key to making these conversations something to look forward to, not a chore.
Even if he doesn’t open up right away or seems a bit distant at first, stick with it.
Soon, he’ll start to see these calls or chats as a regular part of his relationship with you, not just an avenue for when he needs something.
2. Encourage Open Communication
Make it clear that you’re there for him, no matter what he wants to talk about.
Encourage him to share his thoughts and feelings, not just his problems or needs. This helps to create a safe space for him to open up.
Talk about your own life, your challenges, and your joys. This kind of vulnerability from your side can set the tone and show him that it’s okay to share more than just surface-level updates or requests.
You want to build a relationship where he feels comfortable reaching out, whatever the reason.
This takes time and patience, but by consistently encouraging open and honest communication, you’re laying the groundwork for a more balanced and fulfilling connection.
3. Share Your Feelings
Don’t be afraid to express how you feel about the current state of your communication.
You can let him know that you love hearing from him, but you also wish to be part of his life in more ways than just when he needs something.
This isn’t about guilt-tripping him or making him feel bad. It’s about opening his eyes to how you feel and what you desire in your relationship with him.
Remember, he might not even be aware that there’s an issue, so expressing your feelings is a key step toward change.
Make sure to approach this conversation with love and understanding.
You’re not accusing him; you’re simply sharing your perspective and your wishes for your relationship moving forward.
4. Lead by Example
Show him what regular, thoughtful communication looks like. Share little updates about your life, send a funny picture or an interesting article every now and then.
Let him see that communication can be spontaneous and light-hearted.
By actively engaging with him in a positive and consistent manner, you’re demonstrating the kind of relationship you’d like to have.
This isn’t about overwhelming him with messages or calls. It’s about creating a steady stream of communication, showing him that there’s room for regular, casual interaction in your relationship.
5. Create Opportunities for Quality Time
Try to spend quality time together, whether that’s in person, over a video call, or even playing an online game together.
Activities give you something to bond over and talk about, making communication flow more naturally.
These moments are precious. They create memories and strengthen your bond, moving your relationship beyond just need-based interactions.
It shows him that your relationship is multifaceted and valuable in its own right.
Quality time doesn’t have to be elaborate. The goal is simply to enjoy each other’s company and build positive associations with spending time together, no strings attached.
6. Be Patient and Understanding
Understand that change takes time, especially when it comes to shifting long-standing communication patterns.
Be patient with him (and yourself) as you both navigate this new terrain.
Celebrate the small victories along the way. Maybe he starts to open up a bit more, or perhaps he initiates a call just to chat. These are signs of progress, and they’re worth acknowledging.
Your goal is to build a stronger, more open relationship with your son. This is a journey, not a race, and patience is your ally here.
With time and consistent effort from both of you, the nature of your communication can transform, creating a more balanced and fulfilling connection.
What If He Doesn’t Change After All These Solutions?
If your son doesn’t show signs of change despite your efforts to encourage more balanced communication, it’s important to set clear and consistent boundaries, especially when it comes to financial requests.
When he calls asking for money again, be calm and assertive in your response.
Explain that while you are always there to support him emotionally and are happy to discuss his situation, you can’t continue to provide financial assistance.
Encourage him to explore other solutions or to discuss his financial planning with you, turning the conversation into an educational moment rather than a transaction.
Maintaining these boundaries is crucial, even if it’s tough to do in the moment. It sends a clear message about your expectations and helps to shift the dynamic of your relationship.
It’s not about punishing him or cutting him off; it’s about encouraging him to stand on his own feet and engage with you in a more balanced and reciprocal way.
Over time, this approach can create a healthier, more mutually satisfying relationship between the two of you.