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AARP: Are we too close to our kids?
Old 12-11-2012, 06:07 PM   #1
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AARP: Are we too close to our kids?

This was in my monthly AARP magazine. I've discussed this very issue many times with a multitude of friends. I was born in the 50's, and I assure you I couldn't wait to get out of that house. That certainly doesn't seem to be the case with today's kiddos. Our adult (20 somethings) kids like us, call and text us often, and we enjoy one another's company when they are home for visits. The oldest did live with us for about 6 months, and it was beginning to fray the relationship, so dad gave him an exit date, which he adhered to. But it didn't seem to bother him to be a mole in our basement. I couldn't have imagined doing that at 25.

Here's the article:

Are You Too Close to Your Kids? - About Parenting, Young Adults - AARP


Anyway, I'd like to know what others think, and why it's now so different from our generational relationships with our parents. Maybe it was just the turmoil of the 70's.... Who knows.
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Old 12-11-2012, 06:38 PM   #2
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I don't find the article to be true of our relationships with two kids. They did and do want to have us out of their hair, so to speak. What allows them to move away and maintain whatever life they chose? Education! So, kids, get a degree that leads to a career where you can maintain independence.

As for daily or weekly contact, there is enabling technology that makes it so much easier to make meaningful contact. Quick example. Son is down below. Sent me an email yesterday at 5PM as I left work, telling me of a great web hosting deal. Since we talked previously about the topic, he was actually sending me a nudge (and needed me for the transaction in US). Clever boy. So I've spent a few hours setting this up, finding out how to transfer data, etc. I've sent a few emails his way, and asked obvious questions in a playful way. The result is that we're extending a virtual relationship that is only possible because of many advances that did not exist for me and Dad.
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Old 12-11-2012, 06:54 PM   #3
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What allows them to move away and maintain whatever life they chose? Education!
I agree, both of ours are engineers, and one lives 4 hours away and the other 8 hours away. They seek our opinions on things they are doing in their adult lives, via text, tweets and emails, and I love it. Just can't imagine my parents being on Twitter, had we had it back then.
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Old 12-11-2012, 07:23 PM   #4
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I don't find it to be true of ours either. Our children, age 24 to 29 have their own lives to lead and are busy doing so. We talk a couple or more times a week. We can keep up on important stuff thru email, texting or FB. They live either an hour or two hours away. Convenient enough if they want to meet us for a lunch on a week-end they can do so without taking up a lot of their time. We do see them during holidays and birthdays and yearly beach vacation.....etc.
I suppose we believe our children need time to develop their adult life and we "support them" in that process. We are also fortunate, to date anyway, that they have all launched effectively. Doesn't mean circumstances can not change.

I also don't know that the author of this article is not entirely correct when they state the baby boomers are the anomaly. None of my parents brothers and sisters lived with my grandparents or were intimately involved with their daily lives. That would be the WWII generation.
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Old 12-11-2012, 07:27 PM   #5
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What? Four posts and no one is on an anti AARP rant yet? Slow night.
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Old 12-11-2012, 09:06 PM   #6
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I think it depends on the family and individuals. Two of my boomer brothers were late bloomers and stayed at home or a block away in an apartment until they were each nearly 30. However, both now make WAY more money than my husband and I do and travel the world. They were both shy and it took time to start their careers. One got a masters degree in engineering and yet worked 5 years in a menial job, because he was scared of job interviews. Now, he works with a top world wide engineering firm and supervises projects all over.. The other brother ended up in the arts and is invited all over the world for shows. I think both really needed our parents emotional support, even though I know my parents had concerns back then. But it all turned out.

I couldn't wait to get out myself. My children were fairly independent, but more affectionate than we were with our parents. They always say "I love you, Mom", and hug a lot. I didn't ever do that until my folks got really old.
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Old 12-11-2012, 09:14 PM   #7
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I told my sister the other day, regarding her 13, 11, and 9 year old that if they didn't want to move out and move on from the house when they turned 18, she was doing this whole parenting thing all wrong!

I can say I left at 17 and never moved back again. I see my parents maybe every month or so, talk every few weeks, but don't really get involved in each other's lives. They live here in town.
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Old 12-11-2012, 09:48 PM   #8
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We started buying our kids luggage for Christmas presents when they were 16. It worked, at 18 they each went a long way to college. DS came back for 12 weeks after graduating but left as soon as he got a job.

DW and I both left home never to return at age 18, and back then my parents didn't own a car and didn't even have a phone in the house so contact was mostly via letters.

These days we are in very regular contact with our kids via e-mail and Facebook, even when we go on long trips overseas.

Our parents gave us roots and wings, so we passed on that to our children as best we could.
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Old 12-11-2012, 10:00 PM   #9
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We are moving down an interesting track. Our kids are independent and have lived far far away from us for many years. We are all now back in the States but we are in the Midwest and the kids are on each coast. Our son remains very independent. Our daughter and son-in-law, knowing we were considering a cooperative living arrangement, ask if we wanted to set up a multi-generational home. Our son-in-law is from a culture where this is an expected pattern. So, beginning next summer, our experiment will begin. Right now, we expect to move to a new location, as does our daughter. It will be an interesting experiment. As a side note, I was wondering how often this might be taking place. In my research, I learned Lennar Homes has 3 new house designs for multi-generational housing. So, they think there is money to be made and some type of movement is happening.

As for many of our parents (boomers), we coincidentally were discussing them the other day. From the story my parents told me, they reached independence at a young age during the depression and then WWII, drove their independence to a new level. This must of rubbed off on the raising of the boomers. However, we clearly raised our children differently. Not sure where this all goes but I feel that the experience of my parents were very different from mine.
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Old 12-11-2012, 10:35 PM   #10
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I don't know. I guess I think it is more family culture dependent.

I left home when I went away to law school at 21. Once I was out of school my parents either visited me or I visited them every few months. I lived 5 hours away and this was pre-cell phones so we didn't talk on the phone all that often. However, in my mom's family it was common that adult kids who lived in the area would usually see their parents at least once a week. They were all very close.

Now (my mom is in her 80s) she expects me to call her at least once a week and if I don't she will chew me out.

Until my dad died (he was in his mid-70s) I still saw my parents every few months.

My mom's closest friends are her siblings and that just seemed normal to me (I'm an only child).

I got married in my 30s and my husband's family seemed strange. His parents were only an hour away and he rarely say them (it seemed rare to me as compared to my parents). He had adult children (at that time they were college aged to mid-20s). He didn't talk to them that often. He could go months without talking to the ones who were married and out on their own.

My parents were always complaining they didn't see enough of me, but DH seemed perfectly OK to see his kids a couple of times a year.

Twenty years later things really haven't changed much. He still sees his kids maybe once or twice a year (all live several hours away from us) and talks to them periodically. He does keep in touch via Facebook as well. And they all seem fine with that.

He and I have 3 kids. The oldest is 21 and has been out of the house awhile. We talk to him every couple of months, usually when he calls because he wants something or to get together for some occasion (birthday, holiday, etc). Again, he stay in general touch through Facebook and sometimes exchange texts.

Our other son is 18 and is eager to be on his own and move out. However, he also wants us to pay for school and he thinks his older brother was an idiot to quit college and move out on his own.

Our daughter is still in high school, but she doesn't seem all that eager to move out but that may change.

I do know that I will probably want to stay in touch more than DH stays in touch with his kids but I probably won't be complaining about not getting a weekly phone call....
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Old 12-11-2012, 10:46 PM   #11
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Davef, about multi-generational homes... I hope your experiment is successful.

When my daughter and her husband built a home, they added a mother-in-law suite, all accessible features, so my husband and I could live there or visit as much as we want. We never expected this, but often spend time at their place. I could see us all getting along.
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Old 12-12-2012, 06:30 AM   #12
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A lot of culture at work here. My Latin wife thinks there is no such thing as too close, she talks with the two girls daily and is involved in aspects of their lives I find unusual, perhaps because I always was independent and couldn't stand someone else getting so involved in my life. She tries to do the same with our son but he is more independent - and also lives in Japan, and the distance makes a difference.

After spending most of my adult life in Latin America, US family culture does seem a bit reticent, or cool, to me. Like most others of my generation I left home early and never looked back, made my way, and think that is not a bad approach. A bit of both, I guess.
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Old 12-12-2012, 07:30 AM   #13
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Am wondering what all of you think about this. My daughter married Ben last May. The new mother in law, Susie and her husband, live 4 to 5 hours away. She has 3 children. Daughter lives 2 1/2 hours from her and has 3 children. The two sons live 4 to 5 hours from her. One son has a 1 year old and my daughter married the youngest.

When I met her for the first time, she loudly said, "She wants 12 grandchildren". (thinking to myself, "Isn't that their decision and not yours!). As of last week she now has 4 of the 12. She is a realtor so she works when work is available.

The thing I have not been able to settle in my own mind is that every week-end, she and her husband travel either the 2 1/2 hours north to visit daughter, or the 4 to 5 hours south to visit a son. By visit, I mean they stay for the week-end or a long week-end. They are intimately involved in their lives.
Not so us. I have said to my daughter we will not be doing that. They live only an hour from us. My husband has a business and often works at least one day of a week-end and I have things I need to do as well.
But it is to the point, that we have been told that if we want to see them, we will have to go to them....like his parents do. Well..that is not happening...again due to my husbands business and the fact that we have 2 other children living 2 hours from us in the other direction.
This new mother in law has been somewhat annoying. Prior to the wedding she posted pictures on FB of my daughter calling herself her "mother" and calling my daughter "her daughter".

The most recent thing to best describe this was Thanksgiving. His parents visited with them the week-end before. We had them for one night at Thanksgiving but they will be heading north to spend a week with his family over Christmas. Thanksgiving night, she sent him a picture of she and her husband having Thanksgiving dinner in a diner. My son-in-laws verbal response was "I feel bad". She also posted on my FB pages that "she was jealous that we had them for one night at Thanksgiving". I'm sure she meant it in jest but....that is the sort of thing that can be taken different ways. The day after Thanksgiving, her daughter, daughter in law and grandchildren visited with her for several days afterwards so it's not like she went long without seeing one of her children.
During their engagement, my daughter said to me, "When I marry Ben, you will become part of Susie's family". To which I said, "We have our own family thank you very much and it doesn't revolved around Susie's".

Hard to describe this in a few sentences...but my daughter has said to me that she and her husband said "That if we would not talk to them so much about finances and if his parents would not visit so often", they would have the perfect set of in-laws. So I know the visits must be some sort of sticking point.

Regarding talking to them about finances, that was during the very expensive wedding they wanted...and it was about finances. Haven't breathed a word since. LOL!

So here we have a set of parents that every week-end are not just involved in one of their children's lives but make it their mission to do so. Or so it seems.
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Old 12-12-2012, 07:33 AM   #14
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Old 12-12-2012, 07:34 AM   #15
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I was expecting an article that said we are all turning our kids into dependent wusses and was ready to argue. I was pleasantly surprised to find the opposite. The article was spot on for me. Both of my adult children live nearby (DS and grand-kids just a few blocks away, DD several miles across town). We see them several times a week and are close. I used to worry that they depended too much on us (especially DD) but as the years go by they have both shown us otherwise. DS is successful at work and a very solid father. DD has forged a career she likes although she still turns to me to do her taxes and advise her what to do re health insurance, finances, etc. But, with each year she heads further and further off on her own. It is great having them both nearby and DW and I enjoy feeding them a couple of times a week. We are careful not to push our views on their lives. We are ready to discuss anything they ask us about but don't jump in uninvited.

My upbringing was both quite different and similar in some ways. I was out of the house ASAP and never got a lick of help applying for colleges, filing taxes, anything. But, unlike many of my friends, my family was welcoming. Our door was always open and our house is where my friends congregated and hung out when we were not out wandering the city. As 20 somethings my brothers and I drove across town to my parents' house for Sunday dinner and brought friends more often than not. When we went through various youthful crises our parents were supportive but not judgmental. In retrospect, I am sure they were scared s**tless about us much of the time in the late 60s, early 70s. I have tried to offer the same sort of support to my kids.
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Old 12-12-2012, 08:06 AM   #16
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Davef, about multi-generational homes... I hope your experiment is successful.

When my daughter and her husband built a home, they added a mother-in-law suite, all accessible features, so my husband and I could live there or visit as much as we want. We never expected this, but often spend time at their place. I could see us all getting along.
Thanks for the encouragement. We have experimented with a roommate for the last few months which has worked out OK. And our stint in the Peace Corps has taught has patience and flexibility. Hopefully, all of this stuff will make for an easy transition.
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Old 12-12-2012, 08:46 AM   #17
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Interesting. Both of my parents and their siblings moved hundreds, if not thousands, of miles away from my gradparents. My mother passed away while my two younger sibs were still in high school but by the time my father died 8 years later overseas all of us kids were scattered in the US.

My two both lived about 10 years each several states away from us, and we phoned once a week. Now they live only half an hour away and we see them every couple of weeks. More for me than them as they are most definitely independent adults, but I think we are very close.

Both my DIL and my SIL, from Latin and Asian cultures, talk to their parents daily.
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Old 12-12-2012, 09:28 AM   #18
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Will read the article later....

But I think this is more of an American thing about getting your kids out of the house...

I have been to a few countries and almost all of them seem to have generational housing... IOW, many generations living in the same house (maybe that is not what it means, but I am using it that way)...

My wife is foreign and does not understand why my mother does not move in with my retired sister.... or even with us... (except that we out a lot)...

So, when I tell my kids '18 and out'.... she says "NO"....

As for me.... there were 6 kids in the family... 3 moved out before they were 18.... if you have a disfunctional dad, it makes it easier for you to want to get out early....
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Old 12-12-2012, 09:51 AM   #19
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Interesting article. Our kids are more independent than most of my friends' kids - several of them get upset if their kids don't call or text every day. Ours both chose colleges thousands of miles away. DD still lives where she went to college, DS graduates in May and has a job about 3 hours away from here so he will be closer to us but still far enough that I don't expect to see him too often. We talk to each of them more or less weekly, which is exactly the pattern my parents established when I went to college (and I still call my mother weekly). We will text or e-mail in between calls if something warrants it. Both of them do seem to be open to our advice and counsel, which is wonderful. Barring seriously unfortunate future circumstances, I don't expect either one to move back home.
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Old 12-12-2012, 09:57 AM   #20
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Am wondering what all of you think about this.
Sheesh, I think you should talk to your daughter about how best to establish, even this late in the game, some boundaries between the inlaws and her own family. Offer to help her come up with solutions if she asks for assistance.
But beyond that, you don't owe those folks much--and I'd hide the busybody MIL on your FB page too, otherwise she's likely to continue making your blood boil pretty frequently!
So glad not to have inlaw problems--my own family is plenty!
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