Sunday, April 22, 2007

Walking on Eggshells

Navigating the Delicate Relationship Between Adult Children and Parents

If you are parenting an infant, a child, or a teen, you can unearth a plethora of books advising you on every conceivable aspect of the job. But once the little darling turns 18, you are on your own. And when you are like me, and have five adult children, each with his/her own complicating factors, you see yourself in the midst of a delicate minefield with no map in sight. Thus the title Walking on Eggshells, and Jane Isay, the author, makes a mighty effort to roadmap the challenges of dealing with your progeny who have achieved their majority.

The main points that I remember are that you have to treat your children like the adults that they are, and that if you have issues that divide you, and you make an effort to repair the damage, the kids tend to be amazingly ready to let bygones be bygones. The unspoken assumption here is that the parents are also in a forgiving mood, probably because the book is written for those parents who wish to have good relationships with their adult children.

Other specific topics, such as giving advice (don't), money, in-laws, grandchildren, and holidays are touched on. There are no bullets and no to-do lists. I don't know if this is because the author is touchy-feely by inclination, or because adult family relationships are too precious and tenuous to attempt to apply one-size-fits-all solutions.

In any case, I enjoyed the book, and may reread it someday when the family constellation has rearranged itself and I need a refresher course. If relationships with your adult children are deteriorating, you could do worse than read this, and see if you can find yourself and/or your child in its pages.


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