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Winning or Whining

When you were raising that houseful of kids, it seemed that there was never a moment’s peace for you. Of course, as a parent you like being with your children. But when you got home from a long days work, sometimes a little peace and quiet was what you were hoping for rather than a chorus of needs, demands, complaints and requirements for litigation of their petty squabbles. But that’s what you got and you were dad so you took care of business for your family.

Or if you had the kids around all day as the primary caregiver, as much as you loved them, they did get under your skin sometimes. It’s funny now that you are settled into your senior citizen world that when you think back on those hectic days, you almost miss them.

In our senior years, we have the opposite problem from getting too much of the kids. The challenge you have which is a universal problem seniors go through, is how to get more of the kids not less. There are plenty of enticements to make you want to see them more. They are grown up now so when you see them, it’s like visiting with a friend rather than mentoring a youth. They are the adults now so they might even pick up the tab at the restaurant from time to time. And of course, there is that one magical world that draws to you want to see your children all the time– grandchildren.

So how do you go about enticing those kids to invite you over? You don’t want it to be something they do out of guilt. You want winning not whining when it comes to finding ways to make them want to see you as much as you want to see them.

Whining is universally ineffective. Nonetheless, if you poll other senior citizens, the guilt and whining and guilt method of trying to get their kids attention seems to be the mode of the day. A better way to create that same desire in your kids to see you is to be to them who they want you to be – wise old granddad and sweet loving grandma.

If the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, that principle certainly applies when it comes to your children and grandchildren. And your kids, no matter how great their married life is, have warm memories of your apple pie or that special smell of cinnamon roles that only mom can make. So bake for them often and let them know the kitchen is always open at grandma’s house and moochers are honored guests here.

Sometimes it gets overlooked in the hubbub of raising a family but your children will always need their mommy and daddy. If the door is open for them to call you or drop by for a glass of wine and some sage counsel, they will come through that door. Don’t be pushy and don’t be whiney about it. But if you gently check in with them and when you hear that special tone in your offspring’s voice that is quietly saying, “Daddy I need help”, you have a special coded phrase you can use to bring them to you.

For me, whenever my kids needed me but were too proud or too much a “teenager” to ask, I just said softly and lovingly, “What’s eating you, Sweetpea?” That phrase said it all. It said that the court of wise counsel was open for business and that this was an ear that would listen before it spoke and never judge you no matter what a mess you may have gotten yourself into.

Then there is that magic word we spoke of earlier – grandchildren. Those little bundles of energy love to see grandpa and grandma. So by keeping the door open to them, your kids will find ways to get their little ones over to see you. Whether its for the cookies or the counsel or the chance for the little ones to hear grandpa’s jokes or for your daughter in law to learn your secret for growing prize winning tomatoes, you have some bait to lure those kids to come see you. So use that bait to entice them to see you. And the more they find grandmas house is a place of fun and love, the more they will love to come over.

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