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My Adult Children Never Listen to Me



"I am 89 years old and I have some thoughts to share. When did children stop listening to their elders? It seems that my children are more likely to make fun of my comments than listen to my thoughts and have respect for my views on things. 

They seem to have no interest in the way we did things in the past. In fact, they scoff at my ways of cooking, child rearing, and a host of other things. Politics is an absolute minefield with them. I am afraid to open my mouth in their presence.

Frankly, at this point I am fearful about my future, as I do not believe they will respect my wishes. I think that they may just throw me into any old facility and grab the money.

How does one handle their adult children?"



It’s unfortunate that you live in fear of your children’s potential future actions. It’s a very uncomfortable place to be at this point in your life.

It’s common for each generation to have differing opinions on many things. Since you mentioned child rearing, I’ll start there. Theories on how to raise a child do seem to change about every five to ten years. As an example, in the good old days, when my children were infants, no parent would ever place a baby on its back to sleep; we did not want them to choke on their spit up. Today, it’s a big no-no to place an infant on its stomach for fear of suffocation. When I was a new nurse, we started babies on cereal at 3 months, and then it went to a year, and now it is somewhere in between. The “rules” keep changing, and pity the parents who try to keep up on the latest recommendations. 

It’s quite likely you raised your children just fine with the beliefs you held at the time. Please recognize that your children are just trying to do the same. Listen to them, and do share your experiences, but then let it alone. You raised your children in a different time and place. Now it’s their turn, for better or worse.

Moving on to cooking! I suspect your children are eating things like kale, drinking kombucha, and opting for soy milk. They reject the way you eat, and the food they prepare is foreign to you. I hope that’s the worst of it. You were raised on one diet, and they’re making some choices that are different. Let’s face it - there have been quite a few advancements in food science since you were young. Is all of it accurate? I question some of the fads, but recognize that they are just that. On this front, I suggest you try new things. Some you will like, and others you will not. I assure you they will embrace some of the traditional dishes that were made by your family. It’s okay to blend the old with the new. It need not be just one way.

Political conversations can be very oppositional these days. I would tread lightly on politics. The wonderful thing is that we each have a confidential vote in this country. Take in information and make your voice heard at the polls. Getting into a family battle is ill advised.

The most concerning thing you mentioned is your fear that your children will not listen to your voice in planning your future care needs. Due to your age, I recommend that you take steps to plan for your future now and place it in writing. You need an Advance Directive and a trusted individual to carry out your wishes. An estate attorney may be in your best interest at this time, as they can set this up with you. Do not delay and wish for the best. Planning is a strong recommendation in all situations.

My recommendation to adult children and elderly parents is to listen to each other. What you believe to be true today, you may find bettered by some advancement in the future. Do learn from the past while being open to the future. 

Life is a journey. Keep your eyes and heart open on the ride.