How to handle who pays for your adult child’s nuptials
We’ve all encountered the bridezilla who drives everyone crazy with her dictums for a dream wedding. But what about moms and dads who demand that the affair be done their way? Some parents argue that their contribution to wedding costs gives them a major role in the planning.
But engaged couples may push back, aware that the traditional rules of who pays for what are outdated. Meanwhile, wedding expenses have skyrocketed: What used to be a ceremony and reception has spiraled in many cases into a weekend extravaganza with a welcome cocktail party, rehearsal dinner, reception after-party and farewell brunch.
What to do if an adult child calls you toxic
While we may not expect any Parent of the Year awards for the decades we spent raising kids, most of us believe we did a good job. But sometimes our adult children feel differently, blaming their disappointments on what we did — or didn’t do — as parents.
In extreme cases, some even label their parents “toxic” and cut off contact. The level of estrangement can range from bypassing family events to a total information blackout. One of the most traumatic situations is when adult kids won’t allow parents to visit with grandchildren.
Adult siblings gather round a conference table in a lawyer’s office, arguing bitterly over an inheritance. “We never thought this would happen to our family,” one comments. It’s a scene that Michigan estate attorney P. Mark Accettura has witnessed repeatedly. He has seen so many families ripped apart by feuds over a will that he wrote a book, Blood & Money, on how to avoid them.
While money may appear to be the cause of family fights, it’s usually about much more than that, Accettura says. “Money is how we keep score of who’s important in the fight for the intangibles of love, approval and primordial survival.”
Overheard at the gym: “I’m selling my house. It’s the only way I can get my son to move out and make sure the others don’t try to move back.” Apparently a boomer was downsizing sooner than planned because his 20-something son had become a squatter of sorts. The house was up for sale, and the couple was moving to a one-bedroom condo.
Many other parents share the crowded-nest problem. A 2015 survey found that almost 40 percent of young Americans are living with parents, siblings or other relatives, the highest percentage in 75 years.
Some parents expect and welcome the post-college sojourn for up to a year while the new grad finds a job and saves money to move out. The problems occur when a young adult refuses to leave or returns home with no game plan.
What can parents do in these situations? We chatted with Kim Abraham, a therapist in Grand Blanc, Mich., and coauthor of The Whipped Parent. Abraham takes a tough-love approach, with the belief that it’s a privilege — not a right — for children to live at home after age 18.
A friend says that when her adult children ask her for holiday gift suggestions, she tells them, “I want you. I want you to keep coming around, to bring your kids around. I want you to ask me questions, ask my advice, tell me your problems.”
That’s the wish of many parents, but it’s not so easy to influence and remain emotionally close to our adult children when they are living on their own. Ron Edmondson, pastor of the Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington, Ky., often advises parents on how to relate to their older kids. He offers several suggestions for how parents might build trust and stay relevant in their children’s lives.
Two 20-something brothers share an apartment in hipster Brooklyn, N.Y., and often post selfies on Facebook and Instagram of Sunday brunches with friends. It never fails that the first “like” – “Way to go boys! – is always from Aunt Sally. “It drives them nuts that she comments immediately,” their mom says. Apparently, Aunt Sally doesn’t know the unspoken rule of social media: Adults can see but not be heard.
Through Facebook and Instagram we enjoy a front-row seat at our children’s daily dramas, from teenage grandchildren to millennial parents. Without social media we probably wouldn’t know half of what goes on in their lives. Yet sometimes we feel like aliens lurking in an alternate universe, unaware of the rules of engagement.
Millennials have not only invaded the workplace, but more and more are becoming our neighbors — either when we move to an apartment or when they buy their first suburban home.
While most of us get along, there’s still a generation gap, according to a Trulia survey. About 25 percent of millennials and just 6 percent of boomers think of their neighbors as strangers rather than friends. Perhaps more troubling is that about 60 percent of the younger generation reported a gripe with a neighbor, especially noise from barking dogs or loud music.
Busting the stereotype of the grouchy older neighbor, about 60 percent of boomers have reported no problems with their neighbors. Millennial men also tend to call the authorities rather than knock on doors when it comes to dealing with problems. Millennial women and boomers generally ignore the problems.
When it comes to the holidays and our millennial children, the classic song lyrics “Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house we go” need an update.
Rather than visit, the kids may ask us to do the traveling. If they do come to us, there’s a good chance it won’t be on the actual holiday.
For parents of adult children, the holidays can mean abandoning decades-long traditions, and that’s not without some angst. But parents need to adapt to the changing family dynamic, says clinical psychotherapist Deanna Brann, author of Reluctantly Related. “Parents can’t assume that the traditions they’ve always had are going to continue.”