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Enjoying The Holidays With Your Adult Children

Enjoying The Holidays With Your Adult Children, holidays in middle age, holidays over 50
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The holidays are the time of year families gather together and now that you are over the age of 50, that family may include you, your parents and your adult children. Learning to rethink your relationships with all strata of your loved ones is an admirable goal for this year’s celebrations. This time, I’ll be sharing some tips for dealing with your adult children.

Treat your children as honored guests

Start the party at curbside: Arrange to have them met at the airport if possible instead of having them make their own way through the holiday madness. A big hug will set the stage for a good visit.

Have a room or rooms made up: Already have linens on and a set of guest towels for each of them. Stock a small basket with organic toiletries (their generation is greener than ours was.) If your kids are unmarried and are bringing a boyfriend or girlfriend, discuss with your child your house rules for whether they are going to be able to share a bed together in your house before they show up. If your morals forbid it, make up a guest room for their guest and welcome them warmly (and try to sleep soundly while they are visiting in case there is some night visitation going on you don’t want to know about.)

Don’t expect them to attend every meal or event: Rather than schedule every waking moment when your kids probably want to see old friends or catch a movie alone or hit a bar, give everyone their own key. Leave the light on and go to bed. They are grownups now and take care of themselves just fine when they are not visiting you. Play the part of B&B owner and leave out a coffee or teapot and breakfast selections (breads, cereals, fruits, yogurt) so they can help themselves whenever they get up. Tell them when other meals are during their visit and that they are welcome to attend, but you’d like some notice so you can lay another place. Print out a schedule of holiday events if they want to show up (request the same courtesy notice) but don’t nag them about attending.

Stock toys, games and books for any grandkids: But make it clear what times you will be available to babysit during their visit (and make it just as clear when you are not). Round up a list of reputable area sitters (ask at the local day care or go online to a sitter service) and have the numbers (and prices) of some if your kids want to go out sans children and you aren’t available.

Anticipate their needs: The days of chocolate Yoo Hoo may be over, but a selection of microbrews wouldn’t go amiss.  If you’re daughter is vegan, research online and have some ingredients available and directions to the local farmers market. You don’t have to do their laundry, but you can show them where the detergent is and having a power strip for them to plug in all their electronics available will be much appreciated.

Loan your car only when you want to: But consider joining ZipCar if available in your area so your kids can rent a car by the day cheaply or borrow a friend’s extra vehicle.

Ask them to attend any big dinner or family gathering: Tell them when and where and how people are dressing and get them involved in some part that would interest them. Does your son like to cook? Ask if he’ll be sous chef. Is your daughter into photography? Ask her to bring along her camera and document the family event.

Treat them like adults: You would show interest in whatever any guest at your table wanted to converse about. Do the same with your kids. No badgering or steering the conversation to topics you want to discuss. Ask questions about their interests and opinions and then listen. You need to learn who these people are other than just your children.

Be kind to their friends: Don’t embarrass them by sharing stories from their childhoods in front of their new amours; they’ll be plenty of time to pull out the baby-on-a-bear-rug photos when the grandchildren start arriving. Consider throwing an open house and have them invite all their friends over. Invite yours, too, and let the inter-generational mingling commence.

Don’t argue: Even if the conversation gets heated, as family conversations sometimes do, you back away. Don’t spoil the time you have together hashing out problems and justify it because  “you never get to see them” or “they never call.” If you attack, it can easily be understood why they rarely come home and never call.

Put down your expectations: If you are lonely and needy and put all that emotional weight on “your babies,” you won’t have a great visit. They will feel put upon and obligated and you’ll feel resentful and disappointed. Make sure you have lots of friends and activities arranged for yourself during the holidays and you’ll better be able to cherish the time you and your kids do share.

Create memories: Not only will you all be able to look back on the holiday everyone treated everyone else with courtesy and respect, you’ll start forming a bond and a foundation for your future relationships with these adult people you raised.




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