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 attached.
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, is 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.
Updated from January 2, 2009. Excerpted from "The Silver Pearl"