I’ve gotten to the stage where I now have my own adult children (24 and 29, to be exact). I listened with rapt attention as the elders told me their advice for getting along well with children – after they are grown.
And just about everyone had one piece of advice: When in doubt, don’t interfere with your adult children. When their gone, the elders say, let them go.
Grace, 74, told me:
How do have good relationships with adult children? Oh, I think give them their own life. Don’t make demands on them. I think any adult, particularly adults with children right now, they have enough on their plate. Don’t make demands. Don’t ask much of them. Just be there for them when they need you. Try to laugh with them. And certainly don’t tell them what to do. Because I think your guess is as good as theirs.
Charmayne, 80, also believes in the “non-interference” principle: ”Well it’s their life. It’s not my life. I lived my life the way I wanted to. I don’t have a right unless they ask me for advice. As I say, they all have their own way to do things and if they get in trouble and they want some help, they’ll come to me. That’s all.” She acknowledges, however, that “holding your tongue” can be very difficult:
So one of my daughters, she’s not going to get married. She said she’s too set in her ways, she likes her life the way it is. She likes to have a nice clean house and apartment. She just doesn’t want to have to think about cow-towing to a man or anything. She likes her life the way it is. And all right, for a while I kept saying “You’ll meet somebody. Honey, you’ll meet somebody and then you’ll change your mind.” But then I thought: I know she’s fifty-something now and I don’t think she’s going to get anyone. So I guess I better let her live her own life and realize that she knows herself then. She’s thought about it enough, so that’s fine. That’s her life. It’s not my life. I just happen to think the Lord put us on this earth and He said “Be fruitful and multiply.” But if she doesn’t believe that and she doesn’t want to live by that, that’s up to her.
Conrad, 88, asserts that the time to have your influence is before they move out:
Don’t tell them how to live their lives. Tell them when they’re home, before they leave. I’m satisfied that that’s what works out, because the rest of it they’re gonna figure out anyways, you know.
I have taken this advice to heart. It’s hard for me not to give advice, but I’ve learned to wait until my kids ask!