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Shifting Family Relationships

Posted Jan 14 2009 5:01pm

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Family relationships continuously change — even if we wish they wouldn’t. Normal changes in good, healthy relationships still cause stress, especially if you are someone like me who sometimes fights the inevitable.

Of course, when I really tell the truth, I want the good times to last forever and the bad times to pass quickly.

If you struggle with the relationship with your mother, it may be helpful to understand how the Mom of a grown daughter views these changes.
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My daughter and I were best buddies about 12 years ago. She had finished college and was living nearby. We both had professional services businesses. We were cross-referring. We participated in some of the same business networks. We went shopping together, and in general, we both enjoyed our relationship.

Then she decided it was time to settle down. She found a wonderful man, started dating seriously and within a year or so they were married. They lived a few miles away and when she told us that she was pregnant we were thrilled.

Before this wonderful period in our relationship she was in college. She stayed away from her parents as much as she could. She came home one weekend, and while we were sitting in the hot tub together she poured her heart out to me, telling me things she hadn’t told me since she was a little girl.

I thought, oh good, now we can get back together again. She’s finished with the adolescent pushing away to prove her independence.

She went back to school and two days later I got a copy of an Ann Landers’s column in the mail saying that grown-up children shouldn’t be too close to their parents. Essentially “Don’t call me, I’ll call you.” I felt like laughing and crying at the same time.

I knew what was happening. Relationships are a dance, and we got too close for her comfort so she pulled away. The distance was close enough for my comfort, but that didn’t matter; she pulled away anyway.

All relationships are like dancing. We move close to each other and we pull away again. And sometimes when one wants to move closer the other wants to move away.

A year or so after she got married she said to me, “You know, Mom, you used to be my best friend, but now my husband is my best friend.” That’s the way it’s supposed to be.

Now, 10 years and four wonderful grandchildren later, our relationship continues to wax and wane. And I have four more relationships that keep changing as well. As they moved from city to city, sometimes she and I were close and sometimes we struggled.

Last summer they moved to France. Now our relationship is mostly on Skype* on weekend mornings. I’m grateful that we are both committed to letting her boys stay connected to me over the distance.

Her husband continues to be her best friend. They still have a wonderful relationship that also changes over time.

If you would like to learn more about my side of this evolving relationship, read the March, August and October entries at http://www.idontneedtherapy.com/blog .

*Skype is a fabulous computer program. We can call each other and see each other in real time. I’m an addict and she’s in control of my fix, because she lets the children come and talk to me. She goes off and does something else and the children will sit in front of the computer and connect with me. Even the three-year-old will do it for a minute or two. We talk to each other, make faces, tell riddles and play finger games. It’s not as good as frequent hugs, but the whole point is that relationships change.

Technorati Tags: Communication, Relationships


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