6 ways adult children are hurting their parents and don't even realize it

Are you so busy living your adult life that you’re forgetting your parents? Here’s a checklist to help you know if you’re giving your parents the attention they deserve and need.

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  • Even if not intended, there are some heart-wrenching ways adult children bring sadness into the lives of their parents. You may say you love your parents, but how will they know if you don't show them? Adult children can become so busy with their jobs and their own family that they can easily put Mom and Dad on the back burner without even being aware of doing it. But you can be sure, your parents are aware. They need your expressions of love. See if you are doing any of these things to be sure you are not hurting your parents.

  • 1. You hardly ever call them

  • Visualize a huge smile on the face of your parents when they pick up the phone and it's you on the other end. It will put a sparkle in their eyes that only you can create. They love hearing from you. They want to know you're OK. Let them in on the good things that are happening. If you're having a struggle, they want to know about that, too, so they can lend a listening ear and offer a prayer in your behalf. Let them share in your life. It will brighten theirs more than you'll ever know — until you're in their position. Let them give you their seasoned advice. It doesn't mean you have to take it; just listen and give it respectful consideration.

  • If you don't call because you're afraid they'll unload their burdens on you, then shame on you. They need someone who loves them to know what's going on in their lives. You don't have to make everything all better, but your listening will go a long way in helping them feel much better.

  • 2. You think you have a right to their money

  • News flash: YOU DON'T! Continually asking them for money is wrong. They worked hard for what they have, and they deserve to have it for their needs, not yours. You're an adult and are capable of providing for yourself. If you've borrowed money from them in the past and have not paid them back then do so as quickly as you can. They need the security of knowing they have enough to meet unexpected expenses that are bound to come in their later years. Also, they deserve to have some fun in those later years. Help make that happen by keeping your hands out of their pockets.

  • 3. You don't celebrate their birthdays

  • Just like you, they want to be remembered on their special day. Parents don't expect much, but they do feel loved when a card, a call or gift arrives that tells them you remembered. Sometimes go beyond the usual and show them a really fun time, such as dinner at their favorite restaurant, or invite their children and grandchildren for a party. Let them know that you are glad they were born. Turning another decade older is a lot more fun when you're surrounded by those you love.

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  • 4. You don't extend a helping hand

  • As parents age they need more help. Sometimes it's physical, like weeding the garden or cleaning the garage. Stopping by and offering to help in whatever way is needed will be a welcome gift to your parents. They simply can't do what they used to do. Look around and see what you can do that would be appreciated in their home. The time may come when their mental capacities start to diminish. A comment like, "Mom, could I give you a hand by balancing your check book?" will be helpful. Or there may be a time when she or your dad needs help writing out the checks to pay the bills. Be aware of what your parents need. It will change as they age. Be there for them. You can provide a great relief for them if you sincerely offer help; but don't push.

  • 5. You don't invite them to your family events

  • This doesn't need to happen for every event, but for the main ones, yes. They will love to be included for a holiday dinner, your child's baptism, an event where your child is performing, and especially a wedding. An occasional invite for Sunday dinner would be most welcome, also. A friend told us that when he and his wife moved closer to their daughter they were hoping to be invited to her home for dinner sometimes. Instead, they ended up having to be the ones always inviting her and her family to their home. It became difficult as they aged, and they wished to be invited by her more often.

  • 6. You don't say the words "I love you"

  • Parents yearn to hear these words. When a child says "I love you" it's like sunshine to their souls. When these words are accompanied by a hug, it's even more meaningful. If you're not accustomed to saying these tender words to your mom or dad, start today. It's more than a quick "love ya" at the end of a call. It's a warm and meaning statement like, "I sure do love you, Mom." Or Dad. They will cherish the moment and carry it in their hearts forever. Just do it.

  • You are setting the example for your children

  • A college president was speaking to his students at an assembly and said something they probably weren't expecting to hear: "My wife's widowed mother is ill and we are doing our best to love and care for her. We hope our children are watching." What goes around comes around. Your day will come. Will your children know how to care for you in your declining years because of the loving way you cared for your parents? Think about it.

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Gary Lundberg is a licensed marriage and family therapist. Joy is a writer. Together they author books on relationships.

Website: http://garyjoylundberg.com

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