How aging parents can connect better with their grown-up kids
Parenting is difficult, and that difficulty increases with age. Your children are grown up now, they have their own world, friends and families to worry about, you’re not the head of your household anymore. You feel left out and lonely because your kids don’t call enough or come home as much as they used to. On the other hand, your children may feel like you don’t ”get them” or understand them anymore. This can lead to resentment for both sides. In this scenario, what should an aging parent do? This article will discuss how you CAN reconnect with your children who are grown up now through communication and appreciation.
One of the biggest challenges parents and children face when they are grown up is distance. This may happen when your kids have to go to college in another state, or they take on full-time jobs and move away. Sometimes parents who need special care move to various senior living facilities such as nursing homes or assisted living which can also cause a disconnection. Whatever the reason for the distance, it is important that you find some time to check on each other. It can be through a phone call, writing a letter, sending a gift on their special day. This way you can let each other know that you are still there for one another regardless of the distance.
Communication is key
In any relationship, communication plays a key role in staying connected and understanding each other. Don’t just expect your children to understand what you’re going through when they don’t know any better, or for them to always be there because they are busy working and living their own lives. If something is bothering you, be it your own struggles or their behavior towards you, talk it over with them. Your children should be receptive and willing to listen to you if they care about your feelings. However, make sure you are not just complaining or talking negatively! You can have a conversation that is more balanced that may help the relationship in general.
Be a listener
Though your kids are grown up now and can take care of themselves. But sometimes they might need to talk and vent their frustrations with the way they are feeling to you. It is important that you give your children a listening ear and be there for them. Growing up is a complex process that you should know already as you have experienced the same thing, so you can help your children make sense of their feelings too. Ask them if something is bothering them or if they need any support so that you are showing empathy and care. It’s not always easy but it will make things a whole lot better in the long run.
Share memories with them
It is never too late for your children to know and cherish the time you have spent together as a family. You can share memories about things like their first day at school, who they grew up looking up to, what their favorite TV show was. Similarly, you can share experiences about your past such as your first job, the day you moved into your first house, or what it was like to be a teenager. This can be a nice way for you both to reminisce fond memories and bond over them.
Make plans together
As your children are grown up now, they might have their own schedule and stuff to do. You might not have time for each other all the time, but you could try separating some time to spend with them on weekends or holidays. This may include eating breakfast together or catching an occasional movie while heading out for dinner – whatever works best for you both. This will not only let you share some quality time but also make you feel important in each other’s lives.
Don’t be afraid to show emotions
Showing emotions is a way to tell your kids that you still care about them. However, you have to be careful that it does not make you appear as if you are trying to dictate them or emotionally pressurizing them to do something they don’t want to do. You have to realize that sometimes emotions might get the best of you and make things worse for everyone involved. However, your kids are still your kids and they feel good when you show affection and appreciation towards them. If you haven’t seen each other in a while, don’t shy away from giving them a tight hug when you meet up or say you love them when you talk over the phone. These small gestures may go a long way in bringing you closer to your kids.
Do not expect your kids to be the same person as you
Your kids are not going to live your life, and it doesn’t matter if you think that their decisions may lead them astray or create a less-than-perfect lifestyle for themselves. They have their own path in front of them to follow, and it’s not up to you to decide what is best for them. You have a responsibility as the parent of your kids – but that means being there when they need guidance or advice about something in their lives. It may be tough at first, but eventually, you will come to terms with it once you see your kids being happy and living their best life.
Develop common interests
This does not mean you have to mold yourself into their personalities and interests. It means you have to find common ground with them and then work on building up from there. Common interests can be anything – a favourite TV show, working out, a hobby, an upcoming vacation spot, even the type of music they listen to! This will make it easier for you to talk to them and build a friendship.
Accept who they are
One of the most important things to do is accept them for who they are. This also means accepting the relationship you have with your children and what that looks like today, not how it was when you were growing up or how you think it should be now. Accepting also includes supporting their life choices, pursuing certain careers, choosing their partners even if it does not fit into your ideal perception of how things should be.
Apologize and forgive
Nobody is perfect. Sometimes you do or say things that can hurt your child or sometimes they do or say things that bother you. It is important to recognize those moments when your relationship with them has been strained and apologize for any mistakes on both sides. It can happen that your relationship with them changes after they graduate from college, start a family of their own or move away from home. The change can be scary and it may be hard to adjust but this gives you an opportunity to rebuild the strong relationship based on shared experiences as adults rather than a parent-child relationship which is bound to change with the course of time. It is best to honor the connection you have and let go of any resentments.
To conclude, a parent-child relationship is forever special, but as they grow up, that relationship is bound to change. In the end, it all comes down to respect and kindness. Respect your kids for who they are as adults, but don’t forget that they’re still your kids at heart. Show them love every day by sending them a message or making lunch plans with them – maybe even make up for lost time!
Mehebuba is a Content Writer and Digital Marketing Executive at BoomersHub, a senior living and homecare information service. She is a fresh talent in the world of digital content creation and her area of interest include culture and lifestyle, health, wellbeing and beyond. She believes we should all come forward to lift each other up, spread more kindness into the world and look out for the vulnerable groups.