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

Should governments and parents of hostages pay ransom to terrorist groups?

New YorkerWhile most of us sat numbly in our living rooms watching the news about the beheading of journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, their parents and parents of three other adult children taken hostage by terrorist groups in Syria had been working behind the scenes to ensure the release of their children. They had limited support from the American government.

Only one, Theo Padnos, was saved. The other four, including James and Steven and Peter Kassig and Kayla Mueller were killed.

The July issue of the New Yorker reports on this sad story.  The parents were brought together by media mogul David Bradley, who was committed to helping free the hostages, after he helped free one of his freelance writers who had been taken hostage in the middle east.  The American government had little involvement in solving that case and Bradley realized that the parents of these other five hostages would need help to obtain the freedom of their children. Bradley provided financial resources, contacts and skills.

Read More

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.

Read More

Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother’s Day everyone!  I am thankful I have lots to be happy about and here is why:

1. My heart sings each time I see one of my three kids.

2. I have two wonderful sons-in-law, who also make my heart sing.

3. All three kids and kids-in-law live in the same city I do.

4. All five are thoughtful and concerned citizens of Canada and the world.

5.  They have a father/ father-in-law who cares about their well-being.

6. I see them regularly, but we don’t sit in each others’ pockets.

7. They still come to me for advice, even if they don’t take it.

8. All of them are the longest blooming flowers I have ever seen.  Watching them change and grow is like magic before my very eyes.

9.  They keep teaching me about the world.

10.  They keep teaching me about myself, especially how much I can love.

Read More

Advice for young job hunters

Go to the Globe and Mail homepage

Today’s Globe and Mail has an excellent insert for Gen Y.  You may be interested in discreetly leaving it on the kitchen table for your 20 something young adult or (not so discreetly) forwarding them the links to the online version.

Canada’s Top Employers for Young People lists 90 companies that share a commitment to helping young people transition into the working world.

Yesterday, Victoria Hoffman wrote about job hunting and the need for young people to network. Another useful resource for your young person.

Our kids may not take our advice, but they may absorb something they read.  Good luck to you and to them!  Read More

Actions speak louder than words

Life is a puzzle

Life is a puzzle

My friend Mary has been in despair about her 29 year old son Jeff for some time. He often treats her with contempt.

Jeff has been living in Vancouver for the past five years where he works as a manager for a large department store. He stays with Mary when he returns to Ottawa to visit family and friends.

When she asks him how his day went, he might reply that it is none of her business, or he gives a one word answer. He leaves dishes in the sink after making himself some food and ignores Mary’s request that he clean up after himself.  When Mary planned a pot luck birthday party for his sister, Jeff told Mary she just wanted to get out of work.  (And what’s wrong with that, I might ask!)

Jeff also fails to return his mother’s telephone calls or e-mails.  Mary is always the one to initiate contact and then she waits, hoping she will hear from him.

The most recent of Jeff’s transgressions is that he failed to answer a previously arranged telephone call with Mary. There was no e-mail advising Mary that he wouldn’t be available and no follow-up e-mail apologizing for not answering the call.

Mary decided that it was time to act. She sent him this e-mail: Read More

Matchmaking moms know best!

For a tongue-in-cheek look at how mothers are trying to find mates for their adult children, read the New York Times article by  Risa Doherty.  The self deprecating humour is hilarious!

Of course, I never got involved in matchmaking myself. I was above that sort of thing.  A little question here and a small word of encouragement there, was all I ever did. And no-one paid any attention anyway. I resorted to talking to my friends about when and if my children would find a partner.  Now that two are married, the heat is off the third.  At least, for the moment.

Read More

Stealing an adult child’s life: A sad arrangement

The Oscar winning movie “Still Alice” is disturbing on many fronts but what haunts me most is the possibility that Alice, a woman in in her early 50’s struggling with early onset Alzheimer’s, could steal her daughter’s youth.

Out of love and compassion, Alice’s younger daughter moves to New York from the west coast to look after her ailing mom, while the other members of the family move on with their lives, including Alice’s husband who decides to pursue his career in another city.

I had the same concern  after reading “They Left Us Everything”, a memoir by Plum Johnson about dismantling the family home after her mother’s death and through the process, coming to terms with her relationship with her mother.   Johnson looked after her parents from her early forties to her early sixties and she chronicles her growing resentment and anger during this period until her mother died at 93. Her mother, a cantankerous and self centered old soul, stole Johnson’s middle age.

What starts out as an act of love can turn into a test of endurance and I pray my children will be spared that fate. Read More

All parents are cowards

NY Times

There is a wonderful article in today’s New York Times about the need to let go of your children, whether they’re two or twenty-two.  Michael Christie brings the issue alive by recounting his own experience with letting go, first with his mother and then with his boys, in his article “All Parents are Cowards“.