Parents of adult children say:
In our day the adage was “cut the apron strings at 18 and send them on their way!” That never happens now!If she doesn’t text me three times a day I know something is wrong.We have a “know to need “policy. We know when he needs something.
How much should I communicate with my adult children?
Will they think I am nosey if I call too often?
Will they think I have forgotten them if we only talk once a month?
Do your adult children enjoy checking in with you every day or two? GREAT! Or are your adult kids busy in their careers and family life and only call or visit once a month or so. Not unusual.
The question is not FREQUENCY of communication but the nature of the communication that should alert parents that an adjustment might need to be made in their relationship.
Margo calls her mom every day. As a career gal she checks in on her way to work to ask her mom’s opinion about the day Margo has planned. Margo details the work-out she had that morning before heading to work. She worries about maintaining her weight and asks her mom to research diets and nutritional for her. Last week Margo broke up with a guy she had been dating for three months. She could not put her finger on what was wrong with the relationship but she was sure something was not quite right. Her mom said it best when she explained to Margo, “You are just not soul-mates!” Even though Margo lives three states away she is never far from her mom.
Kent feels left out. He has five siblings still at home and wants to stay in touch with them. Since going off to college three years ago, he feels that the family has abandoned him. Although he talks to one of them every other day or so he does not feel like he “gets” them any more. Last month, when one older sister told Kent that another sister had become “really serious” with a boyfriend Kent could not believe that he was just now hearing about it. It is as if Kent has moved to another planet and his family has forgotten him!
Frequency of communication can vary with every family and every season.
Instead of focusing on HOW OFTEN
WHAT should I communicate with my adult children?
Most young adults have busy lives and we suspect they are “just too busy to call home.” But research tells us that the opposite might be true.
Studies from the General Social Survey in 2017 show that young adults (especially Millennials) are lonely and getting lonelier.
“Zero” is the most common number of confidants, reported by a quarter of those surveyed in 2017 when asked how many people they could talk to about “important matters.”
It is not the multitude of words or frequency of communication that determines a relationship but the depth of the message.
Deep connections are not all made with a daily check-in or advice on what to eat for breakfast. Connections are made through substantive concern and encouragement of what matters most to others.
A letter from John, our oldest son, reminds me that WHAT I say matters more than how often I speak. The letter came shortly after he had been at college. “Your sacrifice to send me here is not unnoticed,” the letter begins. For six concise paragraphs John thanks and encourages Ted and I to “seek those things which are above and set [our]mind on things above, not on things on the earth. (Colossians 3:1-4).
We did not then, nor do we now speak to John every week. But he never doubted we were on his team and his greatest fans… until he got married and had two kids. Now we are members of the growing fan club!
In my communication to my adult children I need to be encouraging them. I need to encourage them to stay the course in their marriage, their parenting, their calling, their schooling, and especially the hardest things in life.
They can pretty much figure everything else out for themselves.
PS Just as I was about to post this I get a text from a daughter (who may or may not be in this picture!)
“Am I ever gonna hear your voice again? It has been 40 forevers! “
Sometimes it is about the frequency! More on that next week.
Have communication advice or issues with your adults? Please comment below.