Tanya sat on the stool at Leanne’s kitchen island sipping her steaming tea. She loved these opportunities talking to her friend as the sun was shining through the entry. They were talking about their grown children, laughing at their new “freedom” with kids out of the house.
Leanne’s cell phone vibrated on the counter. “Excuse me just a minute, I need to take this,” Leanne muttered. “It’s Jenny. I’ll let her know that I’ll call her back.”
As Tanya listened to the short conversation, she let her mind wander. “Why don’t my kids call me like that?” she thought.
As Leanne hung up with her daughter, Tanya asked. “Do your kids call you every day?”
“Well, not all of them,” she laughed. “Depends on which one it is. With four kids that are twenty-something, they lead pretty busy lives. Jenny usually calls daily through the week on her way home from work, Darcie usually calls every two or three days unless she is struggling with something, then I may hear from her two or three times a day! Marty usually calls every day or so, and then Mitch typically calls at least every week or two.”
“Wow, that’s hard to fathom. My kids rarely call. I feel so disconnected from their lives.”
“You sound a little disappointed,” Leanne ventured.
“Yeah, I really am, I guess. For some reason, family doesn’t seem that important to my kids. It seems that the only time we talk is if I initiate the conversation.”
“I take it you’d like to be more connected to their lives?”
“Of course! I just don’t know what we did wrong.”
“Can I offer a suggestion?” asked Leanne. With a nod from Tanya, she began, “Don’t focus on what you may have done wrong. No one will win with that logic. Why not try to think about steps you could take to build the relationship? It might not become exactly what you want it to be, but it could become a lot better.”
“But, how? I don’t think I would even know where to start!”
“Why not start with taking them out to lunch? Share with them what you are feeling. Tell them what you are hoping for the relationship to be. Find out what they are looking for in your relationship at this point in their lives. Ask how you can be there for them, and then reciprocate, letting them know what would help you feel engaged.”
“You make it sound so easy. It’s obviously working for you.”
“I’ll let you in on a secret. When each of my kids were making their big move out of the house, I took them out to lunch and told them how excited I was that they were heading out to their new adventure. I assured them that I was their number 1 fan and would always be here for them. I also told them that I wouldn’t be calling them regularly to ask lots of questions. I wanted them to feel independent. But, I also told them how much I loved them and that I hoped they would call me regularly so that I could know what is going on in their world. I told them I wanted to be their friend and hoped they wanted the same from me.”
“Wow. Wish I had done that. You seem to have real friendship going with your kids.”
“Tanya, it is not too late for you. Pray and engage with them…not as a mother, but as a friend. God will do the rest.”
…he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
As parents, most of us long for relationship with our adult kids, especially our single twenty-somethings. Sometimes that means taking a personal inventory of who we are and how we attempt to connect with them. Too often, parents continue to “parent” their older kids, expecting them to still “obey”. When their adult children resist, feelings are hurt and relationships are stilted. Why not use this opportunity as we go through The Respect Dare together to assess where you might need to make changes in order to see your relationship with your children grow?
Here are a few questions to get you started. I hope you’ll pick two or three to focus on while we’re on this journey together.
- Do I choose to live my life for God more than I am concerned about what other people think?
- Do I let my twenty-something know (appropriately) what I am struggling with?
- Does my twenty-something confide in me?
- Do I know how to give advice to my twenty-something such that they hear it and often take it?
- Am I still trying to control my twenty-something’s behavior and get them to do what I want them to do?
- Do I make demands of my twenty-something and feel disappointed or angry when they don’t respond?
- Do I communicate with my twenty-something so that they want to have relationship with me?
Moving into adult/adult relationship with our kids is tough. We are expected to give up control…and I’ll admit, sometimes that is a hard thing to do…especially at times when we might be footing the bill.
My hope for you is that above all things…Think relationship!
“Let go…and let God,”