Many traditions disappeared with the last century yet New Year’s Resolutions continue. One teenager thinks today’s resolutions are more self-serving (exercising regularly, losing weight) than focusing on others. Perhaps. An octogenarian recalls her teenage resolutions like giving up candy didn’t last very long. But she says that her resolution to be nicer to and spend more time with her widowed grandmother who lived with her family sticks in her mind as lasting.
When talking about resolutions that involve family as opposed to self, my small sample of older people (from Arizona, Delaware, New York, and Oregon) care deeply about their children and grandchldren and are making–or have made–resolutions to further cement the relationship.
For example, resolutions to “live with” family situations and values that upset the older generation prevail:
“I will try to accept what my grandchildren and children do. (I must learn to accept it ’cause there’s nothing I can do about it.”)
“I’m going to try not to be judgmental, especially in ‘dicey’ family situations we have no control over.”
“I’m going to try and figure out how to take a “stand” that would work and not destroy family relations.”
“I speak for myself and other friends–we’ve just been discussing values. I’m making a resolution not to get upset by the fact that adult children may be wonderful; but they don’t value the same material things we do…old family heirloom-type things: furniture that’s been in the family, a cup collection from my grandmother, my great-grandmother’s Christmas tree ornament etc.”
Other resolutions involve family in a different way:
“I’m going to tidy up this year. If I die I’d hate for my kids to come in and have to clean up all the stuff I’ve accumulated over the years.”
“I’m going to make it a point to listen more, to find out more about my far-away-living grandchildren and what they’re doing. I visited at Christmas, listened to their music with them, discussed the lyrics, learned who Taylor Swift is and what’s important in their lives. I even learned about hockey and watched a game. My grandchild is a star hockey player. Now we have a commonality to email about and discuss.”
“I am going to accept the fact that my far-away living son and family are very busy with their own lives. While they’re at the top of my priority list, I know my husband and I are not at the top of theirs even though we all get along very well. So if we want to be with them more often than twice a year, we have to make the accommodations.”
“I want to maintain my health (I’m 92) so I can be around to see my great-grandchildren develop; and I want to keep working at my business.”
One admittedly “very opinionated” grandmother says “This is a big stretch for me, it’s so unlike me not to say anything, but I made a resolution years ago–I have many children and grandchildren–and it has worked to keep our family together. It goes like this:
Whatever they do is fine.
Whatever they say is fine.
Whatever they want is fine.”
It seems adult children and grandchildren, whether living near or far, live large in their parents’ and grandparents’ minds, perhaps even beyond what we might expect. A 92-year-old puts keeping herself in good health because she wants to watch her great-grandchildren “develop” ahead of continuing to run her successful business. That says a lot. Is a New Year’s resolution by adult children and grandchildren to make the effort and regularly communicate with and include the older generation in order?