Sunday, September 16, 2007

Breaking an Old Habit

I always thought it was in a mother’s job description to nag her children. My children would report that I have fulfilled my role in this regard quite well. However, I am currently making an effort to change this behavior and I can tell you it’s not easy.

When I look in my son’s room and see wall-to-wall stuff with no floor showing, I want so badly to say “When are you going to clean this mess up?” But I don’t say it.

When at 9:58 a.m. he says he’s meeting a girl in Arlington to play tennis at 10:00, I want to say “You need to call her to tell her you’re going to be late.” But I don’t say it.

When there is still a greasy spot on the washed cookie sheet he used or I find multiple glasses on the sink, I want to lay down the kitchen rules, but I don’t do it.

Instead I notice that he has taken out the kitchen trash every time the can fills up and totally reorganized our recycling efforts, which previously sucked.

I thank him for researching used grand pianos on Craig’s List for me.

Part of recognizing your child’s transition to becoming an adult has to be learning when to stop giving advice about everything. I’m not saying I’ll never again voice my opinion, but I am really trying to pick and choose as I make an effort to shed my tendency to nag. I can see that it makes for a much more comfortable relationship with my adult son, who usually has a plan for everything even though sometimes it differs from my approach.

10 Comments:

Blogger media concepts said...

Thanks, I know a couple of people who could use this respectful reminder.
How was the happy hour?

3:29 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Matt -- The happy hour reminded me that I am too old to pretend that it is fun to socialize in a noisy bar. I went to the happy hour mainly so I could give DC Cookie a wedding present. She hadn't arrived by the time I left, but she did get the present which I left with one of the hosts and thanked me profusely the next day.

6:08 AM  
Blogger Pauline said...

Living, especially living with others, is a constant adjustment process. I'll bet your son appreciates your restraint and will perhaps learn more by your example than your wrods...

6:40 AM  
Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

If I were you, it would KILL ME to keep my mouth shut. I salute you!

8:59 AM  
Blogger Kristin said...

It's difficult, I am sure. I know that my mom tries not to nag me and I try not to let the nagging bother me. Give and take.

It's great that you try! Not everyone can change the way they interact, especially with someone who's part of them.

9:10 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Pauline -- When he first pointed out to me just how much I nagged, I bristled and denied it. But I have come to realize that he was probably right. Sometimes it's hard to swallow the truth.

Reya -- It's probably a good thing you are not the mother of a 26-year-old!

Kristin -- Old habits are hard to break. But the results make it worth the effort.

9:31 AM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

Even at our age, we tend to fall so easily into the old patterns and I'm seeing it now from the parents' view.

7:03 PM  
Blogger Aileen said...

Oooh, I can't imagine how hard it is to break that habit. But kudos to you for working on it!

And in regards to happy hours...I still want to have an afternoon tea gathering this fall for the girl bloggers in the area. Sounds like a much better time to me! :)

8:41 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

MOI -- We are definitely creatures of habit.

Aileen -- I am so up for having a women Bloggers tea. Just let me know when and where!

10:15 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

There is a difference between nagging and opining. My mother was never shy to opine to her kids.

Of course, there is a difference between saying your piece over something about his life and his respecting your space (for example - messy room (not that I am any paragon of order)).

No matter how old your kids get, they will always be your kids, there is no getting away from that. It doesn't matter if you are 90 and they are 70. The only time when you will leave your children entirely alone is when you are dead.

5:33 PM  

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