What do you wish your adult children would do more of?
December 28, 2016 7:46 PM   Subscribe

My parents are in their mid-sixties. I'm in my forties. I want to be the best daughter I can be while I still have them around. What things do you wish your adult children would do more of (or less of) to make you feel loved and supported? I know what's needed and possibly appreciated may vary based on people's physical abilities, income levels, etc. I just want to get some ideas from people who have children my age of things they've appreciated that I may not have thought of, so all ideas welcome. Thanks!
posted by ezrainch to Human Relations (14 answers total) 56 users marked this as a favorite
 
Just show up and hang out.
posted by sammyo at 7:50 PM on December 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


I asked a similar question a while ago although I'm younger than you are. I got some good answers, and the jist of it is to take an interest, call home, listen to their stories... just be there. I like asking my parents for recipes because it is a way they can continue to teach me things in a small, more tangible way. They appreciate it when I help out with the dishes after dinner at their house.
posted by gemutlichkeit at 7:54 PM on December 28, 2016 [5 favorites]


39-year-old only child of a 70-year-old parent here, so this is from the child's perspective, but I know my Mom feels a lot of guilt when her needs change or "interfere with" my plans/life. She doesn't want to be a burden, and, as a blind widow, she's aware that her medical issues have made me grow up quicker than my peers (my Dad passed when I was 12). In my experience, showing up, especially in emergencies, health or otherwise, without any attitude or resentment goes a long way. When she feels guilty or is compelled to apologize, I just tell her it's not necessary, I love her, & I know she would do, and has done, the same for me. It's not always easy to embrace the "it's no big deal," thing because, real talk, it can be tough, but it's not her fault or choice. So, show up with love and generosity of spirit in your heart, for things both big and small. Sometimes, this will be harder than others, so make sure you have a support system in place for bigger issues, & when you need to take a break for self-care, make room for that to prevent stress, frustration, & resentment from building. Furthermore, treating parents as people and valuing them the way you value your dearest friends also makes a big difference. It's so easy to take our parents for granted and/or be annoyed with them, but the majority of them are good people who tried to do the best by their kids. Investing in that relationship as an adult means A LOT and will be good for you, too. Hope this helps!
posted by katemcd at 8:24 PM on December 28, 2016 [17 favorites]


From a 73-year-oid parent's point of view: "showing up and hanging out" -- not so much. Of course if your parent is super lonely and has few interests .... but even then, frankly, she probably has a lot of television she likes to watch, doesn't want to share it with you, but can't watch while you're there blessing her with your presence.

Seriously, kids. How about being interesting? My daughter shares memes (and explains them when necessary), and rants about the lack of sympathy her gender neutral roommate gets when asked to be called "they," and tells me the spoilers in the latest Star War movie, and her discussions with her ex-husband about Born Again Vegans. She has as little interest in "listening to my stories" as I have in repeating those stories one more time. But she does show interest in my reactions to the above subjects, and my opinions about them. THAT's gold.

Here is a poem written by a friend of mine, Dorothy Regal, when she was in her 80's.

Little Mothers

Our daughters become our mothers,
as we shrink into old age.
They hover over us,
take our gnarled hands in theirs
as we step off the curb
into the menacing street,
match their long strides
to fit our short, tentative ones,
walk us slowly to stores to buy
something they decide we need.

They ask us what we did yesterday
when they make their daily calls,
give us all the time it takes
to remember the answer.
We let them play their parts,
knowing their need and ours,
try for patience, for gratitude,
cannot believe how powerful
and kind they have become.
posted by kestralwing at 9:16 PM on December 28, 2016 [74 favorites]


As a parent, I like when my daughter calls or visits. And my mother, who is 76, wants the same thing. She wants company to watch tv with her and discuss the news, politics, or whatever fictional show we're watching together.
posted by MexicanYenta at 9:31 PM on December 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm not a Mother but I am an Aunt and Godmother. I am in my sixties. What I appreciate the most is their time. I love hearing about what interests them, about their kids. I love when they breeze through my house using it as a hotel on their way to wherever. I love it when they ask me to cook something that Grandma, my Mother, use to cook when they were little and she was alive.

Tomorrow night I drive to the airport and pick up two who will spend the night, eat whatever junk food I have and take off in the morning. I will enjoy hearing about their trip, and all the family gossip.

I enjoy the time these 20-30 year old's give me. My relationship with them is different than the one they have with their parents. I make no demands ... I enjoy what they have to share.
posted by cairnoflore at 1:16 AM on December 29, 2016 [4 favorites]


Tell me when you are upset/angry with me so that we can work out any differences—never assume I am too set in my ways or too old to change without at least giving me a chance.

(62-year-old mother of 20-something kids; daughter never hesitates to speak up, but sometimes I wonder about my always-agreeable son.)
posted by she's not there at 1:49 AM on December 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


It depends. I'm struggling because my (young) adult children don't do anything at all - so contacting me regularly, listening to me, remembering my birthday would be so fucking fantastic. Also, if they asked, I woukd tell them that, but more tactfully - so, have you asked?
posted by b33j at 5:39 AM on December 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


We live about 3-hours flying from my parents, so this may change things... What my mom always seems to like is when we "leave things better than when we found them" - this could mean organizing the kitchen cupboard that's gotten out of control, changing a lightbulb that needs a ladder, polishing silver - any of those annoying tasks that she means to get to but life gets in the way ... or it can be small stuff like doing the cooking (and washing up afterwards) so she can have company without having to entertain. She likes that when we visit she never has to do dishes (a task she doesn't like and I hate even more).

Mostly it really is just being there as often as we can, listening, calling to say what's going on in our lives, though. My dad just wants visits, but we always bring him something chocolate, too.
posted by Mchelly at 8:23 AM on December 29, 2016


Thanks for all the ideas! I see my parents at least a couple of times a week and help them with things like cooking, cleaning, and running errands when they need it. We also talk on the phone pretty often, go out for meals, hang out and look at pictures, play games, watch tv, etc. Mostly I was hoping to hear from people their age to see if there are things I'm missing like "invite me to the movies!", "make dinner for me at your house", "surprise me with a gift certificate", etc. Sometimes when I ask them what they need or try to do stuff for them, they're all like "No, no, we're fine. You're busy. Don't spend your money on us.". They're so rad, I just want them to know I appreciate and love them.
posted by ezrainch at 6:17 PM on December 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm close to your parents' age with kids close to yours, though they live far away. Spending time with me, mostly phone calls in my case, is the best gift.

One Christmas, my daughter wrote a list of things I'd done right as a parent (I had expressed guilt about all the mistakes I made). It was kind of a collection of her best childhood memories. I still treasure that and would recommend doing something like that.

Also, I was recently diagnosed with cancer which has made some things harder, but even before that happened, I was thinking a lot about how to handle approaching old age - mostly trying to downsize and simplify my life. Depending on your parents' attitudes, that could be a delicate matter, but if my kids lived closer, I would really appreciate help with projects that seem too big and overwhelming for me to manage by myself - going through closets, organizing family photographs, even painting a room or two. I don't really want my kids to spend much money on me, but spending time can be really helpful. Last time my son and his wife visited, they helped me clear out a room, and that was great.

A lot of ideas would depend on your parents' state of health - whether they are slowing down or running marathons. If it's hard for them to get around, a gift certificate might not be as good because it would require them to go shopping (if they're computer savvy, online stores would be different). If they are having health problems, they might appreciate your offering to go with them for medical appointments - as you get older, it can get harder to manage those both mentally and physically. If it's hard for them to get out on their own, taking them out for a meal or to visit a museum or something else they'd like to see could be really great.

I love that you're asking this question BTW. I think it speaks well of you and your parents.
posted by FencingGal at 7:53 PM on December 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


If applicable, cultivate/maintain good relationships with siblings and let your folks know that you all love each other and are in frequent contact. I suspect that hostile relationships among adult sibs are much harder on the parents than on the kids.

Re "No, no, we're fine. You're busy. Don't spend your money on us." Assuming the actually are fine and don't have important unmet needs, honor this. Speaking as a mom, I want my kids to take care of themselves/their lives and for them to trust me when I tell them I'm fine. I believe you have already made it clear to them that they can count on you if they need help.

You sound like a peach of a kid. I'm sure they are very proud of you.
posted by she's not there at 9:33 PM on December 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


Thanks for all the ideas! I see my parents at least a couple of times a week and help them with things like cooking, cleaning, and running errands when they need it. We also talk on the phone pretty often, go out for meals, hang out and look at pictures, play games, watch tv, etc. Mostly I was hoping to hear from people their age to see if there are things I'm missing like "invite me to the movies!", "make dinner for me at your house", "surprise me with a gift certificate", etc. Sometimes when I ask them what they need or try to do stuff for them, they're all like "No, no, we're fine. You're busy. Don't spend your money on us.". They're so rad, I just want them to know I appreciate and love them.
posted by ezrainch at 8:17 PM on December 29 [1 favorite +] [!]
Put that in a handwritten note sent through the postal service, or hand-deliver it. You and I are in similar situations re: amount of weekly visits with parents and age of child and age of parents. My parents just love any time they get with me and my family and would probably prefer NOT to go to the movies, because it takes away from talking with each other.

Yet, they absolutely love being acknowledged (as rad, no less) and love the acknowledgement of that strong family bond where one would even ask a question like this. Your parents are already pretty lucky in getting that much time with you, and they almost certainly already appreciate that. You are doing a darn good job.
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 9:20 AM on December 31, 2016


Set them up digitally in a freaking fantastic way. Teach them or send them to iPad/Cloud/Internet classes. Make sure their photos are seamlessly synced and backed up. Help them set up spam filters and do all their software updates with/for them. Ensure they can print and that they know how to use the various home devices they have.
posted by shazzam! at 9:05 PM on December 31, 2016


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