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how to be good parents to adult kids
Old 02-19-2007, 02:30 AM   #1
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how to be good parents to adult kids

ok, i just read Nord's thread about his PIL and considering the conversation i had w/ my dad today i'm wondering if it's possible for there to be good relationships w/ parents in adult life?

i moved about 2 years ago - to be closer w/ the parents after having the girls - they help me out a ton and are wonderfully supportive in most aspects. but the thing that makes me steam is when they give me advice about things that are plain as day, or get overly concerned about something with the kids, all of which for some dumb reason pisses me off.

i have a strong independent streak - i was the first kid to go off to college, lived in the east coast and far away until now so i've enjoyed a totally different relationship - always the one coming home and visiting - happy times.

for all those years, and most of my life they hardly ever knew where i was, who i was with etc - even as a kid - i went where i wanted, etc.

now i find myself w/ cute kids and grandparents who think that i don't know how/when/what to feed them, that their brite grand-daughter must be developmentally behind because she wasn't writing letters (she's four and she is doing that now but for the past 6 months they were pestering me - i said she was fine stop worrying and don't push her - i work with child devmt experts for goodness sakes!)...

anyhoo you get the drift.

i "imagine" that when my kids grow up at some point i will loosen/let go of the reigns and let them run their lives (mostly!)

i already stress about everything related to the kids anyhoo - it doesn't help for them to ask about it! but perhaps i'm just having the wrong attitude? arrrg.

anyone have good stories to share about their parents and how they did it - or should i just prepare to torture the ninos?
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Re: how to be good parents to adult kids
Old 02-19-2007, 05:53 AM   #2
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Re: how to be good parents to adult kids

OP-Just remember "your day is coming" especially with daughters as I read your post. : I have read some of these posts about dealing with parents, but have not seen much about dealing with the kids. So I will butt in here from the "other side" a bit. I have 9 Grandkids within the family of 2 Sons and 2 Daughters. It has taken me many years to learn NEVER NEVER to offer advice unless ASKED and then BE CAREFUL. I try to have good relations with all of my kids and they try with me/us BUT it can be tough SOMETIMES and on certain SUBJECTS to maintain those "good" relations. No one likes to be criticized and somehow coming from a parent it seem to really hurts a kid. Also, you will notice later in life, if not sooner, that your advice, no matter how good, correct, true and close to perfect it is, will almost ALWAYS ignored if they get some contrary advice from a "friend" they met like recently. Try to avoid the "I told you so" later, it will not help.
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Re: how to be good parents to adult kids
Old 02-19-2007, 07:54 AM   #3
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Re: how to be good parents to adult kids

Quote:
Originally Posted by bright eyed
ok, i just read Nord's thread about his PIL and considering the conversation i had w/ my dad today i'm wondering if it's possible for there to be good relationships w/ parents in adult life?



Bright eyes: It's a slippery slope, but yeah, I think it's possible.

(Approaching it from Old Army Guy's perspective).

His advice to not give "unsolicited advice" to adult children is wise, but difficult to follow. It has taken me a long time, but I think I've finally got it.

I took the cure about 5 years ago, and when I get together with my kids now, a lot of laughing & sharing mutual interests have replaced the "eye-rolls". ;

As far as your parents are concerned, maybe a discussion about this "problem" would be worthwhile.

My wife occassionally reads this board, and I am reasonably sure that my oldest also visits as a guest from time to time.

Had I not changed my ways, there would have probably been a post,
"If you think Nords parents are hard to deal with, let me tell you about Jarhead"

Anyway, I hope your parents take the "cure".



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Re: how to be good parents to adult kids
Old 02-19-2007, 08:03 AM   #4
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Re: how to be good parents to adult kids

I decided I never wanted to be a meddling mother in law so my policy is to zip it .Makes for a much happier relationship .
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Re: how to be good parents to adult kids
Old 02-19-2007, 08:08 AM   #5
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Re: how to be good parents to adult kids

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Originally Posted by Jarhead*

Had I not changed my ways, there would have probably been a post,
"If you think Nords parents are hard to deal with, let me tell you about Jarhead"
There was, but I'm unable to find it. Nords probably deleted it.

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Re: how to be good parents to adult kids
Old 02-19-2007, 08:17 AM   #6
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Re: how to be good parents to adult kids

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Originally Posted by REWahoo!
There was, but I'm unable to find it. Nords probably deleted it.

Thanks Nords. (I don't care what anybody else thinks, you're alright in my book).
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Re: how to be good parents to adult kids
Old 02-19-2007, 08:46 AM   #7
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Re: how to be good parents to adult kids

My/our parents were not advice givers, nor did we seek their advice.... we were waaaaay smarter than any of the 4 of them.

We, however, did not appreciate what a good thing that was, so we've been much more liberal with advice, recommendations, etc with our only child who is in his 30's. My DH is not so much one to advise anyone,,,, me however... ut oh.... But it is posts like this one that helps to remind me to ZIP IT. I try really hard... and will keep on trying.

I think Bright Eyes, that if your parents are helping you with the children & are otherwise supportive, that you should try to reframe your response to their advice. Listen patiently & try not to feel bitter/steamed with them. It is the price you pay for having them close & involved. There I go....... giving advice again!
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Re: how to be good parents to adult kids
Old 02-19-2007, 09:04 AM   #8
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Re: how to be good parents to adult kids

We, too, try to suppress the urge to give advice -- more or less successfully -- and raised our kids to be independent. Now that we're some distance from them, the relationships seem to be good but... we're pretty much off their radar screens. We talk by phone regularly, but it has the quality of a news update rather than the kind of closer interactions we had hoped for. Victims of our own perhpas slightly misguided success, I guess.

It's a tough balance to achieve. We hope and plan to be nearer to at least one set of kids some time after FIRE.
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Re: how to be good parents to adult kids
Old 02-19-2007, 09:25 AM   #9
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Re: how to be good parents to adult kids

Thanks, Jarhead & REW, the coffee's cleaned off the monitor now!

Quote:
Originally Posted by bright eyed
ok, i just read Nord's thread about his PIL and considering the conversation i had w/ my dad today i'm wondering if it's possible for there to be good relationships w/ parents in adult life?
No.

Well, OK, maybe. My mother died (breast cancer) before we had a chance to develop an adult relationship. My father hasn't gone nuts over his granddaughter like I've heard happens to some people. He doesn't like to travel now and he's not in a "convenient" place to visit so we've been pretty much doing our own things. I have it on good authority from a number of unbiased sources that I was a PITA tough kid to raise so maybe family isn't that important to him right now. I haven't been pursuing a closer relationship either but maybe someday I'll change that.

My PILs have always doted on their granddaughter (as they've shared with many Elderhostel grandparents, too). They're generally playful & loving with her, however they haven't been that much actual help to us parents. In the last five-plus years there's been one evening of babysitting, one failed sleepover (our kid's problem, not their fault), one "whisk away for an afternoon of kid fun stuff", and a couple afternoons of TV at Grandma's. If something doesn't work the first time they never try it again.

The good news is that they haven't interfered with much advice, either. Spouse says that's because they don't know anything about raising kids, but it's also because they're just not that involved personally with the kid. It's mostly about them being grandparents, not about their grandkid. Comments about choosing classes for 10th grade won't lead to a discussion about what the kid is trying to do-- it'll invoke a rant about Hawaii being one of the nation's lowest-ranked schools. Comments about new basketball sneakers won't be part of a discussion of the sport-- just a rant about the high cost of sneakers. If they see her taking ibuprofen for muscle pains they'll give us an alarmist article about dangerous stomach-eating drugs. As we look back on their time with her, most of it has been spent sharing the family history. As we look back on their time with us, most of it has been criticism.

I guess they take their grandkid's comments from their own perspective instead of exploring hers. (Spouse is emphatically nodding her head.) Their instances of hypocritical or casually racist behavior have also been noticed by their grandkid, and that speaks far louder than their words. Overall I think their presence has been better than their absence-- for their granddaughter, anyway.

But the best news is that one's parents can be used as a mirror to improve our own parenting. Spouse and I have had many Dr. Phil opportunities to reflect on our family backgrounds. We've also noticed that today's "developmental problems" seem pretty funny six months later. ("What the heck were we worrying about?!?") When my MIL rants about the schools or shoes we take a look at the choices and make whatever change seems necessary. If my MIL shuts our kid down by criticizing something that's important to her, we talk with our kid about how to listen to people without criticizing. We work really really hard to avoid channeling our parents, even if it means that we occasionally have to ask each other if we're behaving like them. So I hope that their example has been turned into a force for good.

I've learned a lot. The last five years have dispelled all my romantic notions about family togetherness, and I'm more realistic about my expectations with my own father. I don't think I'll ever love my PILs as much as I did when we were all younger. Spouse & I need a break from her parents and I think the distance will help us all to get along better. But our granddaughter has grown to know her grandparents better than I knew mine, and that has to be a good thing. Even their not-so-good examples have been turned into good discussions with our kid.

I wonder if some grandparents decide that they're going to do a better job with the grandkids than they did with their kids, and I can see where that would lead to interfering with the parents. I also wonder if some grandparents get drawn into old family dynamics and end up competing with their kids again or "teaching" them. But in most cases I'd have to say that I wish our kid's grandparents had been more involved in our kid's life than less involved, even if greater involvement means we parents have to take a deep breath and stand back once in a while.

So be careful what you ask for, bright eyes! When we all become grandparents we'll be able to remind ourselves that our job is to lighten our kid's parenting loads, not to add to them.

One other comment-- it really pisses me off to see my PILs refer to other 40-somethings as "kids", using the implication that they lack wisdom & experience. It's clear to spouse & I that we're still kids, they don't ask our advice in things that we know about, and they feel we frequently disregard their advice. (They're right-- we think it's bad advice.) We may have over 40 years of naval leadership & experience at dealing death & destruction, but in their eyes we're just the little kids they had to clean up after. At least we understand how this triggers our emotions. When it comes to fighting about being treated like a kid or letting our own kid enjoy her time with her grandparents, we've learned to back off. We can't fix our parents' behavior, but we can change our own behavior and how we feel about theirs.

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Re: how to be good parents to adult kids
Old 02-19-2007, 10:33 AM   #10
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Re: how to be good parents to adult kids

I think my parents were so happy that I turned out to be anything fairly successful, that they didn't feel the urge to be critical very often...

The primary subject was usually my lack of religion...
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Re: how to be good parents to adult kids
Old 02-19-2007, 11:56 AM   #11
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Re: how to be good parents to adult kids

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords
Thanks, Jarhead & REW, the coffee's cleaned off the monitor now!
No.

My father hasn't gone nuts over his granddaughter like I've heard happens to some people. He doesn't like to travel now and he's not in a "convenient" place to visit so we've been pretty much doing our own things.

So let's see now. The Senior Nords has missed out on the family drama that is always evolving, and has chosen to live in the "Rocky's", spending his time in high elevation hikes, going to Nat'l Parks, and counting Buffalo's.

Hmmmmmmmm. Sounds good, except for the really short golf season.

Maybe a small South Pacific Island.
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Re: how to be good parents to adult kids
Old 02-19-2007, 12:45 PM   #12
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Re: how to be good parents to adult kids

mom loved being grandma to my brother's kids. she got them on weekends until they became too much for her to handle with her alzheimer's. was hard on the kids but luckily they've seemed to have kept mostly just the loving memories of grandma.

on the one hand, mom would never overstep her bounds (well, not as much as i do). on the other hand our family often discusses most issues with each other so there is always plenty of room to offer advice on the other person's life. we can be pretty ruthless we will not go unheard when someone isn't living their life how we think they should to their potential.

just the other week my brother brought to my attention a problem his eldest is having. together we brainstormed: what could be going on in this kids life to make him behave in such a way and what can we think of that would correct the problem. i didn't particularly care for my bother's solution and i let him know. that didn't stop him from implementing it however and so far, i'm right, so there.

but we don't give or take advice as a personal attack. in a world where you don't know what's gonna work, i would never throw an "i told you so" in my brother's face. we see it all simply as differences of opinion, never attaching pride to that. as we value each other's opinions, we use each other to bounce ideas off. we offer and take criticism constructively and we trust that we are looking out for the best interest of the other.

i think it makes a big difference on how you view your parents' intention, even if they are meddling. family is the best place to push buttons. they're so easy and it's often amusing. but there is no rule that says you have to let them push your buttons or even that you are not allowed to rewire them. keep in mind: they are your buttons.

my brother went into an old tape (as i put it) the other day and tried to push my buttons. he's not always so happy that i'm not working and so he's advising me to get a job. "we wouldn't have to sell the house if you had a job" he says to me. i said i don't want to work, i want to travel, that i've been dreaming of travel my entire life. but it was the middle of his work day, he was tired and he tried to bait me into a fight. "that isn't real," he says to me. "you only want to travel because that's what people dream of when they're working."

"and i suppose," i said, "when i am traveling, i will be dreaming of work?"

he stopped for a second, realizing that i had already rewired my buttons, caught himself and smiled. always leave them smiling, especially your parents. they won't be here forever. you're retired and you have the time to do that now.

edit: ps. how interesting that you don't have a problem getting advice from forum members but you do from your parents. wouldn't you be shocked to find out that one of these usernames is really your mom.
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Re: how to be good parents to adult kids
Old 02-19-2007, 01:15 PM   #13
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Re: how to be good parents to adult kids

i think part of the issue is that because my parents are soo helpful and involved - it is difficult to communicate different perspectives about parenting, nutrition etc.

i consider myself a good mommy and particularly with baby one i spent a lot of time reading, investigating consulting other parents what to do about everything - i guess it annoys me that they don't see or acknowledge that i did a good job or know that i have obsessively researched thoughtfully considered my options.

a big conflict occured about the golden arches- "dad - if you take her to mcdonalds every day, buy her a happy meal she will get grossly overweight and have the wrong idea that we all get presents every day..." my youngest sister fell victim to the mcdonalds meal plan and had high cholesterol by age 10!

we've finally gotten her down to once a week (she plays on the giant play structure), no toy no chicken nuggets! and half the time my daughter is reminding my dad

they are absolutely supportive and kind - i think it is also just some cultural differences - coming from an east asian country - you're supposed to just listen to whatever your parents - or anyone older than you - tells you...and i did NOT grow up that way - which is what makes me chuckle.

our parents worked all the time so we basically raised ourselves most of the time, did what we wanted, and with very little understanding of our native culture...it's funny now when they try to remind me that "back home" i'd just have to listen.

i like to then remind my mom that is why she moved thousands of miles away from her super patriarchal old school dad!

i will try to work on biting my tongue - i think my own "mommy rage" (tired, hormonal, etc etc) comes out and it has been more around then not

of course you get what you give - so i'm sure i have something coming my way once these little cuties grow up one day! but of course my "plan" is to acknowledge that they are grown and that they can make their own decisions as we fondly reminisce about their childhoods... he he he
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Re: how to be good parents to adult kids
Old 02-19-2007, 01:25 PM   #14
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Re: how to be good parents to adult kids

Quote:
Originally Posted by HFWR
I think my parents were so happy that I turned out to be anything fairly successful, that they didn't feel the urge to be critical very often...

The primary subject was usually my lack of religion...
Do we have the same parents? Just add that the religion thing is still in the present tense - especially as it relates to the kids.
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Re: how to be good parents to adult kids
Old 02-19-2007, 03:05 PM   #15
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Re: how to be good parents to adult kids

Well, those here would be bugged by how my mom likes to advise me - to get a job! She thinks I should write a book, or childrens books, or go back to school to become a vet or sell real estate or become a professor at a community college, or conduct tours for old folks. She has a hard time just letting me be.

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Re: how to be good parents to adult kids
Old 02-19-2007, 03:07 PM   #16
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Re: how to be good parents to adult kids

My parents don't give us any advice on how to raise their grandcats. However, my mom continues to give advice on health issues (she is into herbs and alternative health) while my father shares his opinions that Bush is the anti-Christ.
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Re: how to be good parents to adult kids
Old 02-19-2007, 03:08 PM   #17
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Re: how to be good parents to adult kids

Quote:
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My parents don't give us any advice on how to raise their grandcats. However, my mom continues to give advice on health issues (she is into herbs and alternative health) while my father shares his opinions that Bush is the anti-Christ.
I think you dad KNOWS how to be a good dad already then!
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Re: how to be good parents to adult kids
Old 02-19-2007, 03:18 PM   #18
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Re: how to be good parents to adult kids

Quote:
Originally Posted by bssc
my father shares his opinions that Bush is the anti-Christ.
We can't even discuss landscaping or gardening around my MIL for fear that someone will accidentally utter the B-word... and off she goes!
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Re: how to be good parents to adult kids
Old 02-19-2007, 07:35 PM   #19
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Re: how to be good parents to adult kids

My kids treat me like **** pretty much ignore me.

My son is 35, and will only talk about his son, his karate or--rarely--his job. If I bring up any other topic, he get offended, and cuts me off for months on end.

My daughter is 30. She's become a born-again evangelical Christian, and follows her husband in declaring me (due to my Quaker social/liberal ideas and interracial re-marriage) an Agent of Satan.

Their mother & I divorced about 20 years ago, and both kids declared 100% for Mom and 0% for me (their mother had all the dollars at that time). During the half-decade period of my 'wilderness years,' they both accepted payments/bribes not to communicate with me in any way. This attitude continues to the present. I don't get birthday cards or letters. Very rarely phone calls. Some e-mails. They studiously ignore DW, to whom I've been married for 5 years and 'known' for 10 years total.

Except when they need $$. Then it's close, frequent contact SWOOP! I get to ask, "how much?" and then say "here."
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Re: how to be good parents to adult kids
Old 02-19-2007, 08:00 PM   #20
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Re: how to be good parents to adult kids

Quote:
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My kids treat me like **** pretty much ignore me.

My son is 35, and will only talk about his son, his karate or--rarely--his job. If I bring up any other topic, he get offended, and cuts me off for months on end.

My daughter is 30. She's become a born-again evangelical Christian, and follows her husband in declaring me (due to my Quaker social/liberal ideas and interracial re-marriage) an Agent of Satan.

Their mother & I divorced about 20 years ago, and both kids declared 100% for Mom and 0% for me (their mother had all the dollars at that time). During the half-decade period of my 'wilderness years,' they both accepted payments/bribes not to communicate with me in any way. This attitude continues to the present. I don't get birthday cards or letters. Very rarely phone calls. Some e-mails. They studiously ignore DW, to whom I've been married for 5 years and 'known' for 10 years total.

Except when they need $$. Then it's close, frequent contact SWOOP! I get to ask, "how much?" and then say "here."
They treat you like crap and you give them money?
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