Am I the ‘Man from Mars’ when dealing with my adult children?

There are many things for which life doesn’t quite prepare you. Anyone approaching the eight decades mark will testify to this.

I have complained many times of not having the energy to do small physical tasks. I have complained about my short-term memory which seems to be a standard complaint from most of the seniors to whom I speak.

I can’t deny that I occasionally get lost driving to places that are as familiar to me as the back of my hand (wherever that is). I certainly know where I am going and rely on my inner GPS to get me there, but lately it has been failing me.

A psychologist suggested I read a book called Mindfulness which I am in the middle of reading right now. What it attempts to do is allow you to focus on the immediate task at hand and not allow your brain to begin to wander to perhaps a new article or book.

Apparently there simply is not enough room in my particular head to store both, hence I turned right instead of left and end up not being where I am supposed to be. I would be worried if I was the only one experiencing this but talk to any of your senior friends and I assure you that it is a common problem.

One of the more difficult problems I am dealing with and perhaps this is not as common as other problems. Like many of you I’m a parent of what used to be children but are now full-fledged adults.

I am still their “daddy” in my own mind and expect that I can tell them what to do and how to do it. I am also of the male gender and if you read the book Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus you will know that in my role as daddy I am supposed to be able to fix or mend just about anything.

Yeah, sure! As for my ability to fix things mechanically, I think those days are well behind , but I still see myself in the “daddy role” and able to solve all of my kids problems even though they are both of AARP age.

It seems the last thing they want or need from me is my advice and instructions. As you might imagine this causes many conflicts in our family with my wife telling me to mind my own business and my kids turning up their nose at any suggestions I might have.

I kind of figure that with all the years I have had on this planet I must have learned enough to at least pass some on to my children. My psychologist corrected me and told me that they are not my children.

He referred to me with a term that I hate, as the “sperm donor.” In other words I was responsible for getting them here and the rest is up to them. Try telling that to a “man from Mars” and see what that gets you. I try to reflect back to when I was in my 50s and what my relationship to my parents was at that time. I don’t recall ever asking them for help or assistance or advice and yet we got along perfectly well.

As a matter of fact, I really think I had the best parents that it was possible to have. Perhaps this is because they never told me what to do or how to do it.

Okay, I am learning my lesson and trying hard to be just a good old fashioned daddy, but it’s not as easy as you may think. When you see your creations having difficulty in any part of their life — financial, emotional, relationship — you simply want to jump in and fix everything, and frankly even with all the tools in my garage I am unable to do this.

The advice given to me by several professional people as well as other family members is to try to be a good listener, let them unload on you whenever they need to, and encourage them anyway that you can and hope for the best.

I will let you know how this works.

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