Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Adult Children

Hubby and I have come to the conclusion that having adult children must be a difficult thing. Groundbreaking, I know, but there you have it.

Lately we have seen an unhealthy cycle of behavior, wherein my oldest daughter gets in trouble, gets very upset (usually the level of reaction is disproportionate to the consequence she is faced with), and then calls my mother. A recent example is that she was at a sleepover and stayed up until 4:30 a.m.(!), after being told explicitly by her friend's mother (at 3:30 a.m.) to go to bed. Her consequence was being grounded from the computer, DVDs, and playing outside with friends for the remaining four days of school break. Enraged and in tears, off to the computer she goes to Skype with my mom, sobbing the whole time, giving an incomplete account of the events, then adding how unhappy she is at school and how mean people are to her (news to me?!). This amounts to her "tattling" on me, and then my mom asks to speak with me.

Not cool people. My mom claims that she's merely there to listen to her granddaughter anytime she needs to talk, thereby implying that I am not, but she questions me as if she has any clue what goes on in our house--half a world away--with our children! Needless to say, I was in no mood to have a conversation with her about my parenting, and I am still shocked that (after raising me!!) she can't see how she's being manipulated.

I realize it must be difficult, as a grandparent, to get a phone call from a grandchild who is upset and for whom you can do nothing because of, among other things, a huge distance of space separating you. I understand that, as a grandparent, your perspective as someone outside the household may be different from those on the inside, which perhaps enables you to notice things the "insiders" don't notice. However, you (the grandparent) are NOT the Mama (or the Daddy)! You have to realize that your adult children may not parent the same way you did, and this could actually be a good thing. We understand your experience and wisdom, but we also deserve some respect for the hard work we do every day with our children. Considering that my mom has never really had to co-parent (not only b/c my parents divorced when I was 10, but also b/c my dad was rarely home when they were married), and considering that she has never experienced a blended family, I really don't see how she thinks she can make judgements about the way Hubby and I parent our children.

The only conclusion I can come to is that having grown-up kids is just as hard as having young ones. They drive you crazy. And when they're young, it's your job to jump in, correct, play judge and referee, and dole out consequences. When they're adults, especially adults with kids of their own, they still drive you crazy....But you're supposed to sit still and keep quiet, at least until your opinion, advice, etc. is requested. This must be maddening. I hope I'll remember it when I'm a grandparent.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I can imagine it's difficult. As a parent herself, though, one would think she would realize that an upset child's version of events may not be the most accurate. Listening and then encouraging the young person to listen to reason (ahem, her parents) seems like the most appropriate response. I guess it gets confused when/if she feels like she still wants to parent you instead of supporting you as a parent. Yes, very tricky.