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Parenting goes on, even when kids are grown

Dear Readers: A recent column about a woman who was tired of caring for a pregnant daughter who was confined to bed prompted mail from other older people who feel "used" by their grown children.

It seems a lot of us grandparent-age folks have discovered a funny thing about parenting: We are never really off the hook - even when our kids are grown with kids of their own.When babies are born they become the center of our lives and we vow to make their lives easy. Then they get bigger and so do their problems.

They hit the teens (or the teens hit them), and we face concerns about sexual conduct, drugs and driving. But this will end, we assure one another. They'll soon fly from the nest, and then we're going to take life easy.

Wrong again. Adult kids still come back to Mom and Dad when the road gets bumpy.

By the time they marry, we're convinced we're off the hook. Truth is we never are - as these letters suggest:

Dear Lois: Three years ago during a holiday visit, I noticed my daughter took out her stress on me.

She would fly into tirades (her anger aimed at me) in front of my son-in-law and grandchildren, who told me: "You know how momma gets."

I told my daughter I simply would not fly to visit during the holidays anymore. She kept saying, "Oh, yeah, you always say that, but you're always back. You know I love you. It's just that you drive me nuts sometimes."

I swallowed deeply. I vowed never to return for an extended visit (several days at a time) or even an overnight as long as I had other friends in the community with whom I could stay. My heart broke, but I decided since it was my heart, I'd better tend to it.

Now I visit (briefly), and my daughter can come to me at a friend's, if she chooses. Or she can sit home and pout.

Over the years I reared three kids alone with no child support. I listened to their constant moaning. I heard how they'd never felt "loved" because I was either teaching school or going to school and had little time.

AHEM. Pardon me. I'm glad my children have good marriages,but I also am sorry they have the status and time to be so disappointingly whiny!

- C.V.M.

Dear C.V.M.: Life is not supposed to be hard for our grown children or anyone else, but we all have to cope with its stresses and disappointments.

Do our grown-up kids think they are the first generation to cope with parents? Do our grown kids have to express their negative feelings for all to hear? Would we have spoken this way to our parents? Is there a grandmother or grandfather out there who can ever remember telling his or her mother or father that he or she "drives me nuts"?

Maybe it's time to hold our grown children to that higher standard.

Dear Lois: About that mother whose daughter expected her to come over since she is confined to bed - no mention was made of the child's father. Why can't he prepare meals when he comes home from work?

Thousands of working women in this country come home after a full day of work to prepare meals, do laundry, help with homework, etc. It's wonderful for people to help out when there is a true need. But resentment can grow if the help is given because hubby is too tired or feels he shouldn't have to cook.

- Lynn H., Tampa, Fla.

Dear Lynn: A lot of women expressed your view. Strangely, not one man responded. Not a single man said he thought it was a husband's responsibility, not a mom's.

Certainly there are many modern dads who help out with cooking, cleaning and tending kids who would shine in this situation. Maybe some will weigh in on this one.