British Columbia

Gabor Maté & son Daniel give workshop on relationship between parents, adult children

Pair will lead the workshop 'Hello Again: A Fresh Start for Parents and Their Adult Children' on May 13 to 14 at Simon Fraser University.

Pair will lead the workshop 'Hello Again: A Fresh Start for Parents and Their Adult Children' in Vancouver

Dr. Gabor Mate and his son Daniel are presenting a workshop exploring the often complicated relationship between parents and their adult children. (Gabor Mate)

Sometimes when children grow up to become adults, the pattern of how they treat their parents and their parents treat them doesn't evolve and mature in quite the same way.

That's the premise behind a workshop that renowned author and speaker Dr. Gabor Maté will be giving on May 13 to 14 at Simon Fraser University, along with his son Daniel, a composer and educator.

The workshop — 'Hello Again: A Fresh Start for Parents and Their Adult Children — is meant to examine the source of those old patterns, and to teach how those can be cleared to make way for a new relationship that isn't tied down by what came before.

In other words, a real adult-to-adult relationship.

Parents feeling inadequate, guilty

"I read a quote recently … it said that it's very often more comfortable to talk to strangers because they see you as you are, and not as how they want you to be," Maté told host Sheryl MacKay on North by Northwest.

"Certainly for me as a parent of adult children it's very difficult to see them as what they are, rather than what I'm afraid they are, or what I want them to be. So it's letting go of that, that's the work I think for the parent."

Maté admits that parenting his children was a struggle, and he often felt guilty about his shortcomings, because of trauma from his past.

"If they are not what I want them to be, well what does that make me? It makes me into an insufficient, inadequate parent," he said.

So I need them do well, so that I can feel that I'm okay, which means my feeling of [being] okay depends on how someone else is doing, which is a very fragile basis on which to place one's self-acceptance."

Daniel said that growing up his relationship with his father was fraught with tension, and that every interaction they had was stressful.

He said it is also easy for children to take that guilt from their parents and not take responsibility for their own lives.

A fresh relationship

Now, after each had individual counselling and worked together, Gabor and Daniel Maté feel they have interesting insights to share with other parents and their adult children.

"When we say 'Hello Again', as the title of this, we really mean actually really getting to know you … getting to know who you are now, from what I am now," Daniel said.

"And from that comes humour and surprise and even some adventure.

"I can walk away from an interaction from my father, and feel some peace. I can also be nourished by the relationship with my father. I've got a pretty great dad, and there's no one quite like him."

With files from CBC's North by Northwest

To hear the full interview listen to the audio labelled: Gabor Maté & son Daniel give workshop on relationships between parents, adult children