Being a mother, for many women, is one of the most demanding and yet rewarding experiences of their lives. As children grow into young adults and the dynamic begins to shift, the happiness and satisfaction derived from being a parent depends much on the balance of effort put into the relationship by both individuals. Research suggests that mothers who feel they are giving more than they receive are more likely to experience interpersonal stress between themselves and their adult children.
According to a recent article in The Atlantic – How to Build a Life series, studies have found that a mother’s happiness and sense of well-being increases with the number of children she has up until the fourth. Parents with children in the home have high levels of life-meaning. But as children reach adulthood, and leave the nest to begin their own lives, the well-being of mothers over the age of 40 may dwindle.
Adult children can help foster a healthy and positive relationship with their mother by taking steps, even baby steps, to become more finically independent and assume some of the adult roles in the family. Hosting Thanksgiving dinner, for example, might help lift some of the burden off the mother who has been expected to plan and execute every family celebration for decades.
Talking to your mother, and offering your emotional support, is also a hallmark of a more adult and balanced parent/child relationship. By recognizing that mothers too could use some support and a listening ear, the connection between adult child and parent is strengthened and allowed to grow.
It won’t likely happen overnight, and it may take longer for adults sons to naturally pitch in doing the dishes, but a small gesture of consideration can go a long way to boosting the matriarch’s happiness. Besides, who doesn’t want their mom to be happier?
“The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.” William James, American philosopher.