Category Archives: daughters

Distraction Dilemma: Breaking, Breaking News



As I drove out of the supermarket parking lot yesterday, I congratulated myself. Proud that I remembered to bring my groceries with me!

Years ago on a nice spring evening, a Thursday, I exited the same supermarket parking lot minus the eight bags of food and drink items I had just purchased.

Back in the days when my daughter was on the crew team at her high school. Moms (always the moms, let’s be honest here) took turns hosting the team on the Friday nights before Saturday morning regattas. We put on big spreads which, if memory serves, mostly featured some kind of pasta casserole, bowls of salad and buckets of garlic bread. I’m sure there must have been a vegetable side dish and dessert too.

On that Thursday before my turn at hosting the team dinner, I drove after work to the supermarket nearest my house with the “Crew Dinner To Buy” list in my purse. It was dinner time – I was hungry, I was tired, so was everyone else. My body may have been at the store – but my mind was still downtown – at the law firm  – too many client matters remained on that “To Do” list.  I walked up and down the aisles, pulling the items for the anticipated bunch of carb-craving teen athletes in a semi-automated fashion.

The check out lady smiled as she scanned my purchases – having a big party? Yes, I probably said. I paid, left the store and steered the overflowing cart outside the store and left it in the “pick up” area against the silver bars en route to the parking lot.  My intent must have been to get into my car and drive around to the pick up lane to retrieve the eight bags from the cart.

But instead I drove home. Two miles away.  I pulled into my driveway. Still thinking about work, I am sure. Knowing I had emails to check and a project to complete. Parked. Then opened the trunk to find it empty. Because I had left all of the bags in the cart in front of the supermarket. A swear word was likely emitted at that point.

That is the last time I recall being as distracted as I have been in recent weeks.

I did drive right back to the store. Luckily, the cart was where I had left it 10 minutes earlier, I put the bags in the trunk, drove home, took the groceries out, unpacked them, made dinner for my family, caught up on work  – and then hosted the crew dinner the next night. You know the busy/working/mom drill.

I no longer work downtown (still a mom though, and now a grandmother too, just for the record so you can tell that maybe through increased age alone, I’ve earned the right to have distracted moments.)

But now I am distracted much of the time. No longer by lawyering. Or by my kids. Or by my husband. Not by events on my calendar. And I do not have a sudden onset of ADD nor any neurological problem (I get checked.) No, my distraction comes from my own inability to focus for more than 10 minutes without having an insistent craving to turn on the news.

So I do. I check my twitter feed. I look up news alerts. I listen to the radio. I have the TV on in the background. All for fear of missing some new crisis that might have happened while I was doing the laundry or taking a shower.

The crises keep erupting, one piling on top of another, breaking news breaking into new breaking news, breathless reporters and chatty commentators. And yes, I could turn it off. Yes, I should turn it off. But I keep checking for updates.

Last night at book club we talked about this. A few of my friends are not as dominated by the need-to-know-now as I am. Lucky them! Others seem to be able to stay in control of their news needs. I’m jealous.

Part of my problem is I am less busy in the summer. I’m not taking a writing class this summer. With the end of the school year, my college-advising volunteer projects have slowed. Fewer meetings, a lighter schedule, more unstructured time.

Anticipating this summer lull, I created my own structure. A big project.  My Work-In-Progress. I am writing a novel. Writing at least four days a week.  The plan is to complete the draft by the end of August before fall semester begins and I am back in the classroom (with homework.)

What’s my “WIP” about, you ask?

A working mom, a lawyer, with two kids (how creative to use my own life as inspiration!?) dealing with friendships that go awry, possibly unscrupulous clients and unexpectedly competitive colleagues.  I even wrote an outline. And I’ve already written 50 pages – 15, 556 words, to be exact. Only 64,444 more words to go!

If only I could be more disciplined. More disciplined and not as susceptible to distractions. Like I once was as a law firm partner. Busy, busy, busy. Far too occupied to fret about possible news of ultra-scary national and world events.

Or maybe that was a less complicated time when breaking news didn’t break every ten minutes. Focus, I keep telling myself. Look away from the media. But it is difficult. Distraction is my biggest dilemma this summer.

I am certain I am not alone in feeling this way.


Filed under Book Club, Communications, daughters, Law firm life, Lawyers, Social Media, Women, Working Moms, Working Moms, Working Women, Writing

On Being a Mom Without a Mom on Mother’s Day

Red knitwork, horizontal

“Yes, Mom, what do you want?” I said quietly into the phone. “My boss is sitting right here, I can’t talk now.”

My Mom had been calling me every day at the office for six months. She had been diagnosed with colorectal cancer in the spring of my 3rd year of law school.

As a newly-minted lawyer at a government agency in downtown DC, my first job, with a boss and my own office (albeit very small and without a window), I was learning to deal with her daily calls.

No, I can’t tell you that,” I told her.

She persisted.

Please, just tell me what your bra size is,” she asked again.

Mom, c’mon, I’m at work, I’m in my office,” I pleaded. “My boss, he’s a man, he is in my office, too.”

She pleaded right back.

I’m at the yarn store in Westport. I’m knitting you a sweater. Just give me the number.”

I gave up.

36B,” I whispered into the phone, as my boss rolled his eyes upward, squelching a laugh.

Exactly one year later my Mom died of cancer. (well, actually she died because of malpractice related to her cancer but that is a tale for another time.) She was 54 years old, I was 28.

I still have the beautiful red, V-neck cotton sweater with the just-below-the-elbow length sleeves she made me, although it no longer fits. It was as stylish then as it is now. She was a woman of both good taste and great kindness.

Some women complain that their elderly moms call them too often.

Every night, can you believe it, she calls me every single night, and then she worries if I am not home by 9 p.m. She tells me to eat my vegetables, have I gotten an eye check up lately, she bugs me about the kids or my job or my husband. When are we going to visit her? Who’s going to drive her to her doctor appointments? Or run to the store to get her a new light bulb or better reading glasses. I’m tired of hearing her complaints about who did or who didn’t sit with her at dinner. Honestly, my mom is driving me crazy. Doesn’t she know what a busy life I have?

I bet she does know you have a life. Hers is shrinking in scope, yours isn’t and she wants to be a part of it.

My Mom called me at the office for over a year when she was ill. Then one day she stopped calling. Three weeks later, on a sunny spring afternoon in May as my Dad and I sat by her bed, holding her hand, in the ICU of a cancer hospital in New York City, hearing the beeps from the machines that had kept her alive ebb away, she died. It was mid-afternoon, on the Tuesday after Mother’s Day. Thoughtful as ever, she chose, I felt, to wait and not ruin the holiday for us.

I would give anything for one more phone call, nagging, annoying, insistent, critical, I’d take it.

And you know what, Mom, I’d say? You have two wonderful granddaughters and two terrific grandsons that you never got to meet. And in 2013 you became a great-grandparent, too.

What else would I tell her? Oh yes, my bra size has changed in the past 34 years. I don’t like the color red as much as I once did. But the sweater remains in my closet and it always will.

Miss you forever, Mom! Happy Mother’s Day.




Filed under 1st Grandchild, 1st Job, Adult Kids, Aging, Aging Parents, Baby Boomers, daughters, Family, Female Friends, Holidays, Lawyers, Moms, Women, Working Women

“Nina” – not “Nana” – and I’m Fine With That

FullSizeRender (5)


The most eventful thing that happened to me last week didn’t happen to me. It happened to our daughter and our son-in-law. She had a baby – which for those of you who are counting know is her second child. Which means I am a grandmother 2x.

How did this happen?

Well, I know how it happened technically  – and that intimate part is thankfully between our daughter and her husband. But exactly how did time pass to this point – where I am supposed to be able to somehow casually admit, oh yes, I’m a grandmother, that part I haven’t quite wrapped my mind around.

While I adore the two little guys, I stumble over the word “grandmother” – and all it implies as an image to others.

Earlier today I had to fill in a form that called for you to check off your occupation. I hesitated. No, I’m not a “Lawyer” anymore (but wait, once a lawyer, always a lawyer?). I couldn’t exactly check the box for “Homemaker” either – though my hard-working husband would be most happy if he arrived home at night to find me cooking his dinner more often than I do. The box for “Retired”, forget it. I’m adamant in thinking of myself as semi-retired.  And the form did not contain a box for “semi-retired.”

Neither did the form have an occupation box called “grandmother.” If it had, I probably could not have brought myself to check that one either.

Why am I so afraid of the labels that imply aging when they are factually correct?

I think back to my own grandmothers, both of whom I was lucky enough to know, and up come images of printed dresses,  papery, wrinkled cheeks to kiss and being enveloped wafts of strong perfume. My sister and I would visit them in their respective apartments, filled with figurines, memorabilia and the latest TV Guide magazines. We took them out to dinner on Sunday nights for Chinese food, then considered a rare treat.  The more stylish (fresh lipstick always) of our grandmothers had six grandchildren; the more comfy of the two had twelve.

They were the classic grandmother types. I’m not in that mold, I like to think.

I catch myself consciously practicing to be the “young” grandmother type.  Our older grandson calls me “Nina.” A variant on my first name, Nancy and the word “Nana”. He picked the name on his own – and to my ears, “Nina” sounds youthful and hip. It goes along with my getting down on the floor to build Lego towers, stretching play dough into colorful ropes and taking walks to the playground to go on the slide.

Were my grandmothers ever the “Nina” type?

In my memories they sat on couches or in heavily upholstered chairs; they never crouched on wood floors to stack blocks or line up trucks in a row.  Did they read to us when we were little or mostly pinch our cheeks and then make soup? They certainly didn’t drape themselves in blankets and create pretend forts.

So therefore I cannot really be a grandmother because I don’t act or look like the grandmothers I once knew.

I am a “Nina” instead. And I’m not alone in this – wanting to be perceived as the youthful g-ma type. A friend of mine who has two grandchildren likes to be called “Mimi” and another has her three grandchildren call her “Gigi”.

Likely we fool no one with these young-ish sounding names. But somehow they make us feel better that we haven’t morphed into our parents’ parents generation.

The photos we post on Facebook (with permission of our adult children, of course) show us being active grandparents. Look at us, how energetic and playful we are. Hardly grandmotherly at all, we say to the world.

At a meeting last night, a friend came up to me to offer congratulations (although as noted above, I had nothing to do with it) on our daughter’s new baby. The friend hugged me, then pulled away to look at me –  assessing my appearance.  Non-Mom jeans, a dark cardigan sweater, stylish (I think) short black boots.

“You look pretty good for a grandmother,” she said.


I guess it was meant as a compliment.  Maybe my friend is also recollecting her own black and white photos of an apron-wearing grandmother at the stove.

25 years from now will my two grandsons look at old photos of me (assuming they make it into print and aren’t forever trapped inside an iPhone) –  and think how stodgy and old-fashioned their “Nina” looked way back then? And yet we called her “Nina” – wasn’t she fun, I hope they will say.

How she loved being with us, singing silly songs and playing on the floor. Just like “Ninas” are supposed to be.





Filed under 1st Grandchild, Adult Kids, Aging, Baby Boomers, daughters, Empty Nest, Family, Female Friends, Parenting, Retirement, Semi-Retired, Women

Top Five Reasons I Dislike Being a Grandmother

social media and tablet 3dCaught your attention with that headline? Did it grab your interest and make you want to read on? Good! – That was my goal.

Because I plan to tell the students in the Blogging 101 workshop I am leading that writing posts styled as “Lists” or offering “Controversial Opinions” promise to “drive huge traffic” to your blog.

I learned that critical nugget of social media wisdom while researching How to Grow Your Blog Audience – one of the workshop’s topics.

I won’t share with the class, however, that I hate being told what to write to gain the most readers.  Lists? Not my thing. Controversial Opinions? Fine, but only if that is what flows naturally.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy reading about the craft of writing. I accept (constructive) writing criticism gladly. But advice about content marketing such as:  “Top 10 Tips for Search Engine Optimization” and “Six Proven Ways to Attract Readers To Your Blog”. Titles like that make me gag.

Content does rule. It must be excellent. Better yet, compelling. And as I said in last week’s workshop, your writing voice should sound like your speaking voice. Relatable. Authentic. The Real You.

Tomorrow – assuming the snow plows locate our post-blizzard neighborhood – I will suggest to the students that they certainly can write lists if they are motivated to do so. But if their writing is beach sand dry, no one will read past list item #1. Offer a controversial opinion, yup, you will draw attention – but you may not like the attention you get – particularly if your opinion is irrational or irrelevant.

But – perhaps the social media experts DO know best?

So I will try a little experiment here in this post. Our two-year-old grandson recently stayed with us for several brief nights and very long days. Thus, I fully qualify as an expert, if not on social media, then on grandmother-hood.

I hereby test the social media waters to see if they will shower me with attention based upon the following:


Top Five Reasons I Dislike Being a Grandmother”


1. Stepping on stray Legos. In bare feet. As painful as it was in my Young Mom days.

 2. Listening to Raffi. “Baby Beluga” may be a fine song the first 5o times you hear it. Less so on number 51 and beyond.
3. Diapers.  Now made with splashier designs and fancier tape mechanisms, but their content remains odiferous. Why hasn’t some brilliant millennial entrepreneur created a scent-absorbing diaper?
4.Being Asked to Spend $$$ to stock up on Organic Everything.  Organic milk, o.k. maybe that makes sense but organic macaroni and cheese, really?
5. Having to tiptoe quietly, please, around our own house lest we wake the Visiting Napping Toddler. He sets all of the rules even though he is the youngest. Is that fair?


There, I did it, you read it here first. In a single post I offer both a Top Five List and a Controversial Opinion. That should drive the search engines wild! My blog traffic will likely go through the roof. People from all over the country will be tweeting asking me to visit their city to teach a blogging course. Soon I will be earning zillions with My Top Ten Tips On How To Grow Your Blog Audience.

Or else I will go back to writing exactly what I want to write. I think I will tell my students in Blogging 101 to do just that.




Filed under 1st Grandchild, Adult Kids, Baby Boomers, Blogging, Communications, daughters, Empty Nest, Parenting, Second Careers, Social Media, Women, Writing

What’s in a (Baby’s) Name? – Millennials vs Boomers

NLW baby picture

Our adult daughter has her 32nd birthday this week. It’s her birthday, she gets to celebrate, she gets the gifts – but the memory of the day belongs to me.

Since I was the one who did ALL the work and was present “in the moment” while she made only a brief, late and loud appearance.

My husband was indeed present but not for the entire event. Later a nurse told me he appeared somewhat faint and had to (was asked to) leave the room. He triumphantly returned for the “it’s a girl” announcement and it was he, not me, who responded when the question came –

“What’s the baby’s name?”

Choosing a baby’s name was – and is –  the fun part. But far different today than it was 30-some years ago.

My husband and I felt the weight of expectations of generations that came before us when choosing a name.

Our daughter, pregnant now with her 2nd child, does not feel this weight. Her husband doesn’t either.

It’s not that they are selfish, it is just that they are millennials.

I have done absolutely zero research to reach this conclusion, unless you call my frequent perusal of websites such as babynamewizard and nameberry – and many similar sites for expectant parents of every demographic stripe.

We (boomers) did not have the internet to guide us in selecting a baby name.

We had exactly two sources:

1. Our parents memories and wishes which we listened to.

2. Books of suggested baby names (printed on actual paper) which we read.

When I was pregnant, my aunt sent me a book on baby names designed to help Jewish parents come up with names that honored their deceased relatives as fits our tradition.  I wanted to use my mother’s Hebrew name as a starting point. That led to its own set of arguments as my dad and my mother’s brothers had different recollections of what my mother’s Hebrew name actually was. And she wasn’t around to tell us.

My husband wanted to honor the memory of his grandmother who helped raise him. And I (respecting my own 1970’s feminist ethos) wanted to give the baby my own last name as a middle name.

I was also influenced by, a somewhat inexplicable in retrospect but fervent at the time, admiration for the British royal family owing to a business trip I took to the UK just before I became pregnant in 1983.  Images of babies named Charles, Diana, Edward and Elizabeth filled my dreams.

Ultimately, our daughter and then our son were given lovely, traditional names to honor family members no longer with us.

Our daughter and her husband have more naming options – and stronger voices of their own, like their millennial brethren.

They will pick a name that suits them. And them alone. It won’t be fanciful, or celebrity-based or (I hope) have a bizarre spelling.

Their biggest concern? They don’t want to select a popular baby name that “everyone else” is using. So I know not to expect to have a grandchild named – Daniel or Noah – or Ava or Emma. (sigh, I am fond of those names.)

It’s their baby – and I respect that (though as I edge towards sleep each night, I make mental lists of names I hope they won’t choose – “Please, let them not chose Cole, Cooper or Cale.” Nothing against those names if they are in your family, but they make me squirm.

My husband and I endlessly discussed and discarded baby names (“Kenneth,” No, that sounded like a dentist. “Douglas,” No, that was someone my husband didn’t like in grade school. “Diana,” my husband put his foot down at that one. “Beth,” too timid, as in the famed Little Women character of my childhood favorite book.).

Our millennial daughter and her husband will use spread sheets to guide their baby name decision-making process.

Our son-in-law (yes, you guessed it, he has an MBA) and my born-an-organizational-expert daughter invented a method for their first child’s name that they will adopt for their second.

The other night at dinner this method was explained to me as follows:

  • A month before the baby’s due date, a spread sheet is created
  • The spread sheet contains three columns
  • Column #1 is where our daughter lists her preferred baby names
  • Column #3 is where our SIL lists his preferred names
  • Spread sheet is shared by both parties
  • In the center Column #2  is created on which the overlapping names agreed upon by both parties are listed
  • Spread sheet is again shared
  • The process continue until there are several overlapping names in Column #2
  • Baby name is selected by joint agreement of both parties from among the overlapping names in Column #2

An efficient and effective millennial method of dealing with a highly emotional decision, don’t you think?

Could I live with a new grandchild named Cooper, Cole – or Cale?  Of course. Unless they decide to spell the latter name, Kale, in the ultimate millennial joke on their boomer parents. Then all bets are off.









Filed under 1st Grandchild, Adult Kids, Baby Boomers, Books, Communications, daughters, Empty Nest, Family, Husbands, Marriage, Moms, Parenting, Women

When a Friend’s Mom Dies “Old” – and Yours Died “Young”




Mom at party


I was standing in my kitchen yesterday when my close friend Liz called. Her mother had died. She was 92-years-old and was in failing health.

My mom died in 1981 when I was 28 and she was 54. She died “young”. I guess you could say that Liz’s mom died “old.”

Does it make it easier on a daughter (or son) if your mom dies at a ripe old age?

Or does it make it harder to lose her since you had her in your life for many more years?

When I sat down earlier today to write Liz a sympathy note – yes, handwritten, yes on personal stationery, yes, very old-school, just the way my mom taught me to do – I wasn’t sure what to say.

In my head I think Liz was pretty lucky. Her mom lived to see grandchildren. Mine did not. Her mom was around to answer questions in Liz’s young mom days. Mine was not. Her mom was an honored guest at the weddings of two of her grandchildren. Mine never had that chance.

I’m not sure Liz saw it that way. The last few years for her mom were rough ones. No matter the number of calls or visits, and Liz was a most devoted caregiver, her mom was always lonely. Liz was busy, worked hard, had her own life; her mom’s life had narrowed.

Perhaps Liz doesn’t even remember what her mom was like in the prime years of her life.

Whereas that is the only way I can think of mine. Age 54. Active, vibrant, on the go. Back to school to get another master’s degree in education. Volunteering in good causes. Taking on leadership roles in non-profits. Hosting family holidays. Watching my sister and I move through our twenties into grad school, boyfriends, marriages, lives.

Then on a random Tuesday – poof – my mom was there one night and the next morning she was gone. I didn’t know she was dying. She didn’t either. (I hope) Am I jealous that Liz got to be with her mom to ease her through her later years as best she could? Or am I secretly jealous that I didn’t have to bear that burden of elderly care-giving?

Likely I would have had many less than admirable caregiver moments. I can be impatient. I might have thought it a personal imposition to give up my time to meet my aging mother’s needs, to take her to endless doctor’s appointments, to deal with insurance, hospitals and aides. I didn’t have to deal with any of that. As Liz ably did.

What do I write to Liz?

“Sorry for your loss.”

Ridiculously trite and also untrue because while I am sorry, and it is a loss, her mother is not going to ever be found. She is permanently gone. There is no death lost and found of which I am aware.

“Hoping your memories will be of comfort.”

This is a phrase I have trotted out before. It is marginally helpful because memories over time do provide some comfort. But then they start to fade. In the first few years after my mom died, she made regular appearances in my dreams. But now I must look at photos to recapture a sense of what she looked and can only guess at what she sounded like.

What I like to do when I write notes of sympathy is to share my own memories of the person who died.

Recalling how Liz’s mom would show up for a visit carrying packages of chicken in her suitcase because the chicken she could buy in New Jersey tasted better than anything you could buy in the DC area.

The time we took Liz’s mom to the beach for the weekend; she loved seeing the ocean again, told me it reminded her of living near the shore when she was raising her family.

When Liz’s mom was in the hospital, I visited her and brought her some chocolate truffles. Liz’s mom, like Liz, was a chocolate connoisseur. After eagerly accepting the candy, she promptly hid the box in the top drawer of the table next to her hospital bed. She did not want to share her chocolates with anyone. I liked that about Liz’s mom.

I happened to be in her hospital room that day when a doctor stopped by – and he stood by the door, barely inside her room. He didn’t even greet Liz’s mom, just started to bark out information and orders.

Not on my watch. I spoke right up and urged the doctor to come in, to stand right next to her bed, I told him that Liz’s mom had very poor eyesight and hearing. She couldn’t see or hear him. He needed to walk into the room, all the way, please, and stand by her bed.

The doctor asked me who I was. I admitted I was not a relative. He finally deigned to stroll into the room to stand next to his patient’s bed and talk directly to her – not at her. A small victory.

I didn’t do much for Liz’ s mom over the years. Not as much as I should have or could have. I listened to Liz when she called me, when she was worried about her mom and when she complained about her, too.

I don’t know that I would have done as much as I should or could have for my mom either. Had she lived. But she didn’t. Liz’s mom did. And Liz now has her memories which I hope will be of comfort.





Filed under 1st Grandchild, Aging, Aging Parents, Baby Boomers, Communications, daughters, Family, Female Friends, friendship, Letters, Moms, Talking, Women, Writing

“Let Them Learn From Failure”: Does it Apply When Parenting Our Adult Kids?


Wait, so you can’t insist that your adult “child” do what he/she doesn’t want to do?

All joking aside, this question has been an ongoing life lesson for me – and also a much discussed topic among my friends who also have adult “kids” (italicized because while they are no longer little children, we are still their perennial parents.)

What can we do if we think our adult “kid” is about to fail?

It is our strongest instinct as parents to rescue our children.  But we shouldn’t always do so, says author and teacher, Jessica Lahey in her recent, thoughtful book “The Gift of Failure”. Parents of growing children do them no favors by scooping them up on the playground of life to save them from every slip and fall. When our children are young, Lahey explains, they learn from failure so we must let them experience it, rather than always rushing in to protect them from its’ consequences.

(a concept I well knew in theory, but then again years ago when my high school son left his biology textbook in his locker at school that evening before a big exam…)

But what happens when our growing children are all grown up?

If our young child falls off of a playground slide, his scraped knee heals. If our teenager doesn’t get accepted into the college of his choice, likely he will do fine at another school.

But if we think our adult son is about to enter a disastrous marriage, our adult daughter is in a relationship harmful to her mental health or our son’s partying ways are spinning out of control, the stakes are much higher, aren’t they?

Lately my friends and I have been sharing our worries about our adult “kids.”

  • My friend L.’s 30-year-old daughter struggles in a tumultuous  relationship with an unkind man. Upset and crying, the daughter calls L. and says that despite how he acts, she really loves him and can’t part ways. Can’t she see, L. wonders, that she is hurting herself by staying with him?


  • The 26-year-old son of my friend H. recently began his first post-grad school job at a big financial firm. He’s always been a model kid, dutiful, well-behaved but suddenly (?) has started to go out to bars with friends every night, partying till the wee hours and arriving late at work. He just received a warning notice from his boss. Can’t he see, H. thinks, that he is messing up at a critical time?


  • C.’s  29-year-old son brought his girlfriend home to meet C. and her husband.  The girlfriend’s strongly controlling manner upsets C., as does her son’s changed behavior. She thinks her son is about to announce his engagement. Should she tell her son she thinks that marriage to this woman would be a mistake?

Do parents of adult “kids” always know best?

Parents believe that we have clear (yet hardly objective) vision with our kids’ best interests in mind. That our kids are the ones with the big blind spots that prevent them from recognizing bad choices.  Surely, if we point out to our adult “kids” what we know to be true – they will promptly turn to us and gratefully say, thanks, Mom and Dad  – you are so right, I was so wrong. I will do exactly what you say and change my life!

Not happening.

If I ever tried that, my adult kids would dismiss me as intrusive, give me the silent treatment or get angry and the carefully nurtured bonds of Parent/Adult “Kid” communication would greatly fray.

Does the “let them learn from their failures” concept apply even when our adult “kid” is poised to make a major life mistake with possibly painful consequences?

My carefully thought out answer? And honestly, I am not waffling here. But both Yes and No.

Yes:  While they are adults, we are their perennial parents, and with great delicacy and respect, we still can tell our adult kids how we feel.


No, we shouldn’t tell them what to do.

Telling them how we feel  – versus – telling them what to do = a BIG difference.

I’m not writing an advice column here (but hey, wouldn’t that be a great job to have? Kind of like my lawyer job where I gave advice to clients for many years, but their questions were far less fun. Not that my clients weren’t fun. They were. But legal issues, not so much. I digress.)

My friend with the daughter in the struggling relationship could tell her the next time she calls:

“It makes me sad when you tell me Boyfriend says such nasty things to you.”

For the son whose job may be on the line:

“I worry about your health when you talk about going out and drinking every night during the work week.”

The controlling serious Girlfriend?

“Son, it made me very uncomfortable listening to how Girlfriend talks to you during your last visit home.”

Assuming we can limit our remarks to how we feel – a major assumption that – might our parental comments prod our adult kids to think things through and start on different paths?

Or not.

As Jessica Lahey said, failure teaches a lesson. It breeds resiliency. Second chances. Growth.

Marriages don’t always work out. Young adults lose jobs. Mental health can worsen and then improve. Even when the stakes are so high, do we owe our adult “kids”, not just the littler ones, the right to make their own mistakes and learn from them?

It’s complicated.




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