Evolving Family Dynamics: Adult Children

Your relationship with your adult children is likely to be extremely important to you. You probably want to maintain a close relationship with your adult children regardless of your child's age and the geographical distance between the two of you.

Conversely, parents remain important to their lives as well. The myth that older people are abandoned by their adult children or seldom seen by them is, indeed, largely a myth. The parent-child relationship is one of the longest lasting social ties that human beings establish.

Older people and their adult children have many kinds of relationships. And like all relationships, the parent and adult child relationship will naturally ebb and flow. So, it is not surprising that parents and adult children at times disagree with each other.

Sources of conflict between parents and adult children:

  • lifestyle
  • finances
  • personality differences
  • frequency of contact
  • unsolicited advice
  • living arrangement

As an older parent you may have reached the conclusion that your adult children have a right to lead his or her own lives and you understand your adult child's need to pursue his or her own interests. A mutual respect between parent and adult child has been fostered by such understanding.

As both parents and adult children age, the relationship quite naturally tends to become more of a supportive friendship between two equal adults. Of course, family dynamics are not always so smooth.

Like all relationships, the parent-adult child relationship demands nurturing in order to remain viable and mutually satisfying.

As time passes, however, it is common for some degree of role reversal between parent and child to occur. Sometimes, these changes are welcomed by both the parent and the child. At other times, there may be resistance from one or both parties. Vision loss may have prematurely hastened role reversal and may be unwelcomed. After all, the parent still wants to be treated as an adult. It may be difficult for the parent to ask for help so an offer of assistance from the adult child may be accepted or declined. Mastering everyday living skills using adaptive techniques may alleviate some concerns for both the parent and the adult child in the event of vision loss.

Another reality of demographics is the growing population of adult children over the age of 65 who are parents and sometimes also grandparents themselves.

The demands of multiple family generations can be considerable for adult children known as the "sandwich generation."

If you or your parent is experiencing vision loss, the parent adult child relationship may present additional challenges. However, it is important to remember that with these challenges also comes the opportunity to forge closer bonds fostered out of mutual respect and caring. You may find the information in the Family and Friends section helpful in your role as a parent or the adult child with vision loss.

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