• Mon, Dec 23 - 10:00 am ET

After My Kids Leave The Nest, I Will Demand To See Them More Than Just Major Holidays

nestI may be jumping the gun a bit (okay, a lot), but I’m starting to worry about what my relationship with my kids will look like once they are grown adults that leave the nest. Right now, they are two years old and six months old, but hear me out!

I think the reason I’m so concerned about having a close adult relationship with my kids is because my adult relationship with my parents was very rocky until just a few years ago. Now my mom and I are opening up and getting much closer, but unfortunately, I no longer talk to my dad.

I also looked to my husband’s family to see how adult kids function with their adult parents. His parents are very, very nice people, but family get-togethers normally only happen around some kind of major occasion. They are also scheduled far in advance through an email chain.

I don’t want to be a creepy, overbearing mother that won’t let my kids move out, but the thought of no longer having them in the house breaks my heart—and I have a good 18 years to go! Sure, I joke about how babies and toddlers suck the life out of you, but I would much rather be up with one of those crazy hooligans all night than falling asleep alone in an empty, kid-free house.

I need some hope, some light at the end of the tunnel. Are there adult kids out there that have close relationships with their parents? Is it possible to see your kids once a week, and is that normal? I just can’t imagine seeing my grown kids only on holidays and special occasions. I really, really like them, and I’m just getting to know them as people.

I know you can’t force a relationship on anyone, but I do firmly believe that parents set the tone for how close a relationship will be with their children. I plan to always extend invites to my kids as adults, no matter how many times they turn me down. I also have another great secret plan to offer lots and lots of free babysitting as a way to spend as much time with their families as possible (in a non-overbearing way).

What is the secret? What does a healthy relationship with adult kids look like? And is it possible to see your kids more often than Thanksgiving and Christmas after they move out of the house? I need to know.

(photo: Getty Images)

You can reach this post's author, Bethany Ramos, on twitter.
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  • Karen

    2 yo and 6 months? You may change your tune in 18 years…..:)

  • Mel

    I have a close relationship with my mother due to financial ties and the proximity of our homes. I mostly hate it, but I make the decision to keep it up. With the help of my therapist and the support and understanding of my wonderful sister, I’ve whittled it down to as little time as possible for my own mental health. As for my father, who thankfully lives in another state, I’ll do almost anything to avoid the obligatory holiday visit, including this year scheduling surgery on the day they are scheduled to arrive.

    I guess, the point it, yes you can have closeness and frequency, but make sure it’s for the “right” reasons. Be nice to you kids. Try not to take your shit (and we all have it b/c we’re human, even parents) out on them. Support, not control them. And I see no reason why your kids won’t want to see you every week or whatever! There are adults in my family that I love spending time with (aunts and uncles and cousins), so I know adult children can make the time if they want.

    • Bethany Ramos

      Yes, it seems like you feel my pain with an unhealthy parent, which is why I am so motivated to have a balanced relationship with my kids, like you described. I don’t want to be too hands on or hands off, but I want to know an adult relationship is possible!

    • Mel

      It absolutely is possible. I guess I just resent the feeling that we HAVE to have one. My mother is terribly mad at me for not jumping to attention every time my father decides to grace us with his presence. She’s insisting that she come over the day after my surgery and drive me to see him (like that’s gonna happen). There’s a sense of obligation that I just don’t comprehend. Yes, blood relation is important, but if you don’t genuinely respect and enjoy a parent, then what’s the point?

      You can change the pattern. You don’t have to be a toxic parent just b/c you might have had one. The simple fact that you’re aware of it enough to ask thoughtful questions and be worried about it proves that you’re not following in their footsteps! I’ve been worried that I’m a narcissist like my parents are, but according to my therapist (who is wonderful, I’ll give you her number if you want!) the awareness is proof that I’m not. I’ll say the same to you and hope it helps allay your fears some.

    • Bethany Ramos

      THANK YOU! That really does help, and it is my biggest fear to repeat negative patterns.

    • ModerateLew

      And I care?

    • Mel

      Nope, guess not. Good for you. Have a wonderful day.

    • Bethany Ramos

      I care!! You have great points.

    • Mel

      Thanks :) I guess I assumed that the point of the comments section was to share experiences and insights in an effort to connect with your fellow human. Clearly Guest believes only things that apply directly to Guest are welcome. Oh well!

    • Bethany Ramos
    • Megan Zander

      That IS the point of the comments. I basically see these articles as jumping off points for great discussions with friends that I can have without putting on real clothes or makeup. I love hearing others stories and perspectives, it’s really interesting and sometimes helpful for my own situations. Guess “guest” doesn’t come here often enough to know that’s how we roll.

    • Mel

      You’re not wearing pants or makeup either?! Glad I’m not the only one :)

    • Megan Zander

      Pants are so overrated

    • Jordana

      Wow – rude guest….

  • Kate

    I moved away to the Big City for college, grad school, and work, and then moved “home” with my (then) boyfriend (now husband) when we were ready to settle down. When we first moved back, we would see my parents every few weeks, but now that we have an infant, we see my parents at least once a week, and I think it is awesome. (My husband’s family is far away, though, and we only see them once a year.) We have always been very clear that if it ever feels like too much, we can and should back off and should not keep up the frequency of our visits just because it is expected or routine.

  • Harriet Meadow

    My family and I have always been very close. I deeply regret the fact that I do not live close to them. It especially saddens me now that I have a 7 month old who is growing and developing so quickly and my parents are missing it. At first I was determined to move back to my hometown once I’ve finished my doctorate, but now my husband has found a fantastic job out here, which is great for us, but which probably means that we won’t be moving any time soon. It breaks my heart, although I DO love our life out here and the fact that we don’t have to share our little one with anyone…

    • iamtheshoshie

      Aaaah, we’re in the same situation. I’m 8.5 months pregnant, just finished my PhD, and am looking for work. But it’s not an awesome market right now, and I’m worried that I’m not going to be able to find something close to our parents.

    • Kate

      That is tough. I have a good job now where my parents are, but the job market here is very limited and we have sacrificed to be here. My husband is having a difficult time finding a job in his field, and if I lost my job or wanted to leave I wouldn’t have many options.

  • iamtheshoshie

    We live far (2000-2500 miles) from both my parents and my parents-in-law, but I’m on the phone with my parents every 1-3 days and we have regularly scheduled Skype dates with my parents-in-law and sister-in-law. We’d definitely want to see them regularly if we lived in the same city. In fact, we’re looking to relocate to the Midwest to be closer to them, even though we love living in our current city. I also grew up in the same city as both of my sets of grandparents and remember seeing them really frequently when I was little. Like every 1-2 weeks. Not that I don’t have my disagreements with my parents or that Mr. Shoshie doesn’t have them with his, but our relationships are pretty close with them even though we only see them a couple times a year, and that makes me happy.

  • Kay_Sue

    I’ve got a fairly close relationship with both of my parents. We usually have dinner at their house or ours about once a week. I think it is one of those things that you have to let develop naturally, though. If my mom had pushed for it, I probably would have pushed back. But she let it happen, and it works for us.

    • keelhaulrose

      My grandfather really pushed my dad to see him more often, and eventually my dad pushed back. It caused a major rift, and eventually my grandfather disowned us. He passed without repairing the rift, and I was surprised at how little my dad seemed upset by that. You really have to give your kids some space, or they’ll run as soon as they can.

    • Kay_Sue

      It’s true. It’s got to develop naturally. Part of parenting is making sure that your kids can stand on their own after they leave the nest, and part of having a good relationship with adult children is understanding that they need that space.

      We live literally 3 minutes from my parent’s house. It has the potential to be a nightmare. But it doesn’t because she respects my space and boundaries. There’s no expectation that we will constantly be over, she calls before she drops by. She does abscond with my kids once a week, but I’d be a nutjob to complain about that.

    • Natasha B

      I’m pretty jealous of this! My parents live 2 hours away, and hubs live on the west coast and overseas. So we never see parents as often as we like :/ and my kiddos miss their grandparents. We do try to do wknds with mine, but they both still work full time and my youngest sister is still in HS and constantly has junk going on.

  • G.E. Phillips

    Man, I totally feel you. I hate to admit it because I feel it makes me sound so needy/irrational, but think about it all the time–what am I gonna do when Face grows up and leaves me? Especially since there’s a good chance he’s going to be my only child. I joke that his college choices are going to be limited to Yale (I live in CT) or the local community college. Except I’m not really joking.

    That being said, I do see my own parents weekly, but that only started when I had my own child.

    • Bethany Ramos

      My sis feels that way about her only child too. :( I don’t even want to think about it!!

  • pixie

    I have a very close relationship with both my parents, but the three of us (I have no siblings) are fairly independent people. I think it’s possible to have a very good, close relationship with parents as an adult and not see them on a weekly basis. Talking on the phone, skyping, or texting on a fairly regular basis helps with this.
    I lived with my parents until I was just shy of 19, when I moved nearly 1400km (900 miles) across the province (from Toronto area to Thunder Bay) to go to university. I came home for Thanksgiving, Christmas break, and summer break, but stayed up there during the February reading week. I adore spending time with my parents, but on some school holidays I would maybe see them only once or twice for an hour or so (mostly on Thanksgivings). I spent a lot of time with my boyfriend since he remained in the Toronto area while I was up north. My parents were ok with it and never upset; they raised me and supported me completely when I was growing up. They were cool with me moving across the province to university, though I am sure they are happy that I chose to go to a grad school only 4.5 hours away in Ottawa. I’m trying to come home at least once a month now, which I have done successfully so far.
    I also was allowed to stop accompanying my parents everywhere when I was about 13 or 14. If my parents were going out somewhere (to walk downtown in a nice town nearby, grocery shopping, or walk in the neighbourhood, etc), they would ask if I would like to join them and sometimes I would, but often I would stay home and do my own thing. I think it was a huge help to maintaining my positive relationship with my parents. I was treated fairly and given the option to stay by myself (which, at 13/14 was a good thing if I was in a bad mood and just wanted to be left alone). My boyfriend, on the other hand was forced to go nearly everywhere his parents went until he moved to university when he was 18, and had a much stricter curfew and rules in his house. That style of parenting is not necessarily wrong, it just was not good for the relationship between my boyfriend and his parents. His parents were also very opposed to him moving any significant distance away from home for university.
    I say watch how your kids’ personalities develop over the years. Are they going to be more independent? Are they going to be really, uh, “clingy” (for lack of a better word; I don’t mean it in the negative sense, but more the type to want familial interaction multiple times a week)? Let things develop organically, if you push to see them too much there’s a big chance that could backfire on you. Even if you don’t see them as much as you would like, chatting regularly via phone, Skype, or text is also great, especially for more independent people. :)

    (PS: I’m back from Cuba, everyone!! Anyone miss me?)

    • Bethany Ramos

      I missed you around here and am so glad to see you back!! How was it?

      Anyway, that is a great point and perspective, especially since you feel so close to your parents but don’t see them all the time. I think I just want my kids to know I WANT to see them since I often felt unwanted by my parents. I don’t want to smother them, but I’d also love more than email communication once a month. So the offer is there, and they can do their own thing, like you said.

    • pixie

      It was a ton of fun! Kind of sucked to come back to all the snow and ice, but at least there’s fast internet up here!

      I understand where you’re coming from, completely. And for a bit more family background, my mom’s father left when she was a preteen or young teenager and she didn’t see him for 30-odd years (he just disappeared). She just assumed he was dead and was surprised when he turned up again when I was 10. Mind you, his mind was gone; the chemicals from the paints he used as an artist had caused him to go completely senile (I forget the actual name of the disease). She was close(-ish) to her mother, but her mother wasn’t always in the best of health. I doubt you’ll smother your kids and I’m sure they’ll do more than just email you once a month. ;)

      And here’s a picture of me riding a bull, just because I find it hilarious.

    • Bethany Ramos

      OMG you are so cute!! Now I’m way jealous of your vacation. :) and thanks so much for the encouragement, it really helps.

  • beth

    Yes it is possible. I am close to my parents and see them at least once a week, sometimes more. Even if it is only a quick visit. While both if my sisters live farther away they also see them and us at least once a month. Also my mil watches my kids every Thursday for me and we all have dinner that night, so my husband sees his that often too. I agree that it has too happen naturally though. If my mil was too involved daily my husband would pull back. My sister in law lives across the country and she never sees them but her and her mom talk daily so closeness isn’t about distance.

  • Alex

    Nope, sorry. We currently live 2k miles away from our parents/in-laws, and see them maybe a few times a year (more than once, but less than 5). Obviously, we couldn’t see both of them for all the major holidays even if we wanted to, since my parents and hers live in different states. Best case scenario, we would still have to choose which holiday to skip with which family.

    Neither of us are all that close with our parents. Even my brother, who moved back to the same area as my parents (15-20 minutes away) three years ago only sees them about once a month. The best scenario is probably her sister, who lives a few hours away from her parents but her mom tends to visit about every other week to looking after their three-year old.

    I suppose it might be possible to see my parents (or for her to see hers) if either of us lived close by them. But we don’t, haven’t lived within 500+ miles of either of them since we were 18, and probably won’t ever do so. Even if that were the case, we probably wouldn’t see them much more often than every few weeks for a day or so. Besides, my parents are both retired and her parents are soon-to-be-retired, so they can spend the time to come see us whenever they want without having to worry about PTO and work schedules.

  • jane

    It’s totally possible. I am very close with my mom and we see her probably about once per week. We live only about 15 minutes away. When my sister got married (and had a baby) she moved about 3 miles away from us. She doesn’t see my parents quite as frequently, but now that she has a little one, it’s more often. My husband isn’t as close with his mom, but we live close to her too and see her once every couple months, and around pretty much every major holiday.

    How to do it? I don’t have any magic advice. Don’t be an asshole to your kids. Let them know you like having them around. Be fun to be with. Basically treat your children like anyone else you’d want to have hang around, and I bet they’ll hang around.

  • Paul White

    My folks and I are close but we see each other maybe 5-8 times a year, when one or the other of us has PTO available. It’s how it works. Emails and phone calls are your friend I guess….

    We see my in laws a lot more because they’re just 40 miles away, but my folks live down in Houston and I’m up near Amarillo–about 650 miles each way.

  • Jane Boolittle

    It depends on what your kids do after they grow up. I joined the military, was medically discharged after several years and turned around and married a military member. So I don’t even see my (or his) folks even once a year. Too expensive and the military schedule prevents a lot of holiday visits. But I don’t get along too well with my parents, as my mother tried to fix all her mistakes through me and nothing I ever did was good enough for her, so the less than once a year visits make her behave and not lecture me on how I “messed up my life” until a day or 2 before we are scheduled to leave.

  • woot

    I think once a week is pushing it. When your kids are grown they will likely have their own priorities…work, a spouse/partner, kids, chores, appointments, wanting to spend time with friends, hobbies, etc. As an adult my weeknights are shot, so I get 2 days a week for all of my social and non-work needs. If my parents asked to see me once a week that would get me down to 1 day a week. Plus, what if your kids decide to move far away? I don’t even mean across the country, but maybe just accross the state where they’d have to drive a few hours to see you. I think once a month would be far more reasonable of an expectation to have. And I’m someone who has a good relationship with my parents…I’m just busy.

    • guest123

      I’m 27 and I felt this way a couple of years ago, but as time goes on and my parents get older I enjoy dedicating my free time at least once a week to them, I don’t know how long they have left, and the older they get they get the funnier they become. Also – my partner/friends/ etc. have more energy, I can always see them after a visit with my parents! Maybe my mentality is due to the fact that I come from an Eastern European background, but all of my peers regardless of background see their parents much more often than once a month. And – I didn’t even have that great of a relationship with them in my younger years.

    • AP

      I’m 29, and I lived 250 miles away from my family for 5 years, and now I live 3,000. I’d literally go broke if I saw them weekly.

    • guest123

      This is so understandable – I did not mean to come off as an ass, of course long distances or any are more costly and I suppose in my case I should have clarified we all live in the same city. When I was away from school this was not a possibility for me either, my friends were my surrogate family :)

  • Leafyleafster

    It’s totally possible. My siblings and I are always dropping by my parents’ house (and each other’s houses) because we all just like each other. Funny enough, I’ve seen a lot of other posters say they saw their parents more after their kids were born; in my family it’s actually a little less, just because it’s such a pain to pack up the baby (in my case) or twin toddlers and a baby (my sister’s case) and it’s throws off the kids’ schedules. My brother is always dropping by with his eight-year-old though.

    I guess though, I have to add that we all live in the same city, so there’s no real distances or anything to deal with.

  • Little girl lost

    After my parents broke up about 6 years ago, I took to visiting my dad once a week. I barely saw my mom except when I was in charge of her medical care. My dad and I had lengthy conversations about my childhood and he illuminated many things for. My parents broke up when I was a child and they got back together again a few years later. It was in that time that they were apart, my mom struggled to care for herself, let alone two small children. Because of her personality, she would not ask for help which meant that for much of the time, I took care of myself and my brother. But my dad finally clued into what was happening, came back and got my mom some help. Things got better for a while, until I was a teenager. I would have constant rows with my mom. I was a very sensitive, introspective child and I couldn’t understand why my mom seemed to act so thoughtlessly. Needless to say my relationship with my mom was on the rocks when my parents broke up the most recent time. After I saw what she put my dad through the last 3 years before they broke up, I resolved myself to never trust her again.
    Fast forward to now, my parents are back together. They seem happy. There are ground rules this time so I don’t think they will break up again. My mom has finally been diagnosed and is on medication which makes her a “real person” again, instead of just a cardboard cutout. I still spend one day at week at their house for dinner. I talk to my dad every day on my drive home from work. I am slowly starting to trust my mom again. I even tell her that I love her back and mean it. Sometimes, I can tell that she wants to make biting comments like she used to, but I know that she is trying not to, and that makes me happy. The worst thing for a teenaged girl is for her to know that her mom hates her.

    • Bethany Ramos

      Thank you so much for sharing your story. :)

  • keelhaulrose

    I live with my parents, so I have no choice but see them every day. But we visit my grandma at least once a week, often twice or more.
    When my husband and I got married we choose to live in a city equidistant from each of our families, but when finances forced us to take one set of parents generosity (live with my parents or a trailer on his mom’s property) we picked what was best for our family (much better school district). Finances prevent us from visiting his family more than one or twice a year.
    When we visited his father 1750 miles away (not involved any way with his mother, she’s remarried) for the last time in October we hadn’t seen him for seven years. That was a personal choice on my husband’s part, there was some apathy there.
    There’s a lot of factors on why someone wouldn’t visit their parents. Just help your kids grow and support them, but sometimes you have to let them fly away.

  • clarissa

    My husband and I have a very close relationship with his parents and a stressed one with mine. I see my mom about 6 times a year, we see his every few weeks and his live further away (about 1 1/2 hours where as my mom lives about 40 minutes). Id say the biggest factor is how you treat them. Seeing my parents brings back bad memories and causes me to regress into a bad place that i dont want to be. his parents also are there for us and dont try to make everything about them. they dont guilt us or forceus, they just extend invites, not even to dinner, but if we wanna go see the hobbit, or have a bonfire with them and friends.

  • Afton

    My husband and I try and see both of our parents about once a month plus Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, and other holidays. However my sister-in-law is currently on break (she’s in college) and is staying at our apartment for her entire break and only going to see her parents Christmas Day, but I think once she graduates from college and lives on her own for awhile she’ll appreciate time with her parents a lot more.

  • Caterpie

    I think it totally depends on your relationship as your kids grow up. They’re awfully young now to be able to predict how it’s going to go as they grow up and move on. I have friends who faithfully call their moms every day (even the ones who live at home still!) to chat. My mother would gladly trade me in for any one of them. I’m here at holidays and would rather not be. My mom and I have never really gotten along, nor me and my sister. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that we don’t like being around each other now, we never have, and yet my mom still seems perplexed. Treat your kids well, and make yourself the kind of person they would want to be around, and I’d say you would have much better odds.

  • Anon

    Be respectful and loving and shy away from ridiculous behavior. They will naturally want to be around you more.

    I wish a few of my family members read mommyish.

  • rrlo

    We see our in-laws once a week for dinner. And we see my parents 2-3 times a week (they live really close by). All of it is by choice. All of it is enjoyable. We also vacation with my in-laws every other year for 1-2 weeks too. TOTALLY possible.

    • Bethany Ramos

      Okay, this makes me really happy. I just don’t see it that often in adults I know – a glimmer of hope!!

  • ninjalulu

    I live 30 mins from my job, which is 15 mins from my dad and 30 mins from my mom. I still see them not as often as i would like, but i talk to my parents almost every single day. At least 3-4 times a week. They are going to be sharing baby-sitting duties for my daughter, who is due in 6 days. 4-6 years ago? i wasnt speaking to either of them. And while some of that was because i needed to find my own way for awhile, and some was because we all had some major baggage/toxicity to work through, a lot was because i was too young (early 20′s) to realize that what i needed was to redefine my relationships. I am still their child, but now my mom and i are best friends, who swear and drink and play card games like Cards against Humanity together. My dad will get drunk with me during St. Patrick’s day, and talk to me like an adult. We compare new beers and he gave me a cigar to smoke with him when little brothers were both deployed the same month. He walks me through home projects, rather than doing it himself, and has taken it upon himself to bring my husband into a father-son type relationship through phone calls and emails and texts. He bought him how to be a dad type books, and routinely asks questions about his/our life.
    My really long winded point here, is that eventually you need to not look at your relationship with your kids as just that: with your kids. You will need to see it as being friends with a really good backstory, and recognize that role changes are supposed to happen. That is how you keep the rest of your friends and family in your life, right?

    • Bethany Ramos

      I love this.

  • AnastasiaMcNally

    I left the nest early January to have my own baby, and have seen my mama every day-obviously except when either of us went on holidays-since. I wouldn’t have it any other way! It can happen :)

  • skittles4s

    I have a very close relationship with both of my parents, however I also married someone in the military. There are some years I don’t see my family at all. I haven’t seen my older brother in two years. It is give and take with both me and my family making effort to ensure that we still see each other. We don’t focus too much on “holidays”, but as you grow up it can be difficult to see your parents all the time, especially if you have thousands of miles inbetween you.

  • AP

    I think the best thing you could do is be open to visits (being willing to travel to visit them, but keeping an open door so they feel they can come whenever) but not demanding it. I’ve lived a hassle of a trip from my family since I was 22, and it’s not that I don’t want to see them more, it’s that I can’t swing the time off work and the pricey travel, and I’d be very upset if they didn’t understand that and demanded my presence anyway.

    My mother-in-law sometimes does that to my husband, and it ends up being very upsetting to him because she comes across as not caring or understanding about the time and expense involved in travel, or his busy work schedule. He wants to see and visit her, but being ordered to do so when it’s not convenient ruins the whole tone of the trip.

  • guest

    My parents’ home will always be my home too – I never grasped the concept of having to schedule and plan months ahead to see one another (exception if you live far distances). My mom would be thrilled if I showed up every day and at any time. I still call her every single day after work even if I am going over. It wasn’t always like this but the older I get the older they get. And no plan or anything is more important than if my sister or I need anything. They spoiled us and made us the center of their lives, but they also were stern and disciplined when necessary. We don’t invade in their lives and ask them to drop anything for us we just know they would need be, they manage to live busy and active lives, and so do we, but ensure that we are a part of one another’s always. We don’t even have children, we’re in our mid-twenties and it’s all by choice. My friends/ partner etc. are all the same way too.

  • meepmeep

    after moving out of my parents house I moved from NY to Europe so I’ll only see them once a year at most. It will probably be more like every other, since it’s quite far.
    My husband however, has a very close relationship with his parents. We live about 10 minuets away by car and see them at least once a week. This is really typical for the culture here though. College students and even adult “children” will go visit their parents on the weekends. My husbands sisters did something unusual by moving far away to other countries, but they still manage to see their parents at least twice a year and skype and send e-mail all the time.

  • thefluter

    I think it varies a lot, even within families. I’m one of five, and even among my siblings we see our parents differently. I Skype with my Mom every week (I live halfway across the country from my parents), and go back home once a year. My parents try to visit me once every two years. My brother who lives in town with them sees them about once a week, but that only really happened when he had a kid. My older sister sees my parents pretty frequently, at least once a week, and again in part because of her kids.

    My younger sister only lives an hour away, but really doesn’t see my parents except on holidays, birthdays, etc. I know it makes my mom sad, but as someone else mentioned, as a parent you have to readjust your relationship to your adult children, and my Mom has had a hard time doing that — I don’t feel like I can tell her things because she worries, or offers unsolicited advice, or tells other people when I meant it to be between us. So, even though we have a good relationship, it’s not as close as my good friend with her mom — she talks to her mom every day, multiple times a day!

  • Janok Place

    I think the secret, is being Italian (just kidding!… Kind of). My ex’s family was Italian and dinner was every Sunday. My husband’s aunt is Italian and the closest relative (25 minutes) and she is always infuriated with the infrequent visits. I had a tough child hood but I’m close with my parents. I haven’t spent a Christmas with my mom in a decade, but that’s okay with both of us. We live 5 hours away and I make a point of 3-5 trips in a year as does she. I see my dad on major holidays, and otherwise about once a month. My husband’s family is always complaining we never see them enough, even when we visit. This pushes us away, and makes us avoid visiting to avoid the lecture/ignore the phone etc. I think the expectation to see kids weekly religiously pushes them away, or frustrates significant others. When you consider a lot of families are split you’re looking at 4 sets of parentals (as is the case with DH and I). If you make yourself easy to spend time with, your children will be more likely to spend the time!

    • Janok Place

      Ah I was unfair to my MIL, we see her pretty often. I’d say once every couple weeks. Keep in mind we live in farming country so its a bit of a trek.

    • Bethany Ramos

      Great point – I wouldn’t want to force it at all. But… Sunday dinners sound pretty awesome. :)

    • Janok Place

      Actually, it kind of sucked. Weird part is I liked them all. The mom even catered to me once she figured out my favorite dishes. We are both very like minded and she is an incredibly kind hearted lady. We had some fun hiding in the bathroom to sneak a cigarrette on occasion because we were bad ass like that. Something about having each and every Sunday evening for eternity monopolized made me uncomfortable. Even when we had different plans we couldn’t enjoy ourselves, we felt guilty. I don’t know if them living across the street played a part in that or not…. Then there were the days where she obviously wasn’t up to it (We spent a large portion of those evenings hiding in the bathroom)

      That said, I’d love it if my kids voluntarily came every week.

  • http://twitter.com/mariaguido Maria Guido

    Since we moved to Florida, my mom expects to see the kids at least 4-5 times a week – and she lays on the guilt for the 2-3 days she doesn’t see them. It’s kind of driving me crazy. I think once a week sounds perfect and totally doable.

  • Priscilla

    I have some good news and some bad news for you — I have a very close relationship with my parents as a 26 year old adult married woman and miss them when they’re not around. I joke with my husband that I would be perfectly happy moving back in with them as an adult if he wanted to live with them too. This is what I’ve found to be the secret to close-knit adult relationships with parents’ children: you have to build a close foundation during their childhood. I have fond memories of my daddy being at every dance recital making props backstage, my mom taking my sister and myself on girls weekend trips, family bonding time with all four of us, my parents being there for us rain or shine and loving us with all their might. These memories build a close relationship that will withstand time as your children get married, have their own children, move out of the near, etc. My husband on the other hand has a completely different life story. His parents divorced at a young age, he never had a close relationship with his overbearing and needy mother, never had a close relationship with his dad who was and still is an alcoholic. When they remarried they focused more on their new families and themselves more than their original children. I have found that this is the reason why he doesn’t speak with them very much and doesn’t really care to be around them. I think it really matters if your family has game nights, movie nights, family vacations, and if your parents are their for you for every soccer game, every dance competition, every Sunday for mass, every night when you go to bed to wish you sweet dreams, etc. while he has painful childhood memories I have very fond ones and it’s the fond memories that keep me bonded to my parents. I see them about once a week if not more… I’d see them more often if they lived closer. My advice is to make them feel special, loved, wanted, and adored. And they’ll never go anywhere or exclude you from their adult loves. God bless!

    • Bethany Ramos

      I really appreciate the detail in your reply and the picture you painted of your childhood. Thanks so much for the insight!

  • JussyLee

    I grew up an only child. My mom and stepdad never shared with me their strong desire for more kids or their years-long fertility struggle. When they finally decided to try IVF, they finally sat me down and told me they were starting the process, and then three months later my mom was pregnant. I was a sophomore in college, and I felt completely blindsided! And once the twins were born, my parents did a really crappy job facilitating a new role for me in our changed family. I felt so alienated that I actually ended up dropping out of school to move out on my own ASAP. My sisters will be 7 this year. I only spend time with my parents and little sisters for holidays and birthdays, and I live 10 minutes away from them. As older parents, my mom and stepdad have resources now that they didn’t have when they raised me, and the life the four of them share seems
    idyllic and completely inaccessible to me.

    My advice is not to hold off on dreams you have for yourself as an individual in order to invest more in your children while they’re young. Include your kids in (or at least make them aware of) your pursuit of your own interests. Establishing autonomy as a positive aspect of your family culture before your kids are fully independent will help you create a lifestyle you can maintain for the long term as an empty nester. And then your kids will feel more comfortable “coming home” to you because “home,” and their role in it, will be familiar.

    • Bethany Ramos

      This is such great advice. And I can only imagine your pain in your family story – I also have a stepdad, and there is still some bitterness because my parents fawn over my little brother since they more so raised him together.

    • JussyLee

      My stepdad has been in my life since I was 6 and was a very involved parent from the beginning, so he didn’t miss much of my life. My parents and I were very close and had great experiences together. Yet I do understand the bitterness. I’m a “wedlock child,” and my mom carried the trauma from her relationship with my biological dad and her subsequent single parenthood into her relationship with my stepdad. The conflict that ensued affected us all in many negative ways over the years. I was always treated with great love, but I’ve still always felt guilty for being born. My parents’ going to such great lengths to have my sisters reinforces my insecurity about my worth as their daughter.

      Again, it really all comes down to effectively communicating with your children about your personal life as an adult.

  • dontgonuts

    Don’t cling so much that it causes problems with their spouses either. I’m close to my siblings and would love to see them more, but we respect each others lives (my parents have waaaay deeper issues than neurotic clingyness and I’m no longer in contact with them. One is abusive, the other is a hoarder.) My husband comes from a family of mamas boys though and are crazy clingy. She tried to dictate who my husband was dating at 21, and still interferes in his single brothers (including a 30 year old! ) relationships and lives. She is CRAZY! She expects regular picture updates of our kids to be texted to her, even though I’m a bit of an annoying over poster of kids pic on Facebook because she suddenly stopped using Facebook. She basically expected to raise our children and is mad that she isn’t, so she favors the grandchildren who she is being allowed to raise/ control because sil won’t stand up to my in laws or bil.

  • Meg

    Even though I live a 6+ hour car ride from my parents, I still talk to my mom at least once a week on the phone. My middle brother moved out of the family home but he still has dinner at their house/with them at least once a week. Several of my aunts and uncles get together with my family for church every week, then dinner afterwards. Mom does breakfast with her sisters every Saturday morning. If I lived in my home state still, I’d be doing all these things too. I think it just depends on the family. If we lived in home state my husband probably wouldn’t be spending as much time with his family as I would with mine, but it’s because they have a different dynamic. They’re still close, but just not as close as I am to my family.

  • Jordana

    I worry about this for sure! I think recognizing the difference in the baby boomers vs the millennials is helpful. I don’t have a lot of scientific evidence of this, but I feel like millenials are a little more selfless with their parenting than the baby boomers many of us were raised by and there have been a lot of positive changes like not spanking, trying not to label kids, etc. It has been studied that millenials on average spend many more hours a week with their children and have a better understanding of work life balance than baby boomers did. Hopefully this has positive outcomes for our someday adult kiddos! Great article :-)

    • Bethany Ramos

      Thank you, and that’s an awesome point – I’ve been thinking about the boomer/millennial difference a lot. I hope we are creating positive change. :)

  • Aldonza

    My parents (particularly my Mom and I) are extremely close despite my living on the other side of the country (and for awhile, in an entirely separate one) from them. The older my brother and I got, the more they treated us as adults and relaxed the reigns a little. Never feeling smothered or harassed by them helped both of us want to stay in touch and call and visit when we could. Now that I live a lot closer I try and see them at least once a week, sometimes more, not just out of obligation, but because I genuinely like hanging out with them. They’re cool folks.

  • tSubh Dearg

    Maybe it’s because we live in Ireland, which is a pretty small country anyway, or maybe it’s because I’m some kind of weirdo with weirdo friends but most of us have pretty close relationships with our parents and would see them very regularly. In fact, I live next door to mine, which is working out pretty great.

    But for those of my friends who have not emigrated, on the whole they would see their parents generally once a fortnight and those who have emigrated are pretty good about getting home as often as feasible, especially around Christmas or other special occasions.

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