Establishing an adult-to-adult relationship with parents is one of the most complicated tasks a young woman faces.
''Of course, it's more difficult if you and your parents have had a rocky relationship in the past,'' San Francisco psychiatrist Carla Perez told Susan Jacoby in an article in the current issue of Cosmopolitan, ''but all kinds of issues need to be worked out - even in the most harmonious families.
''As long as a woman is living her life either to please her parents or to rebel against them she's not fully adult. In some ways renegotiating the parent-child relationship is a lifelong process.''
For many women, unresolved anger from an unhappy childhood stands in the way of a more mature family relationship. They may insist that parents admit to and apologize for whatever went wrong in the past - a demand that often leads to a repetition of old battles.
New York psychotherapist JoAnn Magdoff pointed out that an adult gives her parents too much power when she insists on an apology for a flawed upbringing. ''You have to trust your own memories without needing your parents to say, 'Yes, that's how it was.'°''
Another sticky issue between adult children and their parents - especially between mothers and daughters - is the establishment of a line between sharing and interference, between privacy and standoffishness. Some young women feel the only way they can protect their privacy is to confide nothing to their parents, while others make the mistake of revealing too much.
''There is no formula,'' Perez said. ''Sometimes you'll hear a daughter say her mother is her best friend or a mother will say that about her daughter - but a good relationship between an adult child and a parent isn't exactly like one between friends of the same age. Some things you'd tell a friend but not your mother - because she would worry too much, not because she'd disapprove of you. But it's also true that in an adult-to-adult relationship, you should feel free to share things you would have died before revealing when you were a teen-ager.''
Many young adults find it hard to imagine their parents as people with problems, dreams, talents and desires that have nothing to do with their children, Perez said.
The parent-child relationship eventually undergoes role reversal.
''Unless they were late-in-life babies, most people in their 20s and 30s haven't arrived at the stage when their parents become their children,'' Magdoff says, ''but what happens is that you begin to realize your parents do need you.''