The conversational closeness that we shared with our little children can return with our adult children
New York Times reporter Michael Winerip writes an excellent column called GenerationB (as in Baby Boomer) for the New York Times. He often strikes a chord that resonates with the parents of adult children. Earlier this fall his column “Life’s Travels for a Father and a Son” centered on his oldest son’s departure for senior year in college. The column considered much more than the hurried goodbye: memories, plans, hopes, the father-son connection.
One line particularly resonated with me. Winerip recounted a dinner that he and his son shared, just the two of them, where the conversation swirled around many subjects. Winerip writes:
It was wonderful and surprising how quickly that feeling of closeness — present daily until they become teenagers — came flooding back.
The teenage years and the great silence. That’s hard to adjust to after the nursery and grammar school years when many (not all) children tell you everything, when their thoughts tumble out spontaneously. That feeling of closeness does disappear during the teenage years, depending upon the child and his or her personality.
When does that conversational closeness come back, if ever? Of course we don’t expect our adult children to tell us everything (as if they ever did). But the easy conversations, the bantering back and forth, even the friendly disagreements are part of the fabric of the family. Sometimes in our 24/7 world it seems that every conversation, every text, every email has to have a point, something to be checked off from to-do list, even in our dealings with our grown children.
Perhaps we have to build in some “hanging out” time with our adult children: time to just sit around in the backyard, at the beach, around a leisurely dinner, watching a game, rocking a newborn and just chatting. It’s during those random, unplanned times that the feeling of closeness can creep in and envelope us like the fog on little cat feet.