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?