We spend between 18 and 20 years looking after our kids, only to have too much time on our hands after they leave the nest. Fortunately, there is someone who understands what you’re going through; your own parents. Although you might have already forged a friendship with them as adult while you asked them for parenting advice, this is now a new chapter of your life, and hopefully a new stage of your relationship with your parents.
Hang out with them
You might already see your parents on a regular basis, but you might have had your kids or spouse as a buffer. Now that your kids are grown and occupied with their own commitments, it might be time to spend some time with your folks one on one. Treat your mom to a spa day or take your dad to a ball game, and invite them over for dinner at your house. Not only is it good for you to get advice on guiding your children through adulthood, but your parents might live longer as a result of your visits. The study, Loneliness in Older Persons, studied 1,600 adults with an average age of 71. It revealed that that nearly 23 percent of lonely participants died within six years of the study, compared to only 14 per cent of those that reported experiencing adequate levels of companionship.
Check on their health
They don’t want to admit it, but your parents aren’t getting any younger. If you spend time with them on a regular basis, you’ll be more aware of any changes in their behavior and decline in their health. Hopefully it’ll be a long time before you have to look into palliative and end of life care for your parents, and your visits might motivate them to take care of themselves if they suspect something is wrong. Just make sure you’re not evaluating their health on each visit; they might not be as young as the used to be, but they won’t appreciate being treated as invalids. Additionally, you’ll set a great example for your own children; if they see you maintaining a good relationship with your parents as adults, then they’ll make similar efforts with you.
Be mature in dealing with judgments
You are your own person, so you are likely to have different opinions from your parents, who are likely pretty set in their ways by now. However, there is a mature way of dealing with their judgments. An adult-to-adult conversation is required if they’ve strongly implied they don’t approve of your decisions. If there is no satisfactory resolution, then firm boundaries are needed to protect your life choices.
Know your limits
Even if you love your parents, seeing them too often can get overwhelming. To protect any progress you have made in your relationship, you must know your limits for family time and put yourself first, even if it means temporarily upsetting them. You can make it up to them the next time you get together.