Social Question

JLeslie's avatar

If you can only take your parents in small doses, will you be surprised when your children can only take you in small doses?

Asked by JLeslie (54594points) March 14th, 2011

jca recently asked a question about whether people get along with their parents. Of course people run the gamit of not talking to their parents to being very close with their parents, with various levels of tolerance inbetween.

This made me wonder a couple of things:

Do most people think it is normal to have parents that can be frustrating or annoying? Or, do you think most people get along with their parents very well?

And, back to the original quesion at the top, if you find your own parents annoying, are you surprised your kids find you annoying, did you expect it to be very different for you as a parent?

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22 Answers

AmWiser's avatar

I actually have a feeling my children will take care of me as they have witnessed me taking care of my parents. Our family is close and I wouldn’t expect anything different.

bolwerk's avatar

I actually get along with my parents pretty well, but there comes a point where they really shouldn’t be a huge part of your life anymore. It’s not a question of so much having annoying parents, but you do need to live your own life without them. If they don’t die, that might mean there’s a very good reason to move to a different place far away so you won’t see much of them. Given how most parents seem to be (most seem way worse than mine), they almost do their kids a favor if they have kids on the later side, so they’ll die sooner.

Unfortunately, older people nowadays are living so long after “retirement” that many people have ~30 years of eldercare to look forward to. And given that boomers and up don’t want to work after 65, and have a huge sense of entitlement, it’s not just the kids who are going to suffer paying for their extravagance. (This is, of course, after their political choices caused them to largely dismantle social safety nets and public transport infrastructure they’re desperately going to need.)

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

It’s a possibility I am willing to accept. I know everyone says this but I really do do things differently than my parents. I hope that helps.

janbb's avatar

My kids know that I find my mother a trial. I have worked at not doing the annoying things she had done, but I do catch myself at times being like her. They generally seem to love and be close to me, but I’m sure as I age, I will get more dependent and very likely, more annoying, I do think I work much harder than she did at being self-aware and accommodating to their needs.

bolwerk's avatar

@janbb: You can age without being a busybody.

JilltheTooth's avatar

Kids, once grown up are supposed to spend less time with you. That said, there’s a difference between parents who drive their kids away, and parents who respect that their children have grown up and are independent people.

bolwerk's avatar

@janbb: then what are you worried about? Nobody is perfect obviously, but it takes a pretty overwhelming degree of obnoxiousness to really drive people off usually.

perspicacious's avatar

No. I’m a cool mom and nonnie.

incendiary_dan's avatar

I completely cannot understand the idea that you have to move away from your parents to have your “own life”. No wonder this society is so sick. I’m happy I live 15 minutes away from my parents.

JilltheTooth's avatar

I’m happy KatawaGrey lives 20 minutes from me. For now, anyway.

tranquilsea's avatar

We would have taken my mother in in a heartbeat. We would never take my husband’s mother in as she takes control freak to nth level. She can’t help but criticize everything you do, she’s elitist and a snob. She driven away all of her sons and most of her extended family.

I believe you have a choice in how you deal with people. No one is predestined to be cruel or a busy body. For what ever reason they choose that behaviour.

I hope that I could work something out with my kids when I become so infirm I can’t live on my own because I would kill myself before I’d go into an old folk’s home. I spent a few years volunteering in one and it wasn’t pretty.

wundayatta's avatar

I don’t get along that well with my parents. But I plan to take care of them when they need it.

It is telling that all their children moved at least a hundred miles away. One of us is all the way around the world from them. They weren’t all that bad, except they never showed much affection and never mentioned loving us. Well, me at least. I can’ speak for my siblings. I was the big failure, as far as they are concerned, so fuck ‘em.

We are trying to raise our kids in a very loving way, and they seem to be much closer to us than I remember being with my parents. I don’t believe they will take off to get away from us. We’ll see. I think it is possible to break the chain. We are not doomed to follow our parents in every way.

BarnacleBill's avatar

I’ve tried to raise them to not need me. That being said, I try at all costs to be supportive of whatever they are trying to do, and to be helpful when I can. Mostly that comes in the form of “that was a good decision” and “I’m proud of you because you work hard at making good choices.” I think either one of them will take me in if I need it because I work hard at being respectful of the fact that they are adults.

lonelydragon's avatar

I don’t know if most people find their parents frustrating, but some friction is bound to occur, as many parents have different ideas for their children’s lives than the children themselves do. Parents run the gamit of accepting their children’s differences all the way to trying to micromanage their children’s lives well into adulthood.

As for myself, I have no children, and don’t plan on having any, but if I did, I’d like to think I learned enough from my own upbringing to raise the kids in such a way that they would voluntarily spend time with me. I wouldn’t expect them to being visiting all the time, as they would hopefully have their own lives, and so would I.

@incendiary_dan If that works for you, then that’s great, but just as it wouldn’t be ideal for you to live far from your family, living near family doesn’t work for some people. Maybe the parents and children don’t get along due to irreconcilable personality differences, or the parents try to dictate their children’s lives long after the point at which such control is appropriate. Some people need to move away from their parents to live a peaceful life.

incendiary_dan's avatar

@lonelydragon Whether they’re getting along or not wasn’t my point. In fact it’s entirely irrelevent. It’s the assumption that moving away is the normal thing, which is basically culturally enforced fragmentation of communities, that I take issue with. This happens in a lot of other ways, too.

Nially_Bob's avatar

My parents and I get along well but we’ve never been particularly close. If we weren’t family I think we’d have a relationship more akin to that friend you get on fine with at work/school but rarely invite to a social gathering.

I’d love nothing more than to be close to my children and an overall great Father, but I would find it extremely strange if we turned out to be an overly loving family like you witness in TV breakfast commercials, because in my eyes that would not be a “real” family. If you genuinely care about someone there’s always going to be a degree of conflict. A friend is someone who congratulates you on a smart move; a close friend is someone who smacks you over the back of the head for a moronic one.

@incendiary_dan – “I completely cannot understand the idea that you have to move away from your parents to have your “own life”. No wonder this society is so sick.”
I concur that a person needn’t move away from their parents to become independent but how does this cause harm to society?

JLeslie's avatar

About moving away or staying close to family. It seems to me there is a delicate balance to getting this right. Moving away helps our psychological process of becoming independent in my opinion. It also helps expose us to different opportunities, ways of life, ways of thinking. Being away from family can be very freeing, because it can be didficult to get the voice of a parent out od your head, or to stop worrying about their happiness. Feeling responsible for your parents happiness can be a horrible burden. However, the breakdown of the family, or the separation, physical distance, can mean less support in times of need. It can be lonely. Family can be built-in friendship and community. In America, because we are such a large country, distance can be very very far.

I married someone who grew up in a family where the children are expected to stay home until they married. My husband’s brother did not leave until his mid thirties, he was not marrying at the time, and everyone thought him to be horrible. I knew two Indian people who explained to me that their family, their parents would always come before their spouse. That is difficult for me. They were young and not married yet, so I am not sure if their view changed. (I should also say that other Indian families I know are wonderful, and it does not appear to me the parents are overly demanding or interfere in their child’s marriage.) Anyway, both these examples feel to me like it stunts or delays the independence and growth of the individual, not having full permission to pursue their own life.

lonelydragon's avatar

@JLeslie My thoughts exactly, but you said it more eloquently than I did.

@incendiary_dan I responded that way because, as I understood it, you indicated that moving away from one’s family was unhealthy (perhaps I misunderstood you). I just wanted to explain why, for some people, physical distance could be healthy for the relationship and for the adult child. I agree that people shouldn’t feel that they have to conform to a social standard that doesn’t work for them, but do not see how the pattern of moving away from one’s parents causes harm to society, especially if we assume that most people do it willingly.

Haleth's avatar

Like @janbb said, I want to work harder than my parents did at being self-aware. I live in the same city as my parents but only see them two or three times a year when my grandmother invites the whole family together for holidays. Otherwise we don’t even call each other. My stepmother makes me feel very uncomfortable and unwelcome so I can’t wait until the holidays are over. My dad’s a pretty good guy, and he seems to feel bad about it- he’s always pretty nice to me when we get together- but he just goes along with whatever she says and never initiates any contact. My stepmother strongly encouraged my sister to join the airforce, and now my sister can only make it back into town once a year. So I kind of wonder- does my dad mind being this distant from his first set of kids? Does he ever feel bad about it, and why did he let it happen?

If I ever have children, I want to put all the best that I have into it. I want to give them guidance, freedom, and love in equal measures and encourage them to seek out their own paths in life. Above all, I want them to grow up curious, strong and happy. I don’t want to impose my own views about politics/ education/ religion/ whatever on them. My future kids might grow up and think I’m annoying in spite of my good intentions, but at least I’ll know I’ve done my best.

incendiary_dan's avatar

Sorry for the lack of response, and now finally seeing this and remembering to respond.

What I was addressing was the assumption of parental separation that is symptomatic of a larger cultural trend towards compartmentalization and severing of close personal and community ties encouraged through mass media and the general narrative of our culture. This makes it increasingly hard for people to gain lasting and deep social relationships in any facet of their lives, particularly as our culture moves away from valuing the social skills necessary for such deep relationships and more exclusively on skills that make you “productive”. In many senses this creates a barrier between otherwise responsible and conscious citizens which makes them less likely to address and oppose social injustices presented to them, and perhaps even more likely to commit, or at least reinforce, these injustices and disparities knowingly.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I have a much better relationship with my kids than I had with my parents.

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