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Celebrating Mother’s Day with Your Adult Children

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Celebrating Mother’s Day with Your Adult Children

Kids of all ages are planning ways to celebrate and honor their moms again this year on Mother’s Day, as mothers await with anticipation the flowers, phone calls, gifts and cards that show them love, respect and appreciation. It’s a heartwarming and deeply personal holiday as each child tries to let his or her mom know and feel how very special she is.

Yet, tensions can also build up around this day–tensions that arise because families are not always in perfect harmony and relationships between parents and their adult children are strained. This year, why not make an extra effort to ensure that Mother’s Day will be special for both you and your adult children?


– Spoil it by having too many expectations. Your adult children have lives of their own, often filled with time restraints and responsibilities with their own children. They don’t know specifically what would make you feel loved and respected on this particular day. So rather than expecting them to meet a standard you’ve set up for them, let go and allow them to surprise you with their own way of honoring you.

– Make your children feel guilty by saying such things as, “When am I going to have grandchildren?” or “Why don’t you visit me more often?” I once had a therapy client whose mother commanded her to appear for holidays. My client attended begrudgingly, but the feelings she had of being forced to be with her mother permeated the atmosphere and led to unpleasantness rather than celebration. Guilt rarely produces feelings of warmth and tenderness and may cause your children to prefer to stay away from you.

– Make your adult children feel obligated to you. If you play the martyr and expect them to fawn over you, you may be disappointed. Holding back on your subtle but manipulative demands gives them the opportunity to give to you genuinely–out of the goodness of their hearts, with sincere love and caring.

– Criticize, judge or lecture your kids. They don’t need to hear how they should be raising their children or that they’re making bad career choices, spending too much money or gaining too much weight. Throwing out careless or critical comments in the midst of a family celebration will turn the entire atmosphere sour.

Rather than sitting back and depending on your children to fulfill your day, take charge of it yourself. Expand your view of Mother’s Day by acknowledging your membership in the world’s largest private club: motherhood. Get in touch with the real meaning of Mother’s Day by including mothers everywhere in your celebration.

Here are some tips for making it a great day of love and appreciation–not only for you but for others as well.

Next: 7 things you should do on Mother’s Day

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Joanne Stern

Joanne Stern, PhD, is a psychotherapist with a private practice emphasizing counseling with families, parents, couples and teens. She’s a teacher, consultant, speaker, and expert guest on parenting and family topics, including communication, discipline, self-esteem, addictions, eating disorders, grief, and loss. Parenting Is a Contact Sport: 8 Ways to Stay Connected to Your Kids for Life is her first book. A mother and grandmother, she and her husband, Terry Hale, live in Aspen, Colorado.


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8:48AM PDT on Oct 26, 2011

I don't expect flowers or gifts, but to be remembered, just a card and a phone call. I hate birthdays, Christmas & MD. My oldest son(37) called me on my BD, but I never heard from the two youngest (25 & 28). The 28 yo said he forgot....he did not forget his father's BD (we r divorced).

12:06PM PDT on Jun 6, 2010

Thank you. I love my mum :)

4:14PM PDT on May 23, 2010

We didn't need a list of do's and don'ts in our family. I guess we were just lucky. All days, including Mother's Day, were just spent with us being ourselves. Our interactions were just easy and wrapped in love. I cherish every single memory I have of my mother - and my father. I was very, very lucky.

By the way, I LOVE the photo that goes with this article. You can tell this is mother and daughter. That touches my heart so much. Even though my mother and I did not look much alike, so many people used to say that we were like "two little twins". In many, many ways we were.

5:44PM PDT on May 22, 2010

Well we were busy like any other day, I did get her a silver medallion of the Eucharist though which she later lost

12:25PM PDT on May 14, 2010

Truly beautiful and wise. My country celebrates Mothers' day on May 26th. Still some time to prepare myself to cherish this day with my mum.

10:59AM PDT on May 14, 2010

Mother's Day is a great holiday. I'm just now considering starting a family of my own, and this year I saw Mother's Day in a whole new way. Mother's go through a lot for their children, and it's nice to have at least one day a year to step back and reflect the magnitude of that relationship!

9:37AM PDT on May 10, 2010


7:26PM PDT on May 9, 2010

Good things to think about! I did luckily hav a great Mothers day.My youngist grandchild 13years,was bringing me breakfast in bed with my hubby :) Got flowers from the other grandchildren too(they are grown-up youmg men) we were eating together and 13y.sweetheart,she made the cake

5:33PM PDT on May 9, 2010

Very sensible and a great bunch of hints. Children and moms take heed!

1:28PM PDT on May 9, 2010

I am the mother of an 18 (nearly 19) and a 14 yr old, both girls. I just appreciate them for who they are, I don't expect anything of them but unconditional love just as I give them.

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