How Time With Your Parents Can Make You a Better Adult

clock at Grand Central Terminal

 

Editor’s Note: This originally published on Medium, addressing Millennials.  Feel free to pass it along…

Hey twenty-somethings, now it’s your turn.

It doesn’t have to be travel, but it could be.

Remember “take your child to work” day when you were a kid?

Some employers made it a big deal, providing a plethora of snacks and diversionary activities so you could mingle with other employee’s children. After all, the worker bees still had to work.

If super lucky, you played with an ancient computer, ravaged through the desk, went to lunch.

Beyond the excitement of a ‘free’ day from school, you got a glimpse of the mysterious adult world of work.

And now you’re in that adult world with the laid bare: the need for an income.

It turns out the work part is but a piece of the adulthood puzzle.

Here’s another piece:

Take on the adult role of the host: invite your parent/s to join you. Maybe for just an afternoon, maybe for an overnight, perhaps for just a day trip.

WHAAAT?

Before the anticipated WTF moment hijacks your amygdala and you close down this post in disgust, or before your partner/spouse says, “over my dead body,” hear me out.

It’s the actual marker of having passed beyond adolescence.

If you can’t make it through a holiday dinner with your parents, a longer duration is not in the cards. You can stop reading now.

But for the rest of you, this is an opportunity to cultivate a more vibrant relationship. You’ll be the winner.

Sure they drive you nuts.

You drive them nuts.

But here’s what’s in it for you

Experience your parents as people.

Your parent/s may not be the uptight jerk/s you think they are.

They may be entirely different people over drinks than over the Thanksgiving table with the insufferable Aunt Susie.

Your invitation to spend time together may reveal some unrealized truths.

Isn’t it time to find out?

Give your parents the opportunity to witness your maturity.

You’re probably not the narcissistic jerk your parents think you are — or thought you were.

A near-universal dictate is that parents become smarter after their children turn 25. The reverse holds true: adult children become less annoying, and more interesting after they turn 25.

In truth, age 25 is considered a significant milestone. It’s not just an adage; behavioral science tells us that by the mid-20’s a person’s mindset becomes more long-range and less self-centered. Thanks, hormones.

Consider the value of building social skills.

Your parents taught you your primary language, how to ride a bike. Now you can use interaction with them as a tutorial honing advanced social navigation skills.

It will serve you very well in any number of your own personal or professional interactions.

What do I mean by this? Mull over these scenarios:

The Difficult Conversation. It’s often political. How do you disarm without offense? If you can do it with your father or father-in-law, you can do it with a client.

Too Much Booze.This is different from your pal over-indulging. Perfect the social pirouette of ‘getting mom to bed’ after that one-too-many daiquiris. Swap out “mom” for the tipsy sales prospect. See the connection?

Disaster Museum Visit. Not every plan is going to hit the mark. Vagaries abound. It can rain, it can be too hot, too cold, too far to walk.

But again, to use the work analogy: what happens when your PowerPoint presentation goes awry? Or when the wrong facts embedded in the “killer” summary prepared for your boss’s boss are your responsibility?

You pivot, you scramble, you concoct Plan B on the fly. It’s no different here.

Consider it a low-risk training exercise for life.

Parents want a touchstone to your adult lives and not be left behind.

Parents of adult children (and I am one, so I speak with authority) value nothing more than the gift of your time.

If you can treat, great; pride will burst their buttons, and it’s arguably the fast track to heaven.

But this isn’t about your credit line; it’s about your calendar. The true gift is your time. Parent/s know that.

Make it an afternoon, an overnight. A long weekend. Plan as a surprise or dive into the planning process together.

Agree on some ground rules from the git-go.

  • This event is not a make-over. Of your life or theirs.
  • This is not an intervention. There is another time and place for that.
  • You are not inviting them to opine on your life choices, nor will you opine on theirs
  • If your politics are at polarity, then put that topic in the no-fly zone.
  • If there is disapproval of either’s partner, lifestyle, or choices, well, likewise.

You know what will work. You know the buttons that can get pushed. Get agreement on not pushing them, or having them pushed — by anyone.

You’re a grown-up. You have more power, more leverage than you think. You can set the guidelines. It’s your party.

Let’s get specific.

You might be booking away WITHOUT finishing this article. If so, you’re welcome.

Otherwise here are some tips and tricks:

  • Make it pretty local as transportation can escalate the costs.
  • Is it realistic to tie in a sibling? Possibly tie in a sibling?
  • Play to parent interests:

– A favorite sport? A favorite team?

– Culture/museums/city day or weekend

– Country day or weekend

– Spa/Yoga/hair

– Cooking weekend

  • Play to joint interests

– Active stuff like hiking, biking, golf, sailing

You know your family’s interests better than I do.

A final word.

Do it. Do it now.

It gets more complicated with time.

It’s you who has the time constraint.

It’s you who has the distractions (or will) of family, spouse/significant other, job obligations. Working like crazy. Building that start-up — or the next start- up. Or the one after that.

It’s you whose life is the expanding universe with options, choices, obligations, decisions, and demands that are concurrent with the most productive years of your life.

Before things get too crazy, plan the time. You won’t regret it.

Who knows? This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship. One that has been decades in the making.

Let me know how it goes.

Copyright 2018  Jane Trombley

This article first appeared in Medium.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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