Yesterday, I had the experience of hosting my mother for the day while she visited with Firecracker. Without giving away too many personal facts, I'll just say that the best part of the visit is that I now have a new blog post subject. So, here is a list of 8 Simple Rules for Visiting Your Adult Daughter (Or Son). This isn't a cry for sympathy, but just a simple "How To," I hope to remember when Firecracker is grown. I tried to make it a little funny, but it's probably too serious.
- Don't Nag -- A good visit rarely starts out when a parent walks through the door, already complaining about how little they see you and soliciting more visits on a more frequent schedule. When that is one of the only two topics you can seem to really discuss for more than five minutes the entire visit, your daughter usually, quite truthfully, will want to spend even less time with you. When the other topic is a constant, one-sided discussion of a family matter that your daughter has put to rest for her own health and sanity, but you just can't seem let it go, you shouldn't expect favorable results. You're 95% likely to not change her mind.
- Don't Keep Score -- There is little more irritating to a daughter than when a parent attempts to keep score on how much time her family spends with her in-laws, other relatives, friends, and basically anyone who isn't you. That type of behavior is likely to result in stunted conversations with information withheld, because your daughter won't wish to tell you with whom she has been spending time. If you don't want her to like other people more than you, don't make a competition out of how much time she spends, where, and with whom. She's going to gravitate more toward the people who just enjoy her company and vice versa.
- Don't Rearrange, Redecorate, Replace, or Reclean -- Sure, you may think the sofa would look better at the other end of the room, that picture should be replaced with the one you brought, or (and this actually happened to a friend once) you use a better laundry detergent. That doesn't mean that your daughter will agree. She and (if married or co-habitating) her significant other have probably spent a great deal of time and discussion on furniture arrangements, decorations, and most likely like their laundry detergent and fabric softener. If your daughter has missed a spot in cleaning, don't pick up a paper towel and do it right. That's just insulting.
- Don't Constantly Give Unwanted Advice or Criticize -- Face it. You've done your job as a parent. Your child is grown up. She has a home of her own, possibly children of her own. She has put down roots. If she needs and wants advice from you, she'll ask for it. If no one's limbs are hanging by a thread, everyone seems well fed, clothed, cleaned, and disease free, she probably neither wants nor needs to be told not to stick her fingers in a fan. You covered that thirty years ago, and she'll cover it with her own kids. Also, your daughter's house may be a mess when you're there. She may not iron her family's clothes the way you would, or wear her hair the way you would prefer. If your daughter and her family are fine with the way things are, and they aren't hoarders or nasty, it's really not your place to say otherwise anymore.
- Don't Look For Problems Where They Don't Exist Or Try To Invent Them -- It's never easy realizing that your children no longer need you in the same capacity that they did for all of their growing up years. Back then, you were their hero and often saved the day whenever there was a problem. Fast forward to today. Your daughter doesn't need you in that capacity most days of her life. Please don't go looking and poking around for problems in order to save her day and be needed. Especially don't invent problems. Sit down and just relax. Be happy that your daughter is stable enough to take care of herself.
- Be An Adult -- You're no longer the big kahuna in your daughter's life. She doesn't always do everything your way. That also means that possibly you have to endure things not being done the way you like it when you're invited to spend time with her. Don't spend the entire visit sulking, because things are different than how you want them. You spent years teaching her to not act like a spoiled brat, don't start acting that way yourself now that she's grown.
- Don't Use Guilt As a Weapon To Get Your Way -- Guilt, if you watch television, is supposed to be a mother's weapon to get children to do what she wants. In reality it is a weak, lame, and hurtful attempt at getting your way. You may get what you want for a while, but you're also planting the seeds for resentment and eventually a skin so thick that empathy of any sort for you disappears.
- Be Gracious and Remember -- Your daughter has a life of her own and probably a job of some sort. She has a home and family all her own. She has friends and schedules to keep up with. I'm not suggesting you bow down with graciousness if she deems to spend time with you, but I am suggesting that you make yourself aware that she's taking time out of her life to spend with you. Daughters don't always have time to drop everything and spend a day shopping or just running around for a day. Most have about fifteen things they could be doing while they're spending time with you, and if they don't do them they don't get done. Whereas you may have more free time than you know what to do with now, your daughter is probably in the busiest, most hectic phase of her life. Time is precious and don't make her regret spending some of it with you. You were her parent for the years she needed a parent. Now is the time finally to try to just be her friend.
Any other advice you'd like to share?
Photo Credit: greencolander.
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