In a posting on parenting, a mother of three grown children waxed eloquent about the steps she had taken to meet her goal: having "an adult, pleasant relationship" with each of her three children. She started when she first faced an empty nest--her children were 20-somethings. Now that they're in their 30s, she is feeling pretty good about achieving her goal, even though "some years along the way have been far, far less than ideal."
What did she do to get so close to this best of all possible worlds?
Step one: she treated herself to therapy.
Step two, she read (twice), "How to Talk So Kids will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk."
Step three was a simple duh moment: She asked her kids to suggest ways she could "be a good parent to them as adults."
Some of the pointers her kids gave her were specific: "You don't have to put that Spider-Man on my birthday cake anymore."
But they did address bigger-picture items and few principles on which they should agree:
--A tardy or a non-reply to a text message should not be taken personally.
--Questions about anything going on in their lives is okay but an acceptable answer is, "I don't want to talk about it."
--Before any family meet-up, alerts should be sent out ahead of time if there's a specific agenda. Nothing important should be sprung on parents or siblings unannounced.
--Gossiping about each other is a no-no.
--Sarcasm is not funny.
Not bad for a start. Sounds oh-so reasonable and probably easier said than done. I would guess it would take many a deep and deeper breath to de-personalize or not worry about the non-reply or the "don't want to talk about it." But then, parenting adult children takes flexibility and the ever-elusive ability to let go. Hopefully, we figure out--possibly with a few suggestions from them--how to do it well before we're in our dotage.