How to turn on the “Loving Parent” mode when engaging adult children

by Lawrence J. J. Leonard

After years of struggling with old people, old souls, and old habits, I have discovered a mindset that, when engaged, puts a fresh perspective in getting on the good side of misunderstandings, arguments and friendships.  Anyone over 21 years is somebody’s child = an adult child, even if there are no parents.

1. Know that you are now in charge of an adult audience.  The ONLY way to avoid arguments is to understand that YOU represent benevolence and charm and patience and are not easily rattled. Smile and inhale. It makes them wonder why.

2. You must see yourself as the Party Host every minute and in every location. They are all your special guest(s), even when you are in their personal space.

3. Leave them plenty of time to react and say things that are unnerving or don’t make any sense in comparison to the normal adult conversation you might be used to, such as: “How nice you look today.”adult-children

3. Expect them to leave a mess, even when they promise to clean up after themselves. This is as true of twenty-somethings as it is of great-granpa.

4. You already know that they will be demanding, so be sure to have options picked out for them before you ask for their responses on activities and issues. Think ahead.

5. When you share something about yourself, express it with gentleness and grace. You will be heard but not reacted to, or, you will be contradicted, or, you will be told not to be so intense. Just enjoy their company as if they do care what you say.

6. When you want something done make sure to ask for it with a timeline and a consequence. Eg. – “Can you wipe down the table in the next few minutes, before I get done with the dishes?” No matter the answer, happily inform them: “If not, I can do it myself.” This way you can avoid arguing about promises.

7. If you are caregiving, have a calendar for the sweeping and mopping, for clothes washing and drying, and for any bill paying.  Then when you visit, you can say, “Hey! It’s (Activity) Day.  I brought my (pen, gloves, basket) so we can get that out of the way first, and then we can have coffee and talk.”

8. If you have had a hard day, week, month, and don’t feel appreciated, review #1.

9. You are not a money machine. So please do not solve problems by springing for “hamburgers” or “pizza” or “a loan with no collateral” or “the tab.”  Your job is to make people feel good about themselves by being a good listener, not to rescue them from stupid choices and insolvency.

10. Always be encouraging. The more you support other people’s activities, the more they will tell you how much or how little they like what ***they*** are doing. Especially when you ask them about it. Do not judge their activity. You can share details about an activity that you are doing and maybe it will get some traction.

11. You are always being recorded. Each good thing watched. Bad ones, too.  
11.a  So, slow your pace when reacting to something you think is negative.
11.b  Slow your driving no matter where you are headed because exceeding the speed limit means you are not paying attention to your passengers.
11.c  Slow your decision making. Ask others what they think (not about your personal choices) about helping out with tasks or finding a service person can help you. You may end up spending less time and less money tackling a chore or project.

12. The most important is the least important.  This means that it truly is the little things that separate us from people who bark orders or demean service people. Be genuine about questions that involve their health, or activities, or struggles.  If you get a reaction and supplemental questions, great.  If not, move on knowing that you are there to be in the “Loving Parent” mode for someone or several who might not ever receive from anybody else this wonderful gift of caring you are supplying.

Copyright © 1960-2017 Lawrence J. J. Leonard  All rights reserved.

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