Are you hoping for some family holidays with your adult children? You should! Raising kids never ends.

Family holidays with my adult children are the best.

Parenting is a process that goes well beyond high school graduation. Maintaining a healthy relationship is always a plus.  People often ask- “How do you keep your kids coming home?”  Truth is, it is something we have thought about and focused on for years.  We have talked about it as parents. We talked about what we liked and didn’t like about “going home” at different stages of our lives.  While this is an ever-changing process, it closely looks like raising children.  

These three main ideas of what not to do are key for healthy family holidays at home, but also are true if you are meeting up with relatives, going away together or visiting you.  The simple theme is that you must remember that just as our lives change, so do theirs. They have new jobs and relationships. They are working hard and becoming interesting adults. When they are with you, they should feel a sense of calm.  It is our job when we are with them to provide comfort still as they grow.  We need not put our feelings aside, but we need to respect their stage of life and savor it.  

how to support your stressed out college kids when you visit

If I could offer one piece of advice, it would be to put yourself in your kids’ shoes. Do you remember how exhausted you were when you had your first job and worked so hard for so little? Remember how stressful change is as you move and have kids? Did you find comfort when you went home?  [Note: As you read this, please think of the word home as wherever you all are together.]


3 Things NOT To Do During Family Holidays With Adult Children

1. Do not smother them.

Sugar Water Manor farm
Getting help from Syd around the farm gives her something to do alone.

You must give them space during your family holidays.  This Idea is most likely the most frustrating thing for kids coming home. Raising kids, we should have all learned that giving them room to grow was as important as helping them learn and grow. Yes- we all miss our kids when they are not with us, but smothering them when they are with us is not what they need. Whether we are gathering at home at Sugar Water Manor, meeting up with family or even on a family vacation, we have found valuing their time and space is essential. 

Remember that they are working and volunteering; some have kids and significant others. They need downtime. There is value in giving them space. We always ask what they want when we travel to see the kids or when they are with us. We set the tone of comfort. We know how busy they are, so we let them tell us what they want to do. Smothering the kids can cause them to want to spend less time with you. There is a careful balance between being together and being too much. 

2. Do not overbook.

Fun family holidays don't have to be overbooked.
Our family holidays used to revolve around triathlons.

Do not plan too many things to do during your family holidays. Allow for downtime to just be. Whether with our kids or without them, we have found that creating time for relaxation is necessary. Most of us learn this much later in life, which can be a life lesson. When the kids come home, we get excited and want to see them as much as possible. Often we plan a lot to do. The truth is they most likely want a break. Be honest with your needs and wants and ask them what they would like. 

If they grew up in the place you are all gathering, there is a good chance they will want to see friends. If you are reading this and still have young kids at home, this is the exact reason you want to create a home where all the kids hang out.  If you are gathering at a relative’s home for the holidays, be sure there is time for the family as a larger group to be together and your immediate family. Set the expectations ahead of time. Try saying: “We are so excited that we are all spending Thanksgiving together. I just wanted to let you know we will be having dinner with our kids on Friday to catch up”. Also, work in downtime at the hotel or tell your kids it is wonderful to disappear for a bit. Be the one to set the tone and be upfront and honest about it. 

3. Do not make them feel guilty for not being home more.

My kids love to come home because I have made it a place of comfort.

This point is a big one. You can let your kids know you miss them without giving them a guilt trip. And you can step up to find a way to see them more. We make ourselves available near them and let them know we are in their area. We help them understand that we would love to get together with them but don’t make them feel obligated to see us. It isn’t easy but being flexible is key.  We must remember that, just like us, they have lives and things to do.  So we have to adult up and help them navigate this season too.  Be honest and transparent but also be real and respectful. 

We have found that creating a welcoming and warm space where they feel relaxed and respected for what they both want to do and need always creates the best environment for keeping the kids coming back.  

Check out this article to read more about how to entice adult children to visit, especially for family holidays.