Part of the HOME, HEALTH & YOU Series
Keeping your family close in midlife can be a challenge, but after all, is there anything more important than family? Whether you are in close physical proximity or thousands of miles away, those relationships are precious and are worth the time and effort to nurture as we age.
For me, family is the most important thing in the world, because nobody is going to stand by you through ups and downs of life like family members.
As children grow into adults and create their own lives it’s easy for family to drift apart, and for issues to arise as we all get older.
So, let’s look at some of the ways we can keep our family close in midlife and beyond. As a woman in her 60’s I can relate. I have three grown sons, two of whom are married with children. I love being Nana to the grand kids, of course!
Since I published this post last year, my dad passed away and I made the huge decision to move from Florida back to Michigan to be close to all of my family. The desire to have the physical closeness and time with everyone became the most important thing for me.
As women in midlife we are, literally, in the middle!
Keeping Your Family Close in Midlife
It’s All About Communication
It really is all about communication when it comes to your family.
The history we have with family members is a two-edged sword. Some of those memories (hopefully many of them) are happy, and we think back on them fondly. Inevitably, though, there will be memories of interactions that are unpleasant and perhaps upsetting…maybe even bringing out some anger, years later.
One of the saddest things I see is family members who do not speak to each other. Why does that happen? There are a number of reasons that communication stops, but many times it is the silliest things that lead to these estrangements.
Of course, the communication barrier affects more than just the siblings, or parent/child, or whatever the relationship is, than the two parties involved. It filters through the family and like a game of dominoes, can affect all of the other family communication and events.
A treasured family holiday with a couple members missing because of broken communication takes a toll on the rest of the family as well as putting a damper on the occasion.
What can you do, as a woman in midlife, to help heal these tough situations, or foster reconciliation?
- Try not to take sides. If you have an opinion, and you probably do, keep it to yourself. Don’t add fuel to the fire.
- Approach the estranged family members in love. It will come through on your face, in your actions and in your words.
- Use your life experience to offer guidance and direction in a non threatening way.
- Understand that you can’t fix things. Love them and let God work in their hearts.
LONG DISTANCE FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS
As our children grow into adulthood and make their life decisions, we are continuing to make ours as well. Travel, retirement, adventure, health issues…all of these things factor into where we land and ultimately lay our head at the end of the day.
My husband and I moved to Florida when we were 50 years old, leaving our families behind in Michigan. That was in 2006. A couple of our kids moved near us for awhile; both are now back in MI.
I am the only family member who lived out of state. My husband passed away 2 1/2 years ago. I loved living in SW Florida and chose to stay there for several years after he was gone, traveling to MI as often as I was able.
So how did I stay in touch and maintain a relationship with my family? Well, thank goodness for technology! Between the cell phones, texts, images, social media and Skpe, we were able to keep up with the day to day events in our lives.
It takes effort, though, to keep a relationship strong from a distance, and I made travel to Michigan a budget priority. Because when all is said and done, there was nothing like hugging my folks, my kids, holding my grand kids…there is no technology for that!
Keeping your family close in midlife can be a challenge, but the rewards are priceless! Click To Tweet
The love, attention, care and priority that you gave to your children when they were young, will most likely be returned to you in kind when they grow up. If you are frustrated with the relationship now…take a look back.
Supporting Elderly Members Of The Family
In all of this, where do the elderly members of the family fit in? I’m talking about your parents, or for the young parents, your grandparents. In most situations they would love to get in on the action, but it really isn’t always possible for them, especially if they’re starting to lose the ability to do things for themselves.
My mom are in her 90’s and is residing in an Independent Living community in their town. She absolutely loves it, and has found new friendships and activities (who thought Mom would ever play bingo!) since her life became that of a widow last summer. There are many positive aspects to this type of senior living, although her ‘home’ is actually an apartment that is less than 750 sq.ft.
But you know what? We have managed to have a number of the casual type family gatherings I mentioned above in this little home, and we all fit into her small home just fine. Call it cozy 🙂 It is a way to keep mom involved and part of the family without having to leave home.
A note about your elderly parents. If they’re struggling to do things for themselves, you could always have a look at home care packages. It takes the pressure off of them, and allows them to relax a little bit more, rather than worrying about the fact that they can’t do as much as they could in the past.
As an adult daughter in midlife, helping my parents, now just my mom, takes a lot of time, effort, patience and love, but I am happy to do whatever I can to make her life more enjoyable and comfortable.
Keeping your family close in midlife will almost always include family gatherings. What wonderful memories are made during these times!
I grew up in Detroit with parents who were both children of immigrants. My Italian mother’s family all lived in the area. We were together every Sunday afternoon, for every holiday, every birthday (yes…every family birthday…my mom had 5 brothers and sisters, and they all had kids), so many, many memories were made with this side of the family.
Of course things were not perfect, those Italian tempers showed themselves fairly regularly, family members got mad at each other. Unfortunately some of those rifts continued for much too long. But overall, I have such fond memories of those gatherings around the long dinner table!
Families can be so spread out around the country, or around the world, and the idea of a family gathering could be a major undertaking. But as ‘mom’ to the kids and daughter to the folks, if they are still with you, coordinating a simple gathering with your local family is well worth the effort.
We tend to have casual, impromptu gatherings, and I know this much: it doesn’t have to be fancy or formal to be a wonderful time together. It just takes someone to say, “what day can we get together?” You can meet at a family member’s home or go out and enjoy having some good food and a few drinks.
You never know what a day is going to bring to you. We are not promised tomorrow. Spend time with your family today.
Family Events & Holidays
Casual get-togethers are awesome, but some families step it up a notch and go on a big family holiday. Many families – even extended families – take trips, cruises, utilize time shares, travel abroad, and more. It certainly requires a larger budget and a lot of planning, but there is nothing like the entire family being there to share in, and make, those precious memories.
If a trip of that nature is not feasible, a family event like a picnic at the park or the beach (that would be my choice!) is easier to coordinate, and definitely less of a budget expenditure.
As a woman in midlife, if you have the desire to keep your family close as the years go on, there are many ways you can foster, encourage and create opportunities for this to take place. All it takes is the first step!
HOME, HEALTH & YOU is a series of short posts that cover a variety of personal improvement, health, fashion and home decor topics. They include helpful resources, tips and advice. I hope you enjoy them!