How I coped with my accident-prone young drivers

photo by Michael Carson

photo by Michael Carson

Show me a young adult driver who hasn’t had a car accident and I’ll show a young adult who doesn’t drive.

While this may not be totally true, it is the rare parent who has not had to deal with at least one accident their child has had while driving the family car. I have had literally an embarrassment of riches in this department. Among them, my three children have had eight, count ’em, eight accidents.

The first time my daughter had a car accident, I was at a loss as to what to do.  She had received her license a few weeks before and she wanted to meet a friend so she could study for her final high school exams. A few hours later, we received a call from her telling us she had an accident.  I found out she and her friend were going out for ice cream (which was not part of the agreed upon route) , when she turned a corner quickly and slid off the road, wet from rain, into a yard. She narrowly missed hitting a tree which the police officer told me could have killed her or her friend.

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How to enjoy a family trip with adult kids

Snorkeling with the kids: safer than white water tubing

Snorkeling with the kids: safer than white water tubing

Holidays with adult children are a far cry from stewing over how to occupy your young children during the 10 long weeks of summer. But like all vacations with children no matter what their age, they are a live and learn experience.

As I white watered down a river in Costa Rica with my husband and adult children, our handsome muscle bound guide obviously felt the need to quell the look of terror in my eyes.

“OK Mama! Just reach out and grab my arm as you go down these shutes. I will stop your tube from turning over. ”

Like the rock climbing, perhaps I should have sat this one out.  But I managed, despite spilling into the warm water regardless of the proffered arm. I even received special consideration from the guide as he pulled my canvas tube through sections where the river was quiet while the others had to paddle on their own.

Apart from the fact that the guide kept calling me Mama, the day was a dream. If this is vacationing with my adult children, I’m all for it.

But this holiday, like others before, taught me a few things about how to vacation with adult kids.

According to local travel agents, I have made some classic mistakes. Read More

Living with your in-laws: a growing trend

My Grandma or Mrs. Milligan to my Father

My Grandma or Mrs. Milligan to my Father

I grew up living with a grandmother in the house.

While it is not everyone’s idea of a good time to live with their parents or parents-in-law, it worked for my family.

My mom adored her quiet and undemanding mother. My father, who called her Mrs. Milligan all her life, took her in without complaint. Because of my father’s kindness to her mother, my mom called my dad “a prince among men” and had that nomer etched on his gravestone.  My father understood my grandmother’s situation because his own mother, my Nana, had similar limited means.  She lived with her daughter, my dad’s sister, and her husband.

Circumstances did not lead me to repeat that experience and I am not sure I would have been able to.  My mother and I would have been two clashing Alpha females and my mother-in-law was able to live on her own until she died.

But this generation is looking back in time for models for family living today. Young married couples are living with their parents and there are more multigenerational families than 30 years ago. The reasons vary–it could be to have help with the children, to afford a house or to offer help to an aging parent. But one thing is sure: it is a growing trend.

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Is helping with your kids’ mortgage really helping your kids?

Even a small house can cost a fortune

Even a small house can cost a fortune

My general rule of thumb for parenting is to let children, be they five or 35, do as much as possible for themselves. It makes them feel strong and competent and that goes a long way to making them feel happy.

While many parents are quick to help their adult children buy a house, my husband and I have not helped finance our children’s mortgages.  I am happy with our arrangement as it leaves us with much less complicated relationships.

Our children don’t feel financially beholden to us and because we have no propriety interest in their property, we’re more likely to refrain from giving unwanted advice.  In addition, our children have no sense of entitlement to our other assets.  I have seen this happen when parents help with mortgages and understandably, the parents are resentful. Read More

The bank of mom and dad: Financing your kids’ education

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It costs big bucks to provide your child with a university education. If you have more than one, it costs a small fortune. I know, as my husband and I helped our three children.

Apart from the noble goal of wanting them to value knowledge, we also wanted our kids to be able to look after themselves financially as adults; be debt free at the end of their first degree; and appreciate the cost of education. And not necessarily in that order.

So this is what we did. Read More

The bank of mom and dad: Helping kids financially

My twenty something son, who has a B.A. in anthropology, lives on next to no money. He works shifts at Starbucks and he often doesn’t get 40 hours a week.

But I am in awe of how of how happy he is and how well he lives on so little.  He lives in a $500 rent to income bachelor apartment in downtown Ottawa; he bikes everywhere in the summer and uses public transportation in the winter; he is a vegetarian and cooks with dried lentils and beans and he manages to go to the occasional concert and meet his friends for beer.

We don’t give him money because, not because we can’t afford to, but because we we think it is best for him to fend for himself.                                                                                                                                      
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