Evolving Family Dynamics

Older person and teen put their arms around each other

Your relationship with your adult children is likely to be extremely important to you. You probably want to maintain a close relationship with your adult children regardless of your child’s age and the geographical distance between the two of you.

Conversely, parents remain essential to their adult children’s lives as well. The story that older people are abandoned by their adult children or seldom seen by them is largely a myth. The parent-child relationship is one of the longest-lasting social ties humans establish.

Older people and their adult children have many kinds of relationships. And like all relationships, the parent and adult child relationship will naturally ebb and flow. So, it is not surprising that parents and adult children sometimes disagree with each other.

Sources of conflict between parents and adult children:

  • lifestyle
  • finances
  • personality differences
  • frequency of contact
  • unsolicited advice
  • living arrangement

As an older parent, you may have concluded that your adult children have a right to lead their own lives, and you understand your adult child’s need to pursue their interests. A mutual respect between parent and adult child has been fostered by such understanding.

As parents and adult children age, the relationship naturally tends to become more of a supportive friendship between two equal adults. Of course, family dynamics are not always so smooth.

Like all relationships, the parent-adult-child relationship demands nurturing to remain viable and mutually satisfying.

As time passes, however, it is common for some degree of role reversal between parent and child to occur. Sometimes, these changes are welcomed by both the parent and the child. At other times, there may be resistance from one or both parties. Declining vision may have prematurely hastened role reversal and may be unwelcome. After all, the parent still wants to be treated as an adult. It may be difficult for the parent to ask for help, so an offer of assistance from the adult child may be accepted or declined. Mastering everyday living skills using adaptive techniques may alleviate some concerns for both the parent and the adult child in the event of blindness or low vision.

Another reality of demographics is the growing population of adult children over 65 who are parents and sometimes also grandparents.

The demands of multiple family generations can be considerable for adult children, known as the “sandwich generation.”

If you or your parent is experiencing declining vision, the parent-adult-child relationship may present additional challenges. However, it is important to remember that with these challenges also comes the opportunity to forge closer bonds fostered out of mutual respect and caring. You may find the information in the Family and Friends section helpful in your role as a parent or an adult child who is blind or low vision.