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Susan Adcox

The Satisfaction Checklist for Grandparents and Adult Children

By July 9, 2012

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I'm a fan of the radio show This American Life, and I often browse the archives for programs that I may have missed. Recently I came across a gem from 1996 called "Adult Children." It begins with a conversation between host Ira Glass and his mom, Dr. Shirley Glass, a well-known family therapist who died in 2003. The subject of the conversation is a women's group that Dr. Glass belonged to. The group initially gathered to talk about various subjects but eventually decided that they only wanted to talk about their adult children. That's a powerful statement about how children, even when they are grown, continue to be vitally important in their mothers' lives.

Dr. Glass had a checklist for gauging how satisfied parents were with their adult children. According to Dr. Glass, satisfaction depends on whether the child:

  • Is married.
  • Lives near the parents
  • Has children (grandchildren for the grandparents)
  • Is successful
  • Is married to someone the parents approve of
  • Appreciates the parents.

I have a gut feeling that Dr. Glass's list can predict parental satisfaction fairly well, although I would add one more item--whether the child is a good person. I'm not sure I would be satisfied with a child, no matter how prolific or successful, if I didn't feel that he or she was a good person. Dr. Glass's list also made me wonder whether a similar list could be developed for gauging the satisfaction of adult children with their parents and, if so, what kinds of things would be on it. Do you think you could induce your adult children to stop by and leave a comment telling us? Or do we really want to know?

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July 9, 2012 at 9:28 am
(1) Grandma's Footsteps says:

How about this as a list to start off with:

• Doesn’t interfere with the way we bring up our children
• Doesn’t visit too often
• Isn’t critical of partner
• Listen when you need them to
• Only give advice when asked to
• Are especially interested in the children and are nice to them
• Aren’t a burden in any way

Am checking with my adult children. Best wishes, Rosemary

July 9, 2012 at 9:51 am
(2) grandparents says:

That’s a great list, Rosemary. I bet I know which one most of us have trouble with! (It starts with the word “only.”)

July 9, 2012 at 10:09 am
(3) Lisa @ Grandma's Briefs says:

I agree completely with your “good person” addition. I don’t agree too much with “number of grandchildren” item on the list. My youngest swears she’ll never have kids…and I’m actually quite thankful for that, as she’s definitely not “mom” material. (Though I do think she may change her mind as she matures, and that would be okay—as long as she’s, by then, “mom” material).

Not likely my kids would stop by and comment (can’t even get them to comment on my blog!) :-D . I’m fairly certain, though, that everything they’d list would be things I don’t do as often as I should. But I’m also pretty sure the one thing they’d put at the very top of their list and the one (maybe only) thing I do regularly and to their satisfaction is to let them know I love them regardless of any stupid (to my mind, at least) decisions they may make, to love them unconditionally.

July 9, 2012 at 11:59 am
(4) Grandma Kc says:

I know I would never get Jenna to stop by and comment either — and maybe I don’t want her to — maybe I like living with my delusions that we have an awesome relationship!

July 10, 2012 at 5:49 pm
(5) Grandma's Footsteps says:

Well it triggered an interesting exchange with my daughter about how far away is far away (i live the other side of Europe from my children). But she told of a friend who emigrated from UK to Australia and made grandparents very cross, so distance can be relative. My daughter thought that being nice to the grandchildren was an important attribute – she knows cases where it doesn’t happen although thinks it is rare. (Not sure chat rooms back that up though). She disagreed with being a burden, as she thought relationships as adults are two way, but I was thinking of really difficult circumstances like not having enough money to look after say a parent with Alzheimers’. Good subject! Best wishes Rosemary

July 12, 2012 at 1:40 pm
(6) Laurie says:

I like the above comments, though slightly modified.
- Loves unconditionally
- Is especially interested in the children and is nice to them
- Isn’t critical
- Gives advice when necessary (maybe not just when asked for!)
- Is supportive during stressful events / life changes

But one of the things I really appreciate about my parents is the effort they put into maintaining a close, positive relationship with the entire family – especially my siblings, their spouses and their kids, but also the extended family. I really cherish this quality.

I live close to my parents, and I like that it doesn’t have to be a big production to go visit. I can see them every week without a bunch of expense or planning. I can see how this could get to be a problem for some families, but I think we have a mutually pleasing schedule and our visits are relatively free of drama and chaos. :)

July 12, 2012 at 1:44 pm
(7) debra says:

I have three sons and while one of them looked at my blog once I can’t picture them coming by to comment, no. MAYBE if I had girls in bikinis, dirty jokes, motorcycles or hot rods on there….

My son’s GF has gone on a few times but …she’s a girl, that’s why :)

Neice goes on by phone sometimes but her comments are never on the blog…they are a series of texts from her to me

You know….how texting replaced talking ? :)

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