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Interacting With Our Adult Kids: Your Best Advice?

12 years ago

I would really appreciate your advice when it comes to interacting with adult kids so that you stay close to them . . . but don't push them away by "too much".

What do you think is the right balance between close and too close? Interested, but not meddling? Etc.

I have two, our 27 y/o son and our 17 y/o DD. As many of you already know, DS finished his Masters and then went into the Army. He's now in his second deployment to a war zone in the Middle East. DD is a high school senior.

Both kids are well-rounded, get/got great grades, no drug, alcohol, physical or emotional problems.

We've always been a pretty tight-knit, close, loving family and I have good relationship with both my kids. I know they love me and enjoy my company. . . but it hurts like heck ~ even though I know it's part of becoming an adult~ to be relegated to a backseat in our son's life. He's a great guy with many, many good friends. He does try to call us every week to check in, but when he comes home on leave, he's here to sleep, for an occasional meal and chat a bit, but spends 90% of his waking time out with friends.

I don't whine about it.

I don't cry.

I don't sulk.

I don't harangue.

I don't try to be one of his good buddies

I don't lay any guilt trips on him.

I've learned not to overload him with emails every day, and try to keep them short and only twice a week.

So, I'm not a "Mommy Dearest" or like the crazy, interfering mom on "Everybody Loves Raymond". But I do have to admit that I'm a mom who would love to have both my kids settle down close by so that we saw them every week. I guess that's pretty normal, right?

Anyhoo, I would LOVE and appreciate hearing any advice you have on how to be a mom that adult kids enjoy being around . . . although, of course, not all the time ;^D

DS is not engaged, or attached to any one girl at the moment, but I imagine he will be by the time he's 30. Then I'll have to deal with the DIL, as well. I don't want to screw up my relationships with either of my kids or their someday spouses, so I'm looking for advice as to what to do . . . and what NOT to do (LOL!).

What works for you? What did you like or not like when it came to interactions with your own parents or kids?



Comments (37)

  • 12 years ago

    Lynn, I think you are doing well and that your son is a typical 27 year old in his attitude ; does he respond well to pre-planned family dinners out when he's home ? my son was away at school then away when he started working so when he'd be home, it was late nights with his friends and we let him be except for
    "dates" we'd make with him, with advance warning, so that worked well for us.

    He's 34 now and lives in our city ( DH and I are the ones going back and forth to Florida) and I see him more but it can be days before he calls, he doesn't check in regularly and I've gotten used to that, that's just how he is.

    DD and I have always been close , even when we were apart geographically,
    and she was always the type to call daily, check in and see how I am when DH is away, etc... let's me know how her life is going, it's a different relationship than with DS. Even at 27, I was closer to DD than I was with DS. DD is 32 now.

    I hate to generalize and say boys are this way and girls are that way, you just never know how your relationship with your adult kids will evolve; I know I've always tried to be there for them no matter what, (I've proven myself many times to them, they've been through unusual situations) ; my kids are very different in temperament, DS has always been more independent.

    You're on the right track , imo; you can't command closeness, it just evolves in times of need and it depends on how they mature and where life brings them. As parents, we can just support and guide when required, you seem to be doing that well. But I do understand your concern in wanting to pave the way to a close adult relationship with your kids. I remember periods when I felt estranged from DS and it bothered me a lot. Now he has a 7 year old so my babysitting skills are appreciated, lol....

  • 12 years ago

    From the kid's point of view, I think you sound like a great mother. It is hard when you are in your 20's and 30's to make time for your parents. Your life is so full with work and friends, maybe even a spouse and children. My parents really wanted me to visit every weekend, but that was my only free time to get my household chores done and to have fun with my friends. I know some people who talk to their parents every day. My mother spoke to her mother every day. I can't even imagine doing so. Sometimes even once a week feels like too much.

    Every parent and child relationship is different, but I believe that the more patient and undemanding you are, the more willing your children are to spend time with you when they can. In my family, we set aside Christmas as our sacrosanct reunion time. Everyone makes a strong effort to spend Christmas uninterrupted with the family.

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  • 12 years ago

    "I believe that the more patient and undemanding you are, the more willing your children are to spend time with you when they can"

    well said !!!!!!!

  • 12 years ago

    I think also if you make an effort to have a full and interesting life separate from your kids, you may be more of someone they'd enjoy hanging out with. Even if we make no demands on our kids, but they see they are the primary focus of our interest, it can still put pressure on them to fill that need for us - and that's where resentment can grow. Find things that fill you up that don't require your kids to do that. (I'm not implying that you don't, just making general statements).

  • 12 years ago

    The best way I found to keep engaged with my adult children is FaceBook. We text frequently, and I talk to my eldest DD frequently by phone, but the younger DD is not a big phone talker. She prefers to visit with me in person, and always by FB. Right now, with DS being incarcerated, I have more time to talk and see him than I did when he was free. And we've definitely grown so much closer thru this ordeal. I think that when he's home, we'll probably continue with the texts, as we did before.

    I was just talking to a young coworker about this issue the other day, she said her free time is needed by taking care of life (house cleaning, errands, etc) so she doesn't go see her parents often. I can understand where her folks are coming from!

  • 12 years ago

    I'm not sure that what I will say is what you are looking for or will be helpful. My kids are still young and still at home. They are 22 and 24 (my 24 DS left for a 9-week trip to South American this morning - I'm excited for him but still apprehensive although I know he will have a great time)
    I'm in my mid-50's and my mother in her early 80's and she thinks that when she is in my home that it is ok to criticize everything I do and that everything I do is wrong - I peel potatoes wrong, buy the wrong food wrap, cook the turkey wrong, don't sharpen my knives properly, etc.

    My point is that I am not her and there is more than one way of doing things. I think it is important for us to remember that we have raised our children but they are not us, they have different temperments, their strengths and weaknesses are different than ours, their interests will not be our interests and we have to let them be the people that they have grown to become. We need to let them be who they are without fear of criticism and thinking that we are always right or that they have/will let us down.
    If they come to us for advice give it otherwise allow them to be adults, make their own decisions, choose their own paths, and be happy and settled with their independence.

  • 12 years ago

    I really needed to hear this. Thanks everyone for your well spoken advise. I'm really battling now with my 18 year old son, (oldest) living at home and going to commnunity college. It is a train wreck waiting to happen and I need to derail it. I don't want to push him away but I fear that is exactly what I'm doing. I sure miss my momma about now.

  • 12 years ago

    I can attest to the fact that boys and girls are different in communicating, at least at our house. DH and I roll our eyes when we get the 15th stream-of-consciousness call in a day from our 29-year-old DD, once because she spotted a squirrel.

    Our 36-year old DS seldom calls unless he's asking for us to babysit our beloved grandchildren. DH gets more concerned than I about the lack of phone calls, but I remind him how I used to have to remind him to call his mother, now gone, and that didn't mean he didn't love her. We do see a lot of DS and his family, at least a couple of times a week; he invites us to gatherings with his friends (her parents aren't invited), we're the favorite grandparents, and always spend the actual birthdays with our grandchildren. But her family is very demanding regarding holidays, so we're relegated to Christmas Eve, the week before Thanksgiving, etc. I think that's the hardest loss for me, not to have my own original family together every Christmas morning. I tried to work around their plans every year, but every year they changed.

    The one piece of advice I gave my SIL, who has two sons, aged 22 and 27, is to make it clear she expects them to attend family functions. She was very close to her two sons, and always became friends with their girl-friends. Her oldest's current girl-friend (close to fiancee) doesn't want to be friends, and is unusually close to her own family. At our last family gathering, her son and his girl-friend didn't attend, and she told him, "Don't worry about it." I told her that was a mistake because someday when they have kids, she'll will have established a precedent that she doesn't mind them missing gatherings. She later told me she thought about that a lot and decided I was right.

    I will say that, though my DD keeps in closer contact with us than DS, I think my son appreciates us more. The highest compliment is seeing him trying to replicate our family with his own in lots of little ways.

    I agree, though, that there is a loss when a son becomes a man, but the new relationship can be just as rewarding in a different way.

    Sorry I was so wordy here. Got carried away.


  • 12 years ago

    Lynn, I hear you. It seems like you're doing everything right but I might mention that an older wiser woman told me this long ago. If you want your adult kids to like being with you, don't ask questions. Let them initiate what they want to share with you and so that's how I do it. I have one son that calls and visits and one that is very busy so we keep in touch via email and occasional phone calls. My daughter calls for lunch dates with me when she has a day off which is about every two weeks. I know it makes you feel sad, I've been there but mine are older than you now and they love me very much just as yours do. I guess it's time for us to take a back seat for a while. Actually I've come to like this system. It frees me up to get away with no guilt. And, if I get too lonely, I just ring one of them up and chat for 20 minutes and I'm cured.

  • 12 years ago

    Lynn, right now it's almost impossible to get extra close to your son. My advice is if you write or email him (I don't know how that works when they're deployed), do it OFTEN. Whether he replies or not.

    I'm extremely close to my boys. Both live about 30 min. away. But I've always had a close relationship with them. When they were in college I called them at least every other day just to see what they were doing. If I bothered them, they never let on. lol

    If the boys are going through a stressful time at work, etc., they both talk to me. And their dad too, but mostly me since women are usually the "gabby" one's. The Mother in most of us never leaves. Ever.

    In the meantime, try to get him in private conversations between you and him. Like if he's interested in a girl. What he did the night before with his friends.

    One thing I always loved is when my boys were in high school, I'd be in bed waiting for them to come home. They'd both show up at curfew and come sit on my bed and tell me everything (well, almost everthing) they did that night.

    I was also blessed to get a wonderful DIL. I couldn't have gotten a better one had I handpicked her myself! She knows how close we are and she loves it because she's close to her family also. I call them on weekends (if we don't see them) just to check in.

    My mother OTOH felt it was the duty of the child to call. Which really put a strain on our relationship and we didn't have that closeness we had growing up.

  • 12 years ago

    I agree with Dee about having your children attend family dinners/functions/celebrations. My kids have never had a choice about that - they are expected to attend and they always do. My niece was married this weekend (my kids cousin) and as I mentioned my eldest DS was headed to South America but he either had to be home in time for his cousins wedding or he couldn't leave until after. He knew that he didn't have a choice and because he was brought up this way he didn't question it.
    I think it helps to keep the lines of communication open, they learn the value of family and they watch their parents interact with their own siblings, parents etc in a fun, informal setting.

    Lynn (another one)

  • 12 years ago

    I think it can help a lot with grown boys if you have a passing interest in sports. It gives you a neutral topic to share, one on which they can easily expound on too. You may not have much to converse about re life events (my sons don't like to confide too much), but at least you can sympathize when the Saints/Browns/Bills/Penguins/Sabres blow a game, and you can share in the fun when the S/B/B/P/S win. Talking sports is a huge means of connecting in the business world, and it's a good tactic for staying connected with sons too.

  • 12 years ago

    Lynn, I don't know if there's a secret to staying close w/children as they grow into adults, but I feel i've been blessed to have a great rapport w/each of my 5 kids. We've always kept the lines of communication open, and discussed pretty much every topic under the sun, including s-e-x, even re:spouses in such matters. When they were younger, I tried to make the discussions 'light', sometimes even jokingly, which(I believe)gave them more confidence to discuss most things very openly.

    I have 3 daughters and 2 sons, one who is gay, and being open and honest is always the best policy. Being they are *your* children, they have ways of finding our if the wool is being pulled over their eyes, usually from a sibling.

    I have never used the ploy 'is there anything you need to talk about/discuss' as a way to find something out, but I will ask if there's 'anything new', which(usually)gets them to open up. I have been told 'we'll talk about it later', so i'll wait it out until he/she is ready to open up.

    I am always there for my children no matter what the situation, and have seen them hurt to the point it breaks my heart, but *their* life has to be *their* experiences, be they right or wrong, happy or sad.

    Others may not agree, but my children have always come first, even before my husband, and told him, his work should come first. It always worked, and we never lacked for anything, yet didn't need the very best either. I've always felt children don't ask to come into this world, so it's our responsibility to make it as good of a place as *we* can make it. ;o)

  • 12 years ago

    I have to take exception to the notion that that your kids should not have a choice about attending family functions. In my view that's the definition of overbearing. It may work in some families, particularly if there is no real physical distance involved, but when states separate families as is so often the case, that kind of expectation is unrealistic and puts a hardship on the young adult children. Even if you want to fund their travels to you, are they never allowed to create their own traditions? Once they pick a partner there is another family involved that deserves consideration for holidays, b'days, vacations etc. The BEST thing my mother ever did was give us (DH & me) permission to be with them or my in-laws, or on our own as we saw ft from holiday to holiday. She didn't pressure, demand or guilt us, unlike my MIL who STILL pouts that we took our adult sons on a trip last Xmas. Believe me when I say, the LAST place my sons want to be is with that grandmother for Xmas and it's because of her attitude. My oldest has made plans to meet his girlfriend's parents this Xmas. Will I miss him? Of course. But this is part of life and because I haven't b*tched about it, he made sure he and his GF will be here for Thanksgiving - and that's huge because they're in WA state and we're in Chicago.

    Lynn, I think with any kids, the tighter you hold the more they squirm but it seems to be especially true with boys. When my boys visit they have a lot to accomplish in a short period of time and friends have to come into that mix. I plan for one scheduled family dinner when they're here, just for us. I give them the option of visiting grandparents on their own time or with another bigger family dinner. And I offer a big casual dinner, bbq, whatever, where they can invite a bunch of friends if they want and they usually do, then go out after. I know you've always been very close with your kids and supportive and involved in of all their activities. With your DD finishing high school this year, I'm wondering if part of this issue with your DS is felt more acutely because you see the next phase beginning when your DD goes off to school.

    Note to Joanie38: hang in there - you sound like you're on the ledge.

  • 12 years ago

    I scanned through the responses quick but I wanted to comment about the having your kids attend family functions. I'll preface this by saying it's hard to tell emotion over the computer but I'm not trying to be snarky.

    I'm in my 20s and I really like both DH and my families. Please understand I'm big into family stuff. However, I wouldn't appreciate it if we were told we were expected to attend or do anything. Depending on how it was worded it would down right irritate both of us. I know some events are of more importance than others to be at and most times we try and make it to everything but sometimes it just doesn't work with our schedules. Or, there have been a few times I've hosted a holiday dinner (not Christmas) and we didn't attend the other family functions (the 3-4 other functions) that day. Just be cautious with that.

    My Mom and I went through a tiny bit of an issue with her still talking to me like I was a kid -reminding me of things she's repeated my whole life as if I've never heard her or being demanding/orderly about something. She finally started to realize how it sounded, how I didn't appreciate it, and stopped to an extent. No matter how old I get she'll always be my Mom so some of that will never go away but we have an even better relationship now that she's come to terms with me being an adult and trusts that she and my Dad raised me right.

  • 12 years ago

    Interesting points being made above !; I just remembered that a few times when we would be having dinner with our kids when they were in their 20's and DH would steer the conversation to issues we had meant to discuss with them such as their career or university plans, etc.. but they were always too busy,
    DH would start discussing those issues and the dinner conversation would be boring and I could tell that the kids were bored, I casually mentioned to him afterwards that he should try to be a fun person to have dinner with, not the Dad who has an agenda and serious points to be discussed- we would be having light hearted fun conversations and then he would be the buzz killer by bringing up not so fun topics.

    I suggested he make other dates with them to talk about more serious stuff.

  • 12 years ago

    We have three - DD1/28, DS/26 and DD2/23. Always open and honest with them, and vice versa. I knew way more than I wanted to about what was going on with them, friends and kids at school. They still tell me everything now too. I guess that's good they feel they can. lol

    The older two attended college and settled out of state... way out of state. If they wanted to come home for holidays, we'd put the wheels in motion, but I have never wanted them to feel like they had to come home. Air traveling is a PITA certain days of the year, so we always try to work around the busier days. DD1/CA girl has even taking an overnight to arrive on Christmas morning instead of Eve/day and she said the difference was amazing. Honestly, I wouldn't want them traveling on the busiest days.

    DD1 used to call multiple times a day (we'd roll our eyes too). She mostly sends text now. DS has never been a big caller and I give him his distance. He's coming back around now that he is older. They were close to my mom growing up, so I do ask that they call her once a week. College, Grad school while working, apartments, grocery shopping, etc took/take up time.

    DD2 still lives close by and had a baby two months ago. We are very close. We text a lot. I've seen the baby every single day since he was born. She's gone back to work now and I'm keeping him. We can't imagine it any other way. We are more alike than DD1 and I, and that probably has something to do with it. We (meaning none of us) don't agree with DD1 actions, choices, etc so.. sometimes not knowing what's going on is better. Her life. Her decisions. Her consequences.

    DD1 may be coming back here to live soon. CA just too expensive. DS talks about moving back in 2-3 years, lower cost of living (Chicago now). I think he just wants to have grass outside his door again. ;D

    I don't have a close relationship with my parents, not that it's bad. My sister is very close to my mom but then she had a DH for 12 years that was always "working" (cheating) and she filled the void by spending time with Mom.

    My mom and sister are more alike. DD2 and I are more alike. I think that plays into closer adult relationships in a big way.

    I'd have to say the best way to be close to your young adult children is to always treat them with respect. Listen but don't always give advice - giving an option(s) is always better than "you have to do XYZ." Give them their space, because you actually want space too! No one wants to be smothered. And always always be happy, congratulate, praise, agree wholeheartedly when it's appropriate - no matter what age children are, they always like positive reinforcement from their parents.

  • 12 years ago

    I've seen my parents and my husband's parents get their feeling hurt because they feel that we don't spend enough time together. It's hard when everyone is far flung and people have to accommodate their spouse's family. Plus as the grandchildren get older they have obligations like work, school and sports teams.

    Both my MIL and my Mom are not planners and I think that's part of the problem. I think many times they are vague about what they'd like because they don't want to offend but then the vagueness turns in to inertia and nothing happens. At some point, someone has to step up and say "here's what we'd like to do, here are the dates we can do this, this is what we have planned, what works for you?". And it needs to be done well in advance of the event.

    The other thing I notice in my families is that no one does anything "special". A holiday comes around and we sit around the house, drink, eat and maybe play a game or go for a walk if the weather is nice. I would love if once a year if my Mom or MIL planned a long weekend vacation or trip to a ballgame or something.

    I can't be the "planner" with my husband's family (for various reasons including they already think I'm kind of bossy) and have tried with my parents but they just come up with excuses why the plans won't work.

    So my advice is let your kids know what you want, plan specific things and give your kids plenty of time to work the event into their schedule.

  • 12 years ago

    Forgot to mention something - one thing I did not understand were my cousins who were married. Drove to my grandmother's house (1.5 hours), eat, visited, then had to drive to MIL/FIL house (1.5 hours) to eat/visit on the same day.

    I told my three when they were married, and if they lived here, they were not expected to be at my house every single holiday. But the least everyone could do is to figure out a good schedule - more or less. When I was growing up, my dad's extended family always did Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve. Mom's family did Christmas Day. (They were invited to Thanksgiving.)

  • 12 years ago

    I guess I should soften my stance about expecting adult children to attend family functions. We don't issue directives. My children certainly have a choice to attend, and often can't, but my point was about subordinating the male's side of the family to his spouse's. That's what I see happen, and I think it's imperative to make sure that your son know it's just as important to attend his own family's function as those of his spouse's, and not martyr youself. My SIL kept telling her son "don't worry about it" when it really was important to her, and his new almost-fiancee wants what she wants (which is to be with her family on every occasion) 125 miles away. Later, when the grandchildren show up, he can say "Mom doesn't really care; we'll go to your parents'".

  • 12 years ago

    Thank you all so much for the great advice. I really, sincerely appreciate it . . . so much so that I'm printing all this advice out to keep and refer back to.

    I don't have much free time today, but wanted to start acknowledging as many people as I can, and will get back again later today or tomorrow to continue.
    Again, this advice is wonderful, wise and I know that I'm not the only one here who's reading and taking it to heart.

    Mitchdesj: you were the first to reply and you made me feel better right away. I'm glad to hear that you've noticed, like I have and many of my friends, that sons tend to stay in touch somewhat less, and differently, than daughters. I guess my own DS is very normal in that respect (LOL). "you can't command closeness, it just evolves in times of need and it depends on how they mature and where life brings them." Very wise advice that I'm taking to heart. Thank you!

    Forhgtv: I really appreciate and like your "from the kid's perspective". I makes a lot of sense!

    Olychick: Thank you for posting that because I'm going to start living that advice today! Very, very good and wise point!!

    Pesky: yes, I can see how FB helps to keep us connected. Sometimes, as much as you want to share a thought or idea or just check in, the time one person has to talk is not a good time for the other person. FB allows the message to be read when it's convenient. BTW, I hope all works out well for your DS.

    Blfenton: good point!!! I totally agree, but am glad you mentioned it because it's a wisdom we all need to be reminded of.

    (((Joanie))): I feel your pain and hope that you're able to find some answers and wisdoms here in this thread that will help you deal with your DS.

    I'll be back later to read more and respond.

  • 12 years ago

    Thank you Lynn and DLM for reaching out to me when it's not even my thread. I'm having such an awful week with my son, but you all have helped me more than you know.

  • 12 years ago

    I shouldn't post late at night.
    "it's just as important to attend his own family's function as those of his spouse's"
    "My SIL kept telling her son "don't worry about it" when it really was important to her, and his new almost-fiancee wants what she wants (which is to be with her family on every occasion) 125 miles away. Later, when the grandchildren show up, he can say "Mom doesn't really care; we'll go to your parents'"
    I get it. Good points. You should definitely be honest and express it would be nice for them to be there, etc. I'm sure not all guys are like this but honestly, I'm more into the family thing than DH and he's needs an extra boost from me at times for both sides of our families.

  • 12 years ago

    Dlm2000- you can take an exception to about kids not having a choice about attending family functions - if you had read my previous post you would know that my kids are 22 and 24 and still live at home. I have 3 siblings that have children and they are raising their children the same way - a couple of them are in relationships and yes, they will do 2 christmas dinners in one day or 2 thanksgiving dinners in one day. One family lives a plane ride a way and for family celebrations (weddings, births etc) they are expected to attend.

    When I made my comments I was talking about my experiences and my way of keeping lines of communication open - I don;t believe I was issuing a dictate of any sort.

    It may not work for other families but it is the way I was raised and it is the way my children were raised. It might not work for you but it doesn't make it wrong, nor does it make me a bad parent.

  • 12 years ago

    blfenton I didn't call you a bad parent. Yours was not the only response with that basic suggestion, and I didn't call the other poster a bad parent, either. I said in my opinion, demanding adult children to attend a gathering is overbearing. You're certainly entitled to your opinion and to do what works in your family. That's what we all do and I think we were all giving LynninNM suggestions based on our personal experiences and feelings on the subject. I've experienced the obligations of trying to pull double duty at various holidays in my own family and have seen the difficulties it has caused my SILs, nieces and friends. Even now, when I no longer have my own parents to consider and it's only my in-laws, the command performance atmosphere has their own adult children (54 yr old twins and a 43 yr old) feeling obligated at best and resentful more often than not. Obviously there are other factors at play here because in loving, mutually respectful relationships, those feelings are not the norm. But I think that's the key here - mutual respect and that's where I was headed in my post to Lynn. I did read all the posts but honestly, as I'm reading I often don't connect one post with a previous one by the same poster so didn't connect your 2 posts in my mind. My sons, now 22 & 26, have both spent Thanksgiving elsewhere - with a girlfriend's family or a roommate so in our family, just because our sons are/were here didn't automatically mean they had to spend the holiday with us. That's the dynamic that works in our family and *IMO* when you loosen the grip on adult children it allows them to return to you on their own terms and that's far more meaningful than on demand. But the bottom line is, I don't think you're a bad parent and I'm sorry if that's how it sounded to you.

  • 12 years ago

    I'm not seeing any "mean spirited" posts here. You all are just wonderful giving me/us your own personal opinions and ideas and I am so very thankful for them all!

    Dee: I don't think you "got wordy" at all! Hearing about all these different family dynamics helps me understand that there are many "right" ways to interact and, as you've mentioned, 'the new relationship can be just as rewarding in a different way".

    Yaya: yes, very good points!!!

    Oakley: I envy your wonderful relationships and hope I'm there someday, too. How wonderful that you have that with your DIL, as well. I think this scares me more than anything!

    BLfenton: good points! You're a great mom, I can tell.

    AWM: what a great suggestion! We're all big OU (University of Oklahoma) Sooners fans, so it won't be a stretch for me. I know that DS and I could have some good chats about them. Thanks . . . I'm incorporating this into lots of our future chats!

    Patty cakes: you're outlook is very much my own. I'm so glad to hear that it's served you well. I also like your ideas on how to encourage good dialog. It sounds like you have a very good life with them all. Thanks for sharing it with us!

  • 12 years ago

    Shee, I really appreciate the view from someone your age! I hear you and appreciate your ideas. Yes, I do think that there are times with my 27 y/o son, that I come across more like a worried, concerned mom than as a mom who has confidence in him as a fellow, capable adult.The funny thing is that I do have confidence in him, as I'm sure your mom has in you . . . but it still sneaks out sometimes and this does irritate him. You've made me realize that I need to think first about how to couch things with him. With both my kids, actually. Thank you!

    Mitchdesj: Yes, good point!!! Family meals should be enjoyable so that everyone likes being there together. I admire the way you're handling that very much.

    Allison: great advice! All of it: "I'd have to say the best way to be close to your young adult children is to always treat them with respect. Listen but don't always give advice - giving an option(s) is always better than "you have to do XYZ." Give them their space, because you actually want space too! No one wants to be smothered. And always always be happy, congratulate, praise, agree wholeheartedly when it's appropriate - no matter what age children are, they always like positive reinforcement from their parents." Thanks!

    Deee: I think that's some great advice. Plan ahead and give everyone time to make their own decisions as to where they'll go and when.

    And, Joanie, hang in there. This may be primarily a decorating web site, but as you can see, we have a wonderful caring group of people and lots of great advice. We're good hand-holders, too, when that's all you need :~)

    As I mentioned earlier, I'm printing this entire thread out. Your advice is something I want to read and digest now and reread many times in the future years, Big, big thanks to all of you!

  • 12 years ago

    The most important piece of advice I can think of is to treat your kids as the age they are. So your 27 year old son, he is an adult. He has a masters degree and is in the army serving our country. Wow! When you interact with him, think about how you would interact with someone who has his exact same credentials but who ISN'T your son.

    Not to say that you dismiss your personal relationship or history, but that you don't treat him like you did when he was 16, or even 22. You treat him as a 27 yo who has made some wonderful accomplishments and taken on great responsibilities.

    I think that recognizing our kids have grown up and making sure we don't still try to baby them goes a long way toward a good relationship.

  • 12 years ago

    I think all relationships depend on the rhythms of those involved. Communication is good and understanding who your son is, personality wise, should also help. I like the idea of one family dinner per visit as noted above.

    For us, DH and I are pretty private people so we do not talk about a lot of things with our parents. His mother was quite bothered that he did not mention when he had a vasectomy (she thought it was great he had one, not great he did not share this). To us, it was private. His Mom calls once a week, and she talks for an hour or so and then generally hangs up.

    We try honor our parents positions in our lives. Therefore, we try to go Dallas once a year so they can see the grandkids, but generally not on holidays. This is the most we can committ too. They would be able to see the grandkids more if they were willing to come out here. I about choked on my cookies when they said it was easier for us to travel (4 kids one of whom is autistic, another who is diabetic and has other dietary restrictions, no simple stops at McDonald's along the way, that's for sure). They are 60 and have no major health problems. A 10-12 hour day in the car is not easy for anyone.
    I will say then it is helpful if parents are willing to meet their children half way, so to speak, recognizing the difficulties that young families often have too.

    Over time, I think some of the situation will also dictated by proximity, where your children ultimately settle. You are such a warm and caring individual, I have no doubt that you will make a fantastic in-law when that time comes.

  • 12 years ago

    My parents and I are very close, and we share information about *most* things, and it was that way as my brother and I were growing up. Now, he's married to Miss Everything is Private, and they are no longer close to my parents. I agree, you don't have to share private things, but, it could cost you the closeness you want to feel towards that person. My brother thinks my parents world evolves around us and our children, wonder why?

  • 12 years ago

    Perhaps I should also add that it is imperative that your children understand that if they should come to you with something private, that you can be discrete. In the case of my in-laws, things we do not care to broadcast easily become talking points or they have no problem forwarding a picture of the car you are purchasing to many in their e-mail loop with the price attached, etc. I have also overheard my MIL taking to hubby while she was in an outlet store discussing his aunt's breast reconstructive surgery. If that were me, I would certainly prefer that to not be overhead by a store of strangers. You could say in our situation part of our lack of closeness is representative of the fact that we do not share the same ideals, which is also made apparent by the fact that they often question our carefully considered decisions on how we parent. We keep quiet to keep the peace but it is a major inhibition on any closeness.

    I guess in response to the question of interacting, the lesson here could be (as with most parenting) choose your battles.

    All that being said, we still visit, take their phone calls, etc. When they are elderly, we will of course take care of them and would allow them to live in our home, should they wish. We belive in honoring your parents but as far as interweaving our lives with theirs and developing that closeness, unfortunately, it is not really happening.

  • 12 years ago

    I share nothing with my MIL because she is a mean-spirited gossip, my children have also had to learn that lesson the hard way. It could be that Miss Everything is Private has had a similar situation within her own family. It could also be the way she was raised or perhaps a way of cutting off the closeness that your parents and bother had previously enjoyed.

  • 12 years ago

    Thanks to everyone for hugs and good thoughts about me and my son. We had a long talk last night and things are much better. I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. We just have a combination of me having a hard time trusting his decision making ability and letting him go and him, at age 18 feeling like he needs to answer to NO ONE about his whereabouts, plans, ect. I was feeling like I was losing him, and he's not much of a talker anyway. I have a good son and we've raised him well. I need to trust that now. Thank you everyone for this thread, everyone's insight, and for just being here. And thank you lowspark for your viewpoint. I needed to hear that.

  • 12 years ago

    I know I'm late to this thread -- but I just found the conversations side of Home Decorating Forum and this thread hits home.

    My son is 40, with a wife of 4 years, a 16 month old daughter and child #2 on the way. We do not communicate on a routine basis (scheduled daily, weekly or monthly calls), but we see each other about every 6 weeks. I keep in mind two events: a tearful 10 yr old telling me I always make things right for him and a 32 year old who told me his father and I (divorced) are the most important people in his life. Granted, his wife and children are now the most important people in his life, but he still treats me with love and respect. I gladly sit in the "backseat" of his life and rejoice in his happiness and the fine choices he has made.

  • 12 years ago

    Thanks for your post, Javachik. I've been copying and saving all this great advice here to reread as needed. It has really helped me come to grips with this new-but-normal phase of our lives. And ultimately, like you, I'm glad to take a backseat in my son's life and as you so wonderfully put it, "rejoice in his happiness and the fine choices he has made"


  • 12 years ago

    Such a GREAT topic!!

    My story~~We have two adult children, DS 34 and DD 32. We live in the center of the country and have one child on each coast. Our son calls weekly, our DD not so much. (I've learned recently, however, that she is a GREAT texter, lol, so we now communicate frequently via text.) Once they started college, I backed off w/the motherly advice (unless asked), and upon college graduation the advice ceased completely (unless asked, and, yes, our advice has been sought after on occasion). I believe it is imperative that adult children be treated as we would treat any other adult. We don't pry, allow them to share w/us what they're comfortable sharing, and don't place demands on them.

    The fact that DD doesn't seem to want a "close" relaionship has bothered me; I'd love to talk w/her more often. But, when we're together, she is the most affectionate daughter a parent could ask for. Even at her age she will always walk down the street w/her arm around me, tell me many times during our visit how much she loves me, and shower me w/hugs (same w/her dad), so I just need to accept that we are loved and more frequent contact isn't in the cards for now. She called a couple of days ago asking my advice on a couple of personal relationship issues and I take comfort in those times and the wonderful notes she writes expressing how much she appreciates and loves us. Also, her personality is just different than DS's; he's a talker and she's more quiet.

    Our son told us recently that he would like to think we would all enjoy being together even if we weren't related and I took that as quite a compliment.

    I remember when DH and I were first married and his parents had expectations as to how often we should see each other; oh, how I resented that! It placed a wedge between us. Fortunately, DH didn't bend to their expectations. My MIL is a wonderful woman but doesn't hesitate to offer suggestions as to how we should live our lives. I will NEVER, EVER do that just as I wouldn't w/any of my friends.

    So, Lynn, my advice would be to follow their lead. Give them the space they need. You've given them the life skills they need to be productive, responsible, independent adults and they are eager to put these skills to use. I wouldn't be surprised that with time your son will want more frequent communication but right now he is establishing his independence and probably anxious to demonstrate to you that he can navigate through adulthood w/the skills you've provided him.

  • 12 years ago

    PS In regard to how much time he spends w/you when he is on leave, I think if most of us were to look back at ourselves at that age, how many of us would do anything different? Spending time w/our friends was FUN! (I'm not suggesting you aren't fun but I doubt you're as fun as his friends, KWIM)?

    PPS...A big heartfelt thank you to your son for his service!!!

    PPPS...Apologies for being late to the party; I forget about this ide of the forum!