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Family Growing Older

Page history last edited by Holly Swyers 6 years, 5 months ago

What are some of the challenges of getting older together as a family, and what are some good ways to handle them? 


The challenges we face

There are many challenges which involve a mixture of distance, scheduling, aging, and different relationships within the family. As parents, there are factors that go into being the best parent, financial and emotional pressures are present among the first eighteen years of raising their children. Parents have to make sure that their children are brought up with great family values. Harvey Percy mentions that it is important, “…understanding that as parents you get 18 years to set children down the right path. You do not own your child for their whole life”. Parents also spend their time trying to help children create their own opinions and ideas that will later help them become independent and solve problems on their own.


Sometimes parents have a tough time letting go and expect their children to be their young children forever. In some cases, this means even if they have moved out, have gotten married, and have children of their own. Once children start getting older, they then take care of their parents. As children age, they can also start giving back to their parents.


As people progress through the stages of their lives -- from young adulthood, through adulthood, to middle age and beyond -- their relationships naturally change.  The aging process itself has a significant impact on how we interact with family members and others.  As we age, we accumulate life experiences.  Over time, we gain a broader perspective on what’s most important in life. Gustav Lowry says “with time, you come to realize that relationships are the most important thing.  You become more accepting of your own flaws and the flaws of others.  You begin to realize that while performance and achievement matter, they’re not the most foundational aspects of a person’s life.  Real happiness and contentment come from accepting and appreciating the people in our lives we love and who love us.  It’s not that success isn’t important, it’s just not as important as building deep, loving, lasting relationships.”


Distance & Scheduling

Involving distance, there are physical and mental distance between family members. Physically, people can simply live apart from the rest of the family. This is the result of kids going to college or moving out of the parents’ house. It also involves the parents too. In Felix Golding case, his parents are divorced and living far apart from each other. Thus, Golding has to strategically decide where to live, in between his parents, to establish that there are not any favorites among their children. This proves difficult, because it then becomes about how to balance time with each parent. Finding time for family is a key issue with assessing the challenge of distance. With college students, who are away from home, their parents usually need to initiate communication with their children. However, when the family gets older it becomes the opposite.


 Vicky Lewis, talks about the stage when the parents have done their roles as parents in a story from her interview: 

I used to complain that my parents were ‘done being parents’ because they didn’t communicate with me as often as they did when I was in college and generally seemed uninterested in my life. But really, they were just becoming more interested in their own lives, which was a good thing. If you find yourself in a similar situation, you can consider taking the initiative to communicate with your parents, even if, previously, your role was to wait for them to contact you. If you can, go ahead and call them, text them, e-mail them, send them photos. Your parents still love you, after all! 


Making sure to take the initiative of communicating with your family members is very important because sometimes with all the chaos or busy schedules people tend to forget that they have siblings and parents. Sometimes even the distance will help make a bond stronger or it can deteriorate a bond. But what people should remember is that family comes first and no one else is going to love and care for anyone more than them. 



This is also an example of the challenges with age, which isn’t necessarily physical challenges of old age but rather due to a change of mindset over time. Marco Cain II shares that, “As [your kids] get older and go to college/ high school your kids won’t need you as much.”  As a parent, you must realize this and understand to accept the changes. The objective isn’t to hold and control your kids for the rest of your life, it’s to mold them into “Dynamite citizens” as Ernesto Lee puts it. This acceptance with age goes both ways. As a child, they are going to realize that as they grow up they are going to discover new aspects about their parents. “Once you are an adult you learn so much more about your family, maybe even the things you never wanted to learn,” reminds Igor O’Hara, which one must accept. This can alter the ways you behave and interact with your parents. This is not limited to just parent child relationships.


Karl Salinger notes that “the partner that you choose at 25 might be a different person than the way that they are when they are 55.” Gustav Lowry agrees that maintaining strong family bonds and friendships is crucial for happiness. Fred Caldwell says that a strong bond between parents is “the most important gift you can give your children.” As family members age, parental roles naturally change. However, the impact of building and maintaining health relationships, both within and outside of the family, never diminishes.


At that point roles may switch, but will certainly change. As mentioned above, by Vicky Lewis, parents will become more interested in their own lives because of this release of obligation from their children. “When you have little kids, you are the center of the entire universe,” states Marco Cain II, but “You do not own your child for their whole life,” reminds Harvey Percy. In this time, as the parents, it is a good idea to focus on your relationship with your spouse, as Arthur Percy says, “…there are a lot of challenges with the relationships, but they get stronger with age.” There will still be time for the child and parents to interact with one another, it comes down to scheduling time aside just for family, explains Gabrielle Burroughs


This page was developed from interviews with:

Gustav Lowry, Fiona Lovecraft, Harvey Percy, Karl Salinger, Earl Roth, Felix James, Erin Nabokov, Felix Golding, Igor O'Hara, Vicky Lewis, Gabrielle Burroughs, Marco Cain II, Arthur Percy, Fred Caldwell, Ernesto Lee




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