Dear Abby: “My Kids Never Call or Visit Me” – Your Adult Children Do Not Owe You Friendship and Won’t Visit You When You Are Elderly: Readjust Your Expectations, Parents
If you’re a childfree person, you know you’ve heard pro-parenthood people, usually parents themselves, ask a million times, “But who is going to take care of you when you get older?”
From what I’ve heard of people who work in nursing homes, the adult children of elderly people in nursing homes seldom to never go to visit them.
When I used to periodically visit my grandmother in a nursing home, as myself and other family would be sitting in the lobby waiting for a nurse to wheel my grandmother out to visit, other seniors would wheel up to myself or one of my aunts and start to cry.
These seniors would cry (I mean literally cry, with tears running down their faces), and they’d say, “I don’t like it here, I want to go home.”
The vibe is that these elderly people hated being in the nursing home (which is understandable; I felt so bad for these people), but they were apparently not getting many visits (if any at all) from their family members.
When one of my Aunts got into her 80s (by that time, her spouse had been dead for around ten or more years), she was living alone, her memory was going – she eventually had to move in with one of her adult sons.
But prior to that, for years and years, that Aunt was on her own. She’d phone my Dad (her brother in law) any time she needed help.
My Dad ended up doing things like driving that particular Aunt of mine to the hospital at 2:00 in the morning when she fell and broke a rib. She called him and asked him for help with that.
My Dad went to her home on another occasion to fix a leaking toilet. My Dad also mowed her lawn for her a few times.
My Aunt’s own own adult son, who lived much closer to her than my father did, was not stepping up to the plate. He only came into the picture when there was no other choice.
His Mom (my Aunt) eventually got fairly bad dementia, or whatever problem (her recall became terrible) – she also became more and more physically frail, and it became glaringly obvious she could no longer live alone.
Only then did the adult son step up and let her live in his house, something he should’ve done years prior.
Before that, my Dad, who was up there in age himself, was driving to her house, which was like a 40 minute commute each way, to run errands for her, drive her to doctor’s appointments, etc, whenever she’d phone for help.
In reading up on books and web pages on abuse and codependency, I kept seeing one boundary violation by parents who have this bogus expectation that their adult children owe them friendship – to keep them occupied when they’re lonely.
This is doubly true if the parent in question is widowed (the other spouse died), or if they’re in a lonely, loveless marriage.
These types of parents (usually the mother) actually expects that their adult children (usually a daughter) to wait on them hand and foot, eat lunch with them daily, to phone them daily to chit chat – to be their buddy, their confidant and their pal to keep loneliness at bay.
And that is not a fair or reasonable expectation for a parent to have. Psychologists write about this in their books, it’s not merely me informing you of this.
I also read an entire book about emotional incest by a psychologist, and, according to this book, a lot of parents actually begin looking to a young child of theirs to meet their emotional needs and their need for companionship and/or identity or purpose when their kid is a baby, toddler, pre-teen, or teen!
This sort of thing does not always start in the kid’s adulthood, in other words. For some kids, it begins when they’re a baby or small child.
If the parent leans on the child in that manner, according to the psychologist who treats the now-adult patients who were leaned on by a parent when they were a kid, it will create all sorts of problems for the child when he or she grows up.
If you’re a parent, you need to realize that it’s not your child’s responsibility or duty to provide you with companionship, regardless of your child’s age.
If you are lonely or bored, you need to get out of the house and make friends with people YOUR OWN AGE.
You should never, ever rely on a child of yours (whatever their age) to meet your need for friendship, nor should you share personal details with them, like divorce stress, or whatever.
Your child is not your mini-therapist at any age. Talk to an adult friend about your adult problems. Making friends as an adult is not easy, but you will be messing up your kid if you start sharing “adult” details and problems with them, especially if they are young.
Anyway, having children is NOT a guarantee that the children will regularly stay in touch with you as you age.
(Link): Dear Abby: My Kids Never Call or Visit Me
by Dear Abby
January 29, 2023
I am an active widower with five grown children. Although three of them live in the same city and two live in a city nearby, I haven’t heard from or seen them as often over the past few years as I would like.
I realized recently that I miss their company and I’d like them to call or see me more often.
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