We've all been there--gotten annoyed at our grown children. Maybe it was for not returning our text promptly, or forgetting their sister's birthday, or taking time off when they should have been buckling down at work. Or just plain not doing things the way we have always done them. Whatever. However much we love them, we can also be angry at them and hurt and disappointed.
What to do about it? One answer is to lower expectations. In a column, Carolyn Hax answers a reader whose son never drives the two hours to visit his mom and dad for major holidays (he goes to his in-laws who live nearby). He refuses to come to his father's yearly family reunion ("too far in advance to commit") or to her mom's 90th birthday party ("not enough notice"). The reader is angry, hurt and depressed about his stand-offishness.
Here's the essence of Hax's silver bullet:
Adjust your plans to reflect reality. Expect delayed replies, holidays without your son, occasional daunting travel.
Learn to recognize that what we get from people, over time, represents pretty accurately what they’re willing to give.
Enjoy what they give you, period. Stare down disappointment with gratitude.
Acceptance — be it of mildly annoying unanswered texts or of heartbreaking distance — can feel like the breaking point of a relationship. Often, though, it’s the beginning of a better one.
Why? Because it is just not human nature to rush to see people who only complain or make sad eyes at us for not responding enough or visiting enough or caring enough or giving enough. Quite the contrary; we tend to pull away harder.
So if you miss your son, then lay off wanting more of him. ...Whether this creates new connections or improves your problematic old ones, it’s a win either way.