Having fun with our kids is like a slice of pie. Think about a pie not as a fruit pie, but as a pie of life with slices that define different, slices of family life. One slice is childhood, the next slice is the parenting years, followed by the early adult slice and the largest slice is the empty nest years.
If we live out our average life expectancy, we will spend twice as many years as adults together with our children, than when they were living at home with us. When a group of my friends got together we talked about our relationships with our parents. Some of us got along well with them, others did not. When we probed the reasons, it had a lot to do with parenting patterns developed during childhood.
In other words, how we parent our young kids might shape our relationship with them when they grow up. We figured out that the ones who wanted to be friends as adults and spend time together, not out of obligation but, because they enjoyed each other and had moms who included fun as one of their family values. They seemed to be the moms who adult children wanted to spend time with for all the right reasons.
You might be asking yourself what does fun look like? Just look around you and watch other fun families. You’ll notice they can have fun and be fun even in unlikely places. Like the grocery store or waiting in line at the DMV. Fun is an attitude as much as an activity. And to have fun, we have to be fun, which means lightening up.
Throughout the years, the activities changed. We went from having fun with preschoolers which was fairly simple. They loved to play and loved the attention they got when we did almost anything together. When our kids got older, their fun included their friends, which meant stretching the family circle to make those friends feel welcome in our homes. We agreed that parenting includes the responsibility to shape appropriate fun as kids grow up, which was easier when their friends gathered at our houses.
The best advice offered was to learn to let go of our own expectations and stop trying to Besides, our best and most humorous family memories often came out of those unexpected out comes. Friendships with our adult children evolve as slowly as our parenting bumped and bounced from controlling to influencing to simply encouraging and enjoying.
The fun we have along the way is not so much about doing things, as about being in relationships that allowed for growth and embraced our differences. It’s been said, that being friends and having fun with our adult children is the best slice of the pie of life!