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FAQ #Two: Our twenty-seven year old son Chris has been married to Stephanie, age twenty-eight, for three years. Stephanie was born and raised in a very small town in the mid-west and went to a church-sponsored college. They presently live about 3 hours away from a medium-sized mid-western city, where we have lived in a suburb for forty-some years. They have a 1 and 1/2 year old baby.
It has been over two years since Chris and Stephanie have been to our house for a visit even though we have invited them many times. We have gone to their home on several occasions, often to babysit. Stephanie has often talked about her dislike of cities and thus her reluctance to come to our home, even though we live in a well-established neighborhood that has its own downtown, school system, etc. She also seems to operate on the belief that "if my parent's can't come or participate in an event, then your parents (to Chris) won't be invited. Since Stephanie's parents live 8 hours away in a small town in the mid-west, and don't like to travel, they are seldom at Chris and Stephanie's. Thus when special events come up that involve our grandson, we aren't invited.
We would like for our son and his wife to come to visit a couple of times a year; and for us to be able to see our grandson more often. What can be done about this?
FAQ #Two Response. You are in a very tough position. First off, typically the wife of a couple controls the social calender of that couple so Stephanie is very influential on whether or not, and when, they would come to see you. Secondly, she has an attitude or values problem, the hardest type with which to deal (Please see Parenting the Emerging Adult, Your Adult Mind: Four Different Domains All at Work). Thirdly, you don't say whether Chris wants to come and visit nor where he is at in relation to your getting more invitations to their house on special event times?Attitudes come from the values one holds which in turn come from one's life experiences......how does one then convince a diehard country girl that city life can be quite pleasant and fun?
The first step is that there needs to be some repeated exposure to what she is avoiding. Start approaching this by nicely verbalizing to Stephanie that you know that she strongly prefers country living to city living...pick your words carefully but be clear as to what the difference is about. Do not in any way scold her or indicate that she is wrong or she will hang on to her views even stronger. Tell her that there are many things about country living that you like as well and that you hope she can show you her life in the country. Then, follow that up with your statement about something that you like about your city, neighborhood or area that can be shared. Ask her to then join you in enjoying that event, area, or person. For example, ask her to join you in going to a special concert or sporting event, touring a museum, going to your favorite park or restraurant, etc. Have something specific in mind, both in terms of "what" and "when". This exposure will need to occur more than once.
Expect rejection and delay in joining you but be persistent. Value change comes slowly after repeated exposure and discussion. After you do something together, review it with carefully chosen words. Do not say: "See, you do like our food here after-all!" Instead, say something like: "I really enjoyed the food the new chef prepared; was there anything attractive there to you?" The first goal is exposure to the"new"; the second goal is to move from avoidance to involvement. One doesn't have to start out liking something to getting involved, they just have to be willing to participate.
Do the above and write back to us about what happens and we will comment further. In the meanwhile, read the article noted earlier.
FAQ #Three Response: I can appreciate your feelings; it is not a good feeling to be discounted as you were. Your reaction is common. Perhaps an understanding of what was likely going on will help you not have those feelings if this happens again.
Although you could be offering your views in an authoritative or "I'm right" manner, it is more likely that what is going on has to do with the stage of development of your emerging/young adults. They are probably needing to establish their own idenities, to speak up for their own views and to learn how to make decisions. Therefore, what is discussed is all about what they think, not about having different points of views or even giving everyone in the room a chance. It is on identifying and reinforcing their views and making themselves feel good.
In addition, you may have been thinking: "we are all adults here, I can be one of the guy/girls and join them as equals." That is unlikely ever to be the case. You are always going to be "the Parent", even to your Adult Child's spouse. They thus will react to you in that role, not as you want to be treated.
Continue to share your thoughts and opinions but don't expect any support or agreement. Don't be the first to comment or take a stand. Practice with them acknowledging their points; e.g. "so you think the Patriots are the team to beat? How long have you had that point of view?' And if you can, "tell me more....." or "elaborate". Finish off with "you could be right" or "you have some good points."
Find another group of people, perhaps your own peers, with whom to share your thoughts. Don't rely on your offspring and their spouses for much support or validation.
FAQ # Three Response:
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