Are you the type of person that doesn't listen to your children? You look at them and still see them as a child? You look at them with eyes of disappointment and longing? Do you look at them and only see your own short comings, and wish you could have done something differently? If you do any of these things you might need to re-evaluate your relationship with them. Change the way you think about them and act toward them. You might want to try and just being their friend.
You may not be consciously aware you are doing any of these things. You honestly need to look deep inside of you and be brutally honest with yourself, because the problems you might be experiencing between you and your child may not be entirely their fault. You may not even understand or be aware that your actions and words cause so much pain. The way you treat them causes them to second guess themselves, make them feel unappreciated and full of soul doubt.
One thing you need to be aware of is your child looks up to you. They want to talk with you and share their experiences with you. Your seeming indifference and lack of interest is devastating to them. Their self-esteem suffers and they feel alienated and like they are a burden to you. They can see the disappointment in your eyes and they think that it is disappointment in them, they don't realize it is disappointment in yourself. So they work harder and longer, just to get your notice and praise. When they don't get it they feel disappointment, despair and resentment. They don't understand what they have to do to get you to notice that they have grown-up and have become an adult.
You are not even aware they long for your approval and praise. They want you to be interested and a part of what they are doing. You need to look at them on their merits, achievements and accomplishments, don't look at them with anger, jealousy or animosity, because they did something that you yourself wanted to do. Remember, you worked and sacrificed every day because you wanted better for them, you wanted them to have opportunities you didn't have, Guess what, you succeeded, you accomplished it. So don't envy them, they did exactly that and you provided them the tools and the ability to succeed, be proud of yourself and then, you both did what you set out to do.
Further, it is never too late for you. Now that your kids are grown you can go back to school. You can do what you want, you have the time and resources you didn't have before, use them. You will see that whatever you put your mind too you can do. Take the initiative make an effort, only you can change your fate, address your disappointments and accomplish your dreams, your kids cannot do it for you and neither can your partner.
If you let your bitterness and anger linger it will affect how you treat your kids, and they will see it. It will be evident in your unkind words, it will be seen in your eyes when they look at you and you them. It will eventually alienate you from them totally and I honestly don't think you want that. Encourage your children to strive for greatness, to reach for their dreams and sing their praises when they accomplish each goal and cheer them on when they succeed in a dream and desire it will well be worth it. Your relationship will be so much lighter and happier when you listen to them and rejoice with them in their victories. Don't be like me and my dad where 7 years had to pass by before we talked and worked out our issues and disappointments.
Take the time to listen to their advice you might be surprised they may have an idea which will help you complete something easier and faster than the way you were thinking of doing it. Don't be so sensitive that when they are asking questions you actually take it as criticism, because you might find that they are just curious and are really asking a question because they want to know. They are just trying to help and have some input or advice to give if you just let them. When you only hear criticism you end up getting angry and say thins that hurt, and really they just wanted to help that is all they weren't trying to criticize or find fault with what you are doing.
It will be hard, but nothing good comes to us easily. You need to put in the effort because the last thing you want them to do is cut you out of their life. It really is all up to you, I just want you to know the pain, defeat and despair they feel. Please, just give them the benefit of the doubt. I am sure you will be glad that you did and you will begin to see that they have grown up and they are the person you taught them to be. They are the sum of all you had to offer, the discipline and the lessons you taught them, and the events that life has thrown at them. They made it and accomplished wonderful and amazing things and it is all because of you and the sacrifices you made on their behalf.
As always my hopes and dreams are with you,