Parenting and being parented in the sandwich years

 
    I am the Open Path partner with the oldest child which means I've made the most mistakes.
 
   It also means that I am wading into the uncharted territory of parenting (is it that?) an adult offspring. I can not refer to my daughter as an adult child. What is that? A contradiction in terms?
 
  At the same time my husband and I venture into another phase of parent-off spring relations, we both have surviving parents in our lives. We are in the sandwich years.
 
  I have been reading Gordon Neufeld's Hold on to Your Kids and it has occured to me that his lessons  about attachment are timeless. They apply to the dependent child years as well as beyond. Way beyond.
 
  Often I hear of people having less than inspiring conversations with their elderly parents that usual end with the old refrain of ' you don't visit'. Many of these conversations focus on complaints by the parent about the difficulties of aging,  neglect by friends and family, etc. Even if there is frequent communication between 'parent' and off spring it is not very nourishing, entertaining or fulfilling for either party.
 
 Neufeld says as a parent tries to recover a wayward child they need to create a space that the child is interested in being in with them. Make being with you more interesting and nurturing than being with peers and children will make that choice.
 
  I'm thinking that the same is true further into adulthood the only difference being there are a lot more places of attachement to choose from! When 'parents' use the phone conversations and visits  to rant unproductively ,they are not making being attached to them very interesting at all. Right up there with going to the dentist (although we love our dentist and my husband and I would probably choose him over our parents in this mood any day).
 
   I am helping my family celebrate my father's 80th birthday this week. He is actively involved in intellectual, political and artistic ventures in his life. He is interesting to be around, generous with his time and interest, and although shy, a master of inclusion. It should be a fun time! I'm delighted to spend time with him. He and his life are interesting, safe, and inspiring to be around.
 
  As the physical confines of parenting pass by and our children move on with their independant lives we need to make ourselves an interesting option.  As our daughter moves back and forth through our lives and our home my husband and I need to increasingly release the reins on the advise and unsolicited guidance in her life and increase the 'inviting space' aspect of our company.

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