Tips for Thanksgiving with your visiting adult kids Most Liked

Drs. Jimmy Laura Smull and I interviewed 100 successful women 50+ about their issues/concerns, and one of the most pressing desires was to figure out how to establish healthy adult relationships with our offspring.  Given that Thanksgiving is hard upon us, here’s a synopsis of the communal wisdom that was shared with us, just in the nick of time..

1.  If you are tempted to offer advice or deliver an opinion about something they are considering doing/facing, Stop!  Think!  Have you specifically been asked?  Is it a matter of life and death?  If not,  keep your thoughts to yourself.

2.  If you are asked for money, if you give it at all, give only if you can part with it freely, with neither emotional nor practical strings, expectations or paybacks attaqched.

3.  Never do for them what they can or ought to be able to do for themselves.

4.  The only exception is paying for their health insurance for at least awhile, since young adults think they’re immortal.

5.  Be willing to let them fail and figure out how to get themselves out of messes.  That’s how they’ll learn.

6.  Listen to their complaints about what you did or didn’t do to them during their childhoods without letting yourself (or them) get caught up in the drama. 

7. Forgive yourself, knowing that you did your best; that it is the human condition to fall short of the ideal and that every life has challenges to be overcome. 

8.  Keep your visits short and fill them with fun things and good food.

9.  Find something to do that unlike your adult children are still under your control, and master it.

10.  Remember that you’ve got the right to establish healthy boundaries and raise the bar in terms of how you deserve to be treated, regardless of what dysfunctions are playing out in your offspring’s life.

Above all, keep breathing.  It’s going to be okay.

excerpted from “The Silver Pearl” 

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Posted in family & relationships.

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8 Responses

  1. Generic Image Bobbi says

    carol….loved this list as it is what you and I have discussed for years, more relative to how our parents treated us than how we treat our kids……wish I could have given this list to my mom about 30 years ago!  But now that they are truly old….they are much easier to read and ignore…and, they still try to give me advice and tell me what to do and how to do it….sure hope I don’t do this to my kids and am so conscious about this it is scarey…..hope you have a great holiday with your babies…..love, Bobbi

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  2. Carol Orsborn Carol Orsborn says

    Oh Bobbi,

    You know my babies when they really were babies (yours, too) so you know how hard it is for me to take my own advice!  Have a great holiday, as well,  Grandma!!!

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  3. Generic Image cnewberry says

    When adult children return home for college breaks – whether it’s just for a long weekend, or for several months over the summer holidays – it’s important to talk about what your expectations (and theirs) will be for how you will all live peacefully together. 

    Your adult children may feel that, since they adults who no longer live with you full-time, they should be treated as guests, without any rules on restrictions for their behavior or their comings and goings. But the simple fact is that your adult children are nothing like other houseguests. For one thing, you’d be very unlikely to have other adults stay in your home for weeks or months – and if you did, you would certainly expect them to adapt their lifestyle to meet your needs and what makes you comfortable.

    Secondly, the relationship between parents and children will always be a parent-kid relationship, with all that that entails, no matter how old the child is. An adult child visiting for the Thanksgiving break may expect that you’re going to do their laundry and cook their meals, whereas you may expect that you’ll finally get a break from cooking every night because your adult child will be around to help out. If you don’t talk about this beforehand, you’ll both end up disappointed, resentful, and angry.

    The most important thing you can do is talk about what the living situation will be like before the adult child is home for any length of time, and make sure you all agree about what’s acceptable, and what works for everyone. A written agreement can be an excellent way to make sure you cover all the issues and everyone is on the same page.

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  4. Generic Image avsn4u says

    This is crazy how on time this is for me today. I’ve been going through a VERY hard time with my 29 yr. old daughter. She has just given birth to her 5th child and is homeless for the 4th time.
    I have allowed her to live with me each time in the past. She has never handled her money well, keeps having children and the men are never good for her. I will say she has her own issues that damage any relationship she has been in. At the moment I am very worried about her narcotic pain medication intake and the fact that she is bone thin. I would like to mention that she has been diagnosed with moderate to severe fibromyalgia and they are trying different meds such as anti-depressants to help her with her pain.I have tried every which way to support and help her.
    Right now she is at the YWCA and has a lot of support. The problem is that she is not making the most of it and has limited time there. She calls me and asks me for money, rides and cigarettes almost every day. I have her oldest, my 7 yr. old daughter living with me as she needs stability while attending school.
    My worries got so bad for her and my grandchildren that I ended up in the ER with stroke symptoms. Turns out it’s all stress related. I’m now on an anti-depressant to help me cope.
    Yesterday she asked me to pick her up, take the kids to childcare and let her come over just to watch TV and be out of the shelter for awhile. Sounds innocent enough except that this is happening all of the time. My gas, money and time are of no consequence to her at all. As long as she gets what she feels she needs.
    I’m working with a therapist on detaching but it’s been a slow process. When I’m telling her no she is relentless and guilt trips me.
    This has been hard. I have a 17 yr. old daughter at home going through her own stuff and being affected by all of this and so I have to think of her.
    Any advice on how to detach without feeling so incredibly horrible?
    The shelter allows her 2 days out over the holidays and she has asked to come and stay those two days. I have told her one day and one night because this place really turns in to a three ring circus and we’re packed in here like sardines. I also have 2 dogs that are stressed while the little ones are here. I want to be fair so I thought that would be reasonable but she is angry with me for not letting her say for the entire 2 days and 2 nights.
    I am thinking she may eventually lose her children. Since I have chronic, severe back pain and the kids dads have substance abuse issues and 1 is very abusive this REALLY worries me.
    I try so hard to take a deep breath and know it’s going to be OK but most of the time I’m pretty overwhelmed with sadness and worry.

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    • sjaneward sjaneward says

      I’m so empathetic, I cannot express it.  Your sainthood is guaranteed! Please forgive my little bit of humour.  Comic relief helps me through so much.  Both your daughters are very fortunate to have you as their Mother.  I hope nothing I say causes you any more stress or pain. You do need to “turn her loose” or she’ll never evolve into the woman she is capable of becoming, however great ,or not great, that may be.  It is not easy.  It never will be. But so worth it.
      It is not your fault that she has and is living her one life as she is.   You sound like a woman who loves endlessly and gives abundantly.  You just need to take care of yourself and your younger girl, but mostly yourself.
      I hope your counsellor/advisor can help you with how to do the self-care I am advocating.  But please do it.  I’m sure you have heard “tough love” & I do not fool myself into thinking that I know any better than you about your life.
      All the best to you, Mad City Woman. You deserve the best.

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      • Generic Image avsn4u says

        Thank you so much, sjaneward. It feels good to be supported in this and nothing you have said did anything but encourage.

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  5. CBW CBW says

    These are very timely tips for me, as my 35-year-old son is struggling to stay employed and have a room to call his own in the pricy city of San Francisco.  It has been a few years since he has been to my home, but i decided to fly him here instead of me going there for Thanksgiving this time.  So I paid for his plane ticket, which is less costly than me flying to SF, staying in a hotel and paying for all our restaurant meals plus transportation needs.  

    But it may be more costly to me emotionally.  He is extremely angry at the world in general, at his father who lives in the same region as I do (we’ve been divorced 7 years) and  they have not seen each other in over 3 years and go months without talking.  My son is quite able to vent his anger loudly and frequently (which has cost him relationships and jobs), and he loudly rejects my asked-for advice. 

    I woke up this morning thinking that I will tell him the most important rule for my peace of mind:  No yelling at your mother in her own house. I may add a few more rules to protect my boundaries, (like clean up after yourself, respect my sleep needs, and be ready on time to leave for dinner on Thanksgiving Day), but no yelling is the most important one.  

    Thanks for the reminder of good rules for me to follow.

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  6. Generic Image 52andfree! says

    After a 25 year marriage, I finally said no more.  I packed and left, including a 17 year old.  Having been a stay home mom very active in many endeavors, there comes a time when now I will think of myself and my needs.  It has been a very painful and emotional process.  My pending litigation has been delayed and I am using this time for healing and working, once again.  No one said being a mother would be easy, being a wife was even harder. 
    I have become more active with my church group, have a support group and try like everything to remain positive.  My crying spells are fewer, I know I have made the best decision to leave my marriage and helping others I find very rewarding.  

    I find this website and comments of comfort.

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