General Question

janbb's avatar

Parents of adult children, do you have any expectations of their behavior towards you?

Asked by janbb (59650points) 3 months ago
16 responses
“Great Question” (6points)

Specifically, I mean in relationship to you. Do you expect to see them regularly? Get phone calls? Gifts on holidays? Or do you feel it is entirely up to them? How much contact would you like to have?

For the purposes of this question, I want answers only from Jellies who have adult or young adult children. Putting this in General and answers by others will be flagged.

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canidmajor's avatar

Expectations? Yes, no, maybe. We have established patterns, my daughter and I, and we communicate our feelings freely. I hope that we can maintain this level of affection and connection, but I don’t make demands because of my history with my family of origin. We seem to enjoy each other’s company, which is a huge plus, and not taken for granted.

I expect civility, I enjoy and revel in friendship.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I have 3 adult children, and my relationships with each of them make me happy. I have had occasions to express regret over some of the ways I acted when they were growing up, and I asked each how I could make it up to them. They were each happy with my willingness to express myself and my contrition. No special demonstrations were necessary on my part.

I communicate with my daughter and my non-binary child by text multiple times each week, and we talk on the phone maybe once each month. All these interactions are voluntary on their part. I would say the communication is warm and loving.

I text with my son less, but we do text. I rarely speak to him on the phone. He has a small family of his own, so he’s busy.

We have a family group text that is active often during the week. The group includes their moms. (My ex wife is married to a woman.)

I have no expectations of communication coming in any certain amount or within certain intervals. They are adults and have their own lives. I am grateful each time they choose to include me.

Caravanfan's avatar

I have an adult daughter. She usually calls or texts when she needs something. Although she did call and ask my advice on a lab job she is interested in and I helped her prepare for.

flutherother's avatar

I have two grown up children and keep in regular contact with them both. I usually take the initiative with my son, who lives locally, and visit him once a week. We go cycle runs and hill walks and occasionally go out for meals together.

My daughter lives 500 miles away and so I see her less often. She takes the initiative in calling me every week or so and I visit her perhaps once a year and she comes to stay with me every summer.

Every year I rent a holiday cottage and we all spend a week together with our partners which we all enjoy very much.

We no longer belong to the one family and we have each gone our separate ways and I respect that. It is as it should be. We don’t make demands of one another and while there are no expectations there is still love and so we keep in contact.

janbb's avatar

Thanks for all your answers. I think I phrased my question wrong. I really meant more did you have expectations for a continuing relationship with your kids of some kind and not specific actions. It sounds like you all have healthy relationships within the parameters that are comfortable. Great.

canidmajor's avatar

I think a lot of it for me is not taking the ongoing relationship for granted. I know that every situation is different, but many of our parents seemed to have absolute expectations of how their children (us) should behave, without putting in the work to ensure that we would want to do those things.

And of course, just like us, our children are fully realized people in their own right, and often make decisions that we can’t begin to fathom.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@canidmajor puts it well. I think the word expectations has too much behind it implying rules, “shoulds”. My parents had them for me, and I disappointed them gravely.

I work very hard at not perpetuating that with my children. I certainly have wants, but really, I can only receive what they offer. I can be happy with that, or I can spend time thinking about how much more I want and be miserable. There have been times I’ve been sad and wanted more, but I’ve never expressed that to my children. The vast majority of the time I’m thrilled with what they give me.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I don’t. I’ve spent the years, from day 1, cultivating a mutually affection between all of us.
I don’t expect (and rarely get) presents. A phone call or text on my birthday is enough.

janbb's avatar

As I amended my question above, it is not about demands or expectations of certain things. It is about hoping for mutual affection to continue to exist.

Pandora's avatar

Of course mutual affection is expected but not out of nowhere. What I mean, is I don’t want them to care for me just because I’m mom and gave birth for because of things I did as a mom when they lived with me. The one thing mom title entitles me too is respect, even if they think I am wrong, but love is a voluntary thing that I hope we will always continue to share because they like me. I’ve heard people say, I love my parents but I don’t like them. Or the other way, I like my parents but I don’t feel connected to them, so I don’t love them the way other kids love their parents
I hope to always maintain a relationship of both love and like but relationships go two ways. I can’t ignore my role in it and expect them to carry it all alone. That means sometimes calling them when they haven’t called in a while. Or making the drive to visit them if they haven’t come over in a while. Or be available to give some support at 4 in the morning when you are dead tired.

My kids and husband are my closest friends. We aren’t in constant communication, like daily or weekly. But they have lives of their own, and one really lives too far away with a 13 hour difference, so it’s not easy to always keep in communication, and all relationships have their ups and down because it’s easy to let relationships fall through the cracks.

So I expect to get back what I put into the relationship and so far, I as happy with it the way it is. If I could have it my way, though, I would wish to live with them nearby and the rest of my family. That would be perfect. But everyone is so far. I guess that is the one thing that disappoints me most.

YARNLADY's avatar

My oldest son ran away from his wife and three children, so our communications were very strained for the 20 or so years my grandsons were growing up. Things have gotten better in the past 10 years, since he survived a very serious stroke. He is newly married to a very supportive and friendly woman. They own a house in Ireland which is currently for sale, and are wintering in Portugal.
My younger son is currently living two blocks away, and we interact on a daily basis.
My three adult grandsons, who I helped raise, keep me informed of their family news regularly. We used to get together for holidays, but they have all scattered now.

janbb's avatar

Thanks all for your answers! I asked because one of my sons and I have a close relationship but it is quite distant, physically and emotionally, with the other. Both sons live at a distance and my expectation was never that they would stay “in town” but it hurts that one has removed himself so far emotionally since we were quite close while he was growing up.

I don’t real want any advice just wanted to hear some other experiences.

canidmajor's avatar

It’s never easy, is it? The difference between our children as kids and our children as adults is just startling. I hope you can regain the closeness with your son. <3

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

In many ways, I’m still growing as I age, which I find my adult children don’t understand about me. Maybe I’m selling them short. Perhaps they do get glimpses of it from time to time.

Pandora's avatar

I will add this. It is easier to maintain a relationship with someone who is physically closer to you than someone far away. My son and I were two peas in a pod. Not really identical in everything but my very pragmatic thinking was the same as his, the only thing is he keeps his thoughts inside. I learn to read what he isn’t saying when we lived together. Now its been years and he has changed in many ways and it is near impossible to read what he isn’t saying. But when he does come home for a visit within a few days, its as if nothing has changed in our relationship. I can still read him and like a book and we still share a lot of the same interests but more importantly, I can feel his love for me. It’s not the same over Skype or the phone.
It feels too cold and almost formal. Like when you talk to a distant cousin.
But in person, he lets down his guard and behaves more like his old self.
It took me a while to realize that it was the same for my mother and I when I moved away and got married. You change and your parents feel different to you. You want to be treated like an adult, but at the same time you miss feeling protected and safe and sure about everything because they always had your back. So you learn to navigate the world without them. You now have opinions that are different from theirs. This can put a strain on any relationship and make you feel distant. It can feel like a divorce I assume. Not to say you don’t suddenly love them. But your relationship has changed. Even if it didn’t change for the worse, it can feel like there is something missing and strange.

canidmajor's avatar

I know a few people whose grown kids moved in with them for the first year of the pandemic, some are still there. I wonder what kind of dynamic developed because of that.

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