Daily Press (Sunday)

Put in the work for relationsh­ips

- Send questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@ creators.com

Adults who want close relationsh­ips with their parents put in the time and effort.

I’m stunned by the number of letters to advice columns from parents who gave their children everything and are devastated that their adult children refuse or limit contact with them. I can understand their disappoint­ment and loneliness; it must be painful.

There are people who believe that adult children are responsibl­e for their aging parents’ happiness.

They feel entitled to time, attention and a sense of human connection from their grown children, but it’s not a realistic expectatio­n. We’re each responsibl­e for our own vitality, joy and sense of connection.

Adults who want close relationsh­ips with their parents put in the time and effort.

If adult children avoid contact with their parents, there’s a reason; there’s some kind of disconnect­ion. Parents and adult children need to accept responsibi­lity for the part they play in relationsh­ip troubles and be willing to make amends and make changes.

Clinging to the narrative that you did everything for your children and they should now comply with your expectatio­ns for the relationsh­ip won’t help to heal the disconnect­ion.

If you’re wondering, I have two middle-aged children and several “bonus children” who are estranged from their parents. I’m old, sick and extremely grateful that they all keep showing up here voluntaril­y. — Family Therapist

Dear Family Therapist:

Yes, if you want a close relationsh­ip with your children, or really anyone for that matter — spouse, friend, sibling, etc. — you have to put in the work and effort. We get out what we put in. Thank you for your letter.

Dear Annie: I would like to add to the letter about continuing giving past the holidays. I have a good friend who volunteers at our local food bank.

A few years ago, she told me a story about an older gentleman who came in looking for food for his cat. All she had were some pouches of tuna, which she gave him. The story stuck with me.

I know how important pets are, especially to the elderly, and I imagined there are people who would go hungry in order to feed their pets.

So since then, every month, I donate small bags of dog and cat food to the food bank. I would like to encourage others to check with their local food bank and see if there is a need for pet food. And perhaps it would also ease the burden on our shelters, as if people have access to food for their pets, they wouldn’t have to make the heartbreak­ing choice of surrenderi­ng their beloved pets. — Think About the Pets

Dear Pets: Thank you for your letter. You bring up such an important point, which is that taking care of our own four-legged pets, and helping all pet owners do the same, is a wonderful gift to be given year-round.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States