Relationship with Adult Children

From my 2009 Journal

I’m still learning what is appropriate and what isn’t in relationship with an adult child under our roof. Is it reasonable to expect our daughter to pick up after herself in family living areas? To help with the dishes? With cooking? With cleaning the house? And if she chooses not to, how do I approach the subject with her? I realize communication at this point can be tricky. My expectations and desires for a neat and tidy house must be subservient to maintaining relationship. Therefore, I am far more tolerant of mess than I would be if I were still trying to train her.

Child-training was like using all my strength to pull three girls in a wagon who are pushing and shoving and fighting each other. If I insisted they get out of the wagon occasionally to walk on their own or help push a little, they whined, “We’re too tired!” (Well, so are the parents!)

The trouble is when children get comfortable in the wagon, they expect you to bring their food to them and clean their play area even though they’re old enough to clean it themselves, and you trip over the toys, and have to clean around them. Where did I go wrong in my parenting that my training didn’t stick?

Now that they’re grown and living with us, it’s time to drop the wagon handle. The challenge is not to become resentful or nagging when they don’t join me in household chores.

While living in a college dorm, our one daughter discovered firsthand what it felt like to have a roommate who never cleaned up after herself in the kitchen. So when she came home, I was delighted to hear of her intentions to help out more with the dishes. So if she’s too tired to help out for a couple days, do I hold her to her good intentions? Do I feel resentful when I return home to find breakfast dishes still in the sink? So she slept late that day, worked the entire day, and ran out of energy before the work was done after supper . . . (welcome to the grownup world, kiddo!) I do not fault her, but I do have to figure out what is an appropriate response.

Jesus says, “Whistle while you work.” Praise Him that I have two arms and two hands. Praise Him that I’m not in a wheelchair and unable to stand at the sink. Change my attitude and enjoy the brief time I have with my daughter. She’ll soon be gone, and I’ll miss her.

A 2023 Update. Now that my girls have homes of their own, it’s fun to watch them struggle through the challenges of training rambunctious boys to put away their clothes or help in the kitchen. And when they come to Grandma’s house for a visit, chaos reigns for a few hours or days and I love them all. But when they go, tidy returns. I guess you can’t have it both ways!