A reader writes: "How do you have an adult conversation with your adult children when they are so focused on their children?" When the family is all together--out for a pizza dinner or sitting around in late afternoon--it is hard, he says, to get the conversation away from his grown children's constant monitoring of and chatting with the four- and six-year olds and onto affairs of the world or state. Or just anything that would constitute a grown-up conversation.
Is he being unrealistic? Is this the norm for how the generation of our grown children behaves. When I open the question to friends, most nod knowingly. Yes, their grown children are child-centric; yes, it's difficult to talk about anything that is not relevant to their offspring or of interest to said small children. What do they do about it? Grin and bear it. And wait for the pre-schoolers and kindergartners to grow into school-age children who can be induced to take an interest in the world outside the nursery (if nursery is still an appropriate word).
"Children should be seen and not heard," is a point one friend made. He was harking back to what he thinks was his back-in-the-day day. But were our parents ready to ignore our presence to the extent that our grown children are not similarly willing? Is that progress? What would a Tiger Mother say? Her children would probably be giving us a large and loud dose of Mozart's Rondo a la Turk on the piano and there would be no room for conversation.
The reader's frustration may also hark back to the reality for our generation: We are no longer central to the family--our grown children are. We play by their rules. And we may not like them.