My son and I were watching a movie the other night. The male lead had just lost his wife to cancer. He and his three pre-teen children were in the early stages of grieving, adjusting to life without Mom. His in-laws had come to stay for a few days, and they had all kinds of ideas for him and the children. Things came to a head after mom-in-law rearranged his kitchen to suit her own ideas, and then announced that she and dad-in-law would be more than happy to move in “temporarily” so that he wouldn’t have to worry about the children or the house.
By this time, the male lead (call him Brad) had been flooded with other well-meaning friends and neighbors who had overwhelmed him with chicken casseroles and apple pie. He was in shock from his wife’s sudden death. He was tired of pretending to be okay with the interference of his (well-meaning but misguided) in-laws. He snapped. Told them NO! They were not moving in. This conversation is over.
In the next scene, in-laws are loading up their car, feeling quite aggrieved and misunderstood. Brad is trying to make up for his outburst. And finally the mother-in-law makes one of my most-dreaded comments. She says, “But we were just trying to help! Just trying to do what’s best for you and the children!”
I’ve written about this topic here, so I won’t rehash the whole thing. Just two points: ASK before you jump in to “help,” and then LISTEN and follow your adult child’s wishes. Also, consider that maybe you DON’T know what’s best for your adult children, and your “help” comes off as interference and condescension.
And please, don’t go rearranging your adult child’s kitchen or any other part of his house. It’s not your job. Really. It’s not.
A quick mention of another topic entirely: I’m only two payments away from finishing up my student loan, incurred in 1998 when I started working on my master’s degree so I could do private practice counseling. I can’t tell you how happy I am to be so close to making that final payment! I’ve been working at this job for nearly 16 years; I’ll be 70 in July. Making that final payment will give me the freedom to choose whether to continue or to retire.
I’ll probably continue, at least for a while or as long as my health will allow. I can sock that money away into our retirement fund, and that would be very good.
And that’s about it for this morning.