Tip-toeing in the garden of mothers-in-law

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There is a lovely article in the Huffington Post on becoming a new mother-in-law to your son’s wife. It is sweet, heart-rending and very real.

What’s your advice for new mothers-in- law?  I would love to hear from you so please leave your response in the Reply Box below.

Former NHL Player Patrick O’Sullivan suffered from his abusive father

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The most heart-rending interview showing how badly parenting can go wrong when parents live vicariously through their children was aired on CBC’s “The Current” yesterday.

Former NHL hockey player Patrick O’Sullivan was emotionally and physically abused at the hands of his father, a would-be hockey player who never fulfilled his dreams.  Patrick O’Sullivan told how his father John would return home late at night after a few drinks, wake up the sleeping boy and force him to exercise for hours to improve his hockey.  He made the young Patrick run home in his hockey gear after practice, no matter what the time or weather. He beat him, kicked him and called him names. Read More

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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Missing in action: kids who fail to communicate

Blog photos message to Andrew

I recently received the following e-mail from a worried friend in Toronto.  She had no contact with her son for 36 hours after the time he was expected to be home:

Andrew is MIA for 24 hours now, went out Friday night, Mike (his Dad) talked to him last evening and Andrew said he’d be home last night.   Hasn’t shown up.  He was supposed to go back to university in Hamilton  today.  Can’t find him – left 2 messages on his cell which went right to voice-mail, sent a text, no reply.  Now I’ve messaged him and his best friend on Facebook…  I’m mean: REALLY!   I know he’s almost 26 and all, but if he’s staying at our place, shouldn’t he let us know where he is, what his plans are?  I am starting to get concerned.

 Signed,

Anxious mom of irresponsible adult child 

My response:   Read More

Later! A Guide to Parenting A Young Adult

Later!I almost felt as if I were sitting in an office across from a fifty year old social worker and mother getting down to earth, no-nonsense advice on how to parent my adult child while reading “Later!” A Guide to Parenting A Young Adult.”

This is a how-to book, full of practical tips and if we are sensible, the authors seem to be saying, we will just get on with it. There is no room in this book for self-pitying, self recrimination or advice to stop blaming yourself for any poor behaviour your child may be exhibiting.

This is not to say that Later! is not a good book.  In fact, I thought it was excellent.

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Ten things I wish I told my mother

Violet Milligan at 17--later my very strong mother

A photo of my mother at 17 that reveals none of her strength

 

Would’ ve, should ‘ ve, could’ ve. 

Three words that apply to at least some parts of everyone’s life.

Here are ten things I should have told my mother when I was an adult child.

1. I wish you would say you love me.  You never do, you didn’t even when I was a child. I know you love me and you will always help me but it would mean so much to hear you say it. 

2. Thank you for not being demanding in terms of my time.  I am very aware of my obligations to you and Dad and obviously you realize that. You also understand how busy I am with my job and three children and you let me manage my life without adding another layer of guilt and responsiblity. As a result, I don’t resent spending time with you.

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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

Coping with an estranged child

The light at the door Michael Carson photo

The light at the door
Michael Carson photo

“Sometimes all we can do is leave the porch light on with a key under the mat.”

That is one of the most heart-rending pieces of advice I read in a recent Huffington Post article for parents who are unwillingly estranged from their adult children.  The article includes advice from five experts on family relationships and all of them encourage parents to never stop reaching out to their child.

The article reminded me of my own experience with my parents as a young adult.  Although we were never estranged there was a period when I pulled away because I felt the disapproval  of my parents.   My youthful experiments were beyond their comprehension.  I don’t know whether they were more aghast when they learned I occasionally smoked marijuana or when my mother found my birth control pills in my purse.  I was no young teenager–I was 22 at the time and had a steady boyfriend.  Read More

When Your Adult Child Breaks Your Heart

20514.widea“When Your Adult Child Breaks You Heart”  is a wonderfully practical, well-organized and straight forward book intended to help parents of adult children with severe problems and who are causing major problems for themselves, their parents and others.

The authors Joel L. Young and Christine Adamec have written extensively on similar topics and know their subject well. This book was published in 2014.

The authors set the tone by explaining that most parents are not to blame for their child’s difficulties and they are determined to help parents stop blaming themselves. The authors believe that mental illness and substance abuse are the core of most problematic behaviour.

They reassure parents by saying that if you can’t think what terrible thing you did to doom your adult child, than you probably didn’t do any terrible thing at all. They provide exercises for  parents to help them realize the limitations of their influence over their child.

They recognize that parents of these children are psychologically traumatized by their previous encounters with the police or courts, and when sensing new problems, their anxiety can turn into panic and depression.

They try to mitigate concerns such as :

  • if I try hard enough I can help my child;
  • I must sacrifice to support my child;
  • no-one amongst our family or friends has ever acted so badly; and
  • if my child loved me he or she would not act this way.

Read More