Navigating Family Relationships Over 50

I flew away last week to take seven days of vacation from work.  I use the word “vacation” loosely because I have not returned rested and refreshed, but fried! I went to help my high-school-teacher-daughter as she returned to work to prepare for the school year.  I was in charge of my 6 and 4 year old grandsons and for one evening the 1 year old baby as well.  All boys…all active…and this Gigi is exhausted.  But, thoroughly enjoyed the time just to love on them.

I also helped with organizing some of the house and doing mass quantities of laundry and dishes…but my goal was to leave her in a better place as they begin school.  I have three adult children…my daughter and her family of 5; my son and his family of four; and my youngest son who is a busy young professional.  They all are amazing, but I will confess learning to transition from a very involved mom to the sidelines has not been easy for me.  It is constantly a work in progress to know when to speak, when not to speak, when to help and when not to help.  I am getting better about withholding unrequested advice…but it can really be difficult.  So, here is what I did this week:

  1. Tried not to find all that I think needs improvement and to focus on all that I believe is right.
  2. Took time each day to remember where my family of five was in the early days.  We also were overcome with our young children and the house and the routines and were often stressed.  But, we made it through and all still love each other.
  3. Most of you know my faith is important to me, so I began each day with prayer and praise music and said this Bible verse over and over again in my mind, “Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.”  A great life lesson.  Listening means being all there and paying attention with our hearts and not just our heads.
  4. I gave advice only when I believed it affected the children’s health. Otherwise, I withheld.

Like I said, I am a work in progress of navigating these fine lines.  But, I want to be welcome in my children’s homes and not dreaded.  It is important to me that my grandchildren look forward to having Gigi around.  When we were young, struggling parents, I dreaded visits from parents and in-laws because I was always told what I did wrong and never right.  Just once, it would have been nice to hear, “You are a good mom.”  My daughter is a great mom to her boys and the smiles reflect it.

Ok, she may be mad at me that you can see the crayon on the door in the rear….but honestly, that is part of the joy….an artistic home where crayons live!  It was a wonderful week.

But, as I said I am beyond exhaustion.  So I am not sure what this week will look like for blogging.  I will do my best to bring you some great content and interesting products.  My daughter and I went shopping and the autumn decor is hitting the shelves so that is my slide show today.  Texas is in an excessive heat wave so I feel cooler when I am least Dreaming of Autumn.  Plus, planning ahead is a good thing!

Has anyone else experienced difficulty with the transition from mom to sideline mom to grandmother….all advice welcome here!

KEEP SMILING, EVERYONE…and please stay cool!!


  1. I know just how you feel! My daughter-in-law and 2 grandchildren (6 and 3) have just left after a week’s holiday with Nana and Papy (my husband and I) I’m thouroughly exhausted, but full of love and wonderful memories. Like you, I never give advice unless asked, never pass a remark that might be hurtful, and never , ever, go against what my son and his wife say to their children. It’s not easy, but I really think it’s the only way for them to be happy in our home, and for us to be always welcome in theirs. I am blessed with a wonderful family, so it’s worth every effort!! I really enjoy your blog, Pamela, always very interesting, your wisdom and kindness are very refreshing. Best wishes, Gillian

  2. Navigating Relationships with our married children and their families is a learning process. Early on I learned
    What I called “The Rules”. My visits are great. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  3. I love this post! It is truly hard to keep quiet when you notice things and also think you know a better way! I have blown it, but thankfully the bond with my adult sons is rock solid and they forgive me my occasional missteps!! I have one son who lives locally with his wife and no children, just exotic pets that I stay with when they travel. My oldest son lives in New York about 3 hours away with his wife and they have three teenage sons, actually my oldest grandson is now 20! I have blown it when they dared to discipline the boys in front of me ?. I always apologize for butting in, always. I have done much better lately because like you, the relationships are so important to me and I want them to look forward to the visits. My three grandsons love it when I’m visiting, even as teenagers and a young adult, they stay home and hang out with me. I am beyond thankful for this. My faith is huge to me, and because of that I want to be an example of behavior befitting that commitment. That does often mean keeping quiet! Your trip does sound like a whirlwind of activity, but well worth it! The memories we make far outweigh our ability to keep up with the little ones! Your daughter has a lot on her plate with being a teacher. My neighbor is a teacher with two little girls under the age of three and I try to remind her what a remarkable mom she is juggling all that she does. What you address here is so important as our kids move through their lives!

  4. I am a stepmom as well as a mom, and even after 42 years of marriage I tread very lightly with my girls. My son and I can talk for hours. We also have adult grandkids , some of whom are making bad decisions, and I keep my mouth shut! I also had the critical mom and in-laws. My dad finally added me to his constant praising of my brothers when I was in my 50s!
    Take all the time you need to recover, but what a fun week!

  5. Thanks Jennifer…I haven’t been this drained in a long time. But it was well worth it.

  6. Thanks for sharing Maggie. It was a fun week….we danced to classic rack, built a seriously cool tent, discovered hidden pictures in dinosaurs, played in water, and on and on.

  7. It sounds like you had an amazing week! Spending time with my grandkids is the best, though I wish I could do it more often. It’s so comforting to hear others say they have had to learn to tread lightly with opinions and advice. Sometimes we think it’s only us going through transitions. This is why I love reading your blog. Makes me realize that many of us are experiencing the same things at this point in our lives. Thanks for always sharing your experiences and thoughts!
    Happy Sunday!

  8. Your post was wonderful today. Yes, it is difficult navigating ? our changing relationships with our adult children, but your words are spot-on. I too had a critical mother and an opinionated, outspoken mother-in-law; I never felt like I did anything right. My mother never gave me any praise until she was near the end of her life & I was her caregiver. My motto now is: ‘Be who you needed when you were younger’. Thanks for always sharing so honestly & generously, Pam!

  9. Absolutely love your motto, Wendy! Thanks for sharing it… I know what you have been through.

  10. Thank you for sharing what many of us older Moms who are adjusting to, a new normal….
    Your blog was wonderful!

  11. Great post Pam.
    I thought becoming a Grandma would be the hardest transition but it just seems to evolve naturally. I’m sure that will change once there is more than one grandchild to deal with.
    I totally agree and relate to your description of the changes in dealing with adult children. I too try to stay out of the way with comments and advice and am not always successful. In my personal life I want to be “that woman” of Proverbs 31: 10-31. Not sure it is attainable this side of Heaven but I feel it is a worthy goal.
    Rest up and recover. You just did a wonderful thing! ❤️

  12. Perhaps my most marked up pages in my Bible are the two with Proverbs 31. I have studied it deeply for years. Thanks so much for sharing.

  13. My rule for being a good mom, MIL, and grandma is simple—if my tongue isn’t bleeding I’m not biting it hard enough ?

  14. I have taken and taught parenting…but how to parent grownups?? No lessons there! My parents must have been frustrated with me over the years…wish I could go back and apologize…maybe being a better parent to MY adult kids is a way to?
    We learned to treat the kids as dear friends, not children….giving advice only when it’s sought.
    Remember everyone, it’s better to have a relationship than to be right! I’ve lately been a better listener when I go visit and it surely pays off.
    Grandchildren are a gift of such worth!

  15. Oh what a wonderful mom and grandmother you are!!!

    As my husband and I married late in life we were not blessed with children, but I can appreciate your post after witnessing and listening to my siblings and friends. It sounds like such a fine line as when to speak and when to remain silent.

    As I age, I certainly have a new appreciation for my mom and mother-in-law who my husband and I both miss terribly. They were great moms and grandmoms!

  16. I subscribed to you today and love it all the way from South Africa. I praise the Lord that your faith is so important to you because my faith is everything to me as well.
    Enjoy your day

  17. When my daughter married I promised my son-in-law that I would not be an intrusive, pain in the neck mother-in-law and have stuck to this. I do not drop in on them, do not give advice unless asked and get on with my own life. I am there to help if they need me. My grand-daughters are grown or almost grown and we have a wonderful relationship. I think my daughter is a much more involved mother than I was and I am so blessed to have her and so are her husband and girls.

  18. Because I had a terrible non-existent relationship with my MIL, I was determined to be the MIL to my DIL that my mother was to my husband. Both my parents were the perfect examples. Because we had prayed for the woman our son would marry since he was a little boy, we knew she was the one God had for him. We have loved her like a daughter and respected her as our son’s chosen. Thankfully, we have a beautiful relationship. But, yes, keeping my mouth shut at times has always been a problem and one I work very hard to keep under control. I strive to use positive, encouraging words in stead to all our kids and grands.

  19. Thank you Pam for bringing this perfect topic. I am an older Mom (56) and my daughter is a Jr in college ( at a amazing university across the country from me) and my son is just heading to CO for college for the 1st time ( half the country from me), so I am trying to redefine my role. I want to praise them more than correct- but need to work on that new skill!!

    Love your blog btw!!!
    ❤️ Shelley

  20. Your post is sweet & interesting. Thank you for sharing your determination to love your grown children & their families encouragingly. We have a grown daughter ‘in God’s grace’; she asked us to be her parents years ago after we counselled/supported her through horrific life crisis. We love her, her grown children & her grandchildren & try to encourage her constantly. She even asks for our advice!!! Really enjoy all your blogs.

  21. Wonderful post! Your Bible verse will become my mantra when I am with my son, DIL and grandson. Thank you Pam!

  22. I just try to be a cheerleader to my young adults. There are enough people out in the world who will have negative things to say. Family should be supportive. No one wants to be around a nag, a critic or a bossy person even if you believe it is well intentioned.

  23. I loved this post, Pam. I can’t speak from being a Mom or a grandmother, because I am neither But, I can speak as a much younger sister with 4 much older sisters. I am actually 20 years younger than my oldest sister who is now 80 and I find it a balancing act to know when to speak up and offer advice and when to keep silent. Our most recent “talks” have been about my desire for her to keep an on-call emergency button that she wears around her neck and can simply push versus her idea of just using her cell phone and calling 911 if she needs help. I also worry that she doesn’t use a cane or walker consistently. It’s hard being any type of family member who loves and wants to help without being overbearing. I don’t want to be “bossy” but worry sometimes causes me to speak when I possibly shouldn’t. I’m always thought of as the “baby” sister, not a sixty year old who might be able to offer help and advice. Anyway, I enjoyed your post about making the right decisions about speaking and/or not speaking.

  24. Good for you!

    MIL was permanently banished from our lives more than a dozen years ago. We moved. She doesn’t know where we live. Now you know why I am Anon. Life is sweet!

  25. I’m so late to read this post but oh so happy to have saved it! You must have had a crystal ball into my life.
    Four adult daughters four grandchildren and a penchant for having EVERYTHING done my way. Makes for unhappiness. This transition has been and continues to be difficult. I love the previous post of “be who you needed when you were younger”. I will try it for sure. Thank you Pam for going beyond the fashion business, just at the right time.

  26. I came across your blog by chance . I have just subscribed. I love this post Absolutely spot on. I rarely post but I am so happy to read a blog directed at people a little older that is so alive Thankyou.

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