Hi! I'll be glad to be of help with this issue.
I can imagine how frustrating this situation must be for you. He's your son, you raised him, you want to now enjoy an adult relationship with him. That's really quite admirable of you, by the way. Many parents go the other way: they want to keep treating their kids like they are little kids who need to be told what to do all the time so they won't make mistakes and get hurt. That is very counterproductive because, of course, adult children have to make their own mistakes and are going to get hurt. And sometimes hurt themselves as well.
But you're trying to have an adult relationship. And that means you share good times, bad times, and make suggestions, etc. Adult relationships are thus two way: you want to give and to get and you expect him to give and to get from you.
The problem is that kids don't often (very rarely, in fact) have the emotional tools to have that kind of relationship with their parents. Your son is indeed older now, but he still feels about you as "Mom". That means to him that you are there to be his cheerleader.
I know that sounds awful. But it isn't really. He still feels he needs your approval. Cheerleader to him means that you think highly of him and approve of him. So every time you make a comment that questions his behavior (like an adult to an adult), to him it's not just another adult asking him about why he's doing what he's doing, it's his mother telling him he messed up again.
And so he's super sensitive to it. Will he ever get past this stage of development? Maybe. There are no guarantees. However, you have a better chance if you are super careful to remember that for him, when you talk it's not just an adult talking to him, it's his mother. And so with that super careful watchfulness, you don't make any comments.
In therapy, I have parents in this situation practice listening to their adult kid saying something like he did, that he didn't call Carol and let her know, leaving her to worry. And they practice not responding with a criticism for sure. BUT, they even don't respond with a question. That's very important, not even an innocent sounding one like, Wouldn't it have been thoughtful to call and let her know?
Rather, they practice just saying things like: uh, huh. And that's it. Just that. Or, "I see". Nothing else. And then they either wait for him to continue or they bring up something else. And you know what happens?
Usually, at first, the adult kid has to pick himself up off the floor because mom didn't behave as he's so used to and he can't tell her how she's ruined his day again. Because she didn't play the same part as always of saying something he can feel is a criticism.
But after a while, he'll get used to it. And then one day, the blessing will occur: he'll actually tell you he has something he's not sure about and he'll ask you for your advice. And that day will be the first time you say anything and he'll be glad to hear it.
Well, it takes a lot of patience. But that is how you deal with an adult child who's not matured yet past that stage where mom's approval means so much to him and he's always looking for evidence that you disapprove. So that's what you have to do.
Okay, I wish you the very best!
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