The book “Walking On Eggshells: Navigating the Delicate Relationship Between Adult Children and Parents” is written in the view point of the parent. The author of this book, Jane Isay, did her research and interview about seventy five people in total. Her goal was to hit as many different dynamics between the adult child and the parents as possible.
Her goal was not to find the perfect relationships, but to find the real relationships. Her book consists of short stories from her interviewees. To start off her book she begins with her life when she was pregnant. She had a job, freedom, and a husband who loved her. She was the envy of the wives in her university town, she had freedom to work, but her husband made it clear that it was all about to change. Jane then outlines on how we think our role as parents is. To watch our kids grow up, go off to college, get careers, and fall in love. She then slowly pulls out and story time begins.
The first story is about a mother and her son. The son proposes to his girlfriend and while his mother is on a visit he confides in his mother that he does not know if Jamie, his fiancee, is for him. His mother tells him the Jamie fits him so well; however their conversation was overheard by Jamie’s sister and was misinterpreted. In the end a war began with Teresa and her son. It is a war that has turned Teresa’s son and Jamie against her. Another story that is found a little later on in the book is one of acceptance and realizing that someone has always been there.
This story is about Gary, he is a homosexual man who had always had a more of an affectionate and tender with his mother. The problem though started when Gary ‘came out of the closet’ to his parents. It became painfully aware to Gary that his mother did not approve and his mother said his father did not approve either. Though that could have been the end of the story, it was not. Gary’s father reached out and suggested that all of them go out to dinner. Just with one simple action, Gary’s father turned the tables and made Gary look back on his childhood. Gary then realized that his father had been there whenever he had needed him.
All’s it took was Gary’s father to do is one simple act of acceptance. One of the next section is entitled ‘Gotta Go’ and this really uses a great example on how when our children are learning to walk, they take the first step away from us, but immediately they are unsure and when they turn to throw themselves back at us we watch them fall. This really concentrates on adult children in their early twenties, which as parents we want to be there for them, but we also realize that they are making a life for themselves and that requires them to learn some difficult lessons that will most likely hurt them in some way.
There are many more stories that hold many more lessons for both the parents and their adult children in the book. Most are one that we think are common sense, but in the time that these even occur we forget to put ourselves in their shoes. We forget to think of how this must be for them. The one particular aspect that I am grateful to Jane Isay for is defining with all of her examples. There are many types of relationships between parents and their children. Some relationships seem negative and that they are not going to get better, but when both put forth the effort then we can grow together.
Our relationships are not going to be the same as they were when we were actual children. The only thing we can do is put forth the effort as collaboration to redefine our relationship. Personal Reaction The purpose of reading this book was not really to see how I would feel in the situation, but more to see how my mum feels now that she does not have her children in the nest. I was the last to fly the coop and I know that realistically I am not the average child that only talks to their mother maybe once or twice a week.
I talk to my mum daily and I doubt that I could go more than a few days without talking to her. Especially after completing this book I understand on how things can be difficult for her. During the next ten years of my life I am supposedly going to test my parents’ limits according to this book, but I am pretty sure I already have done that. The book says that I am going to teach my mom to let go, however I am pretty sure no one in the world could get that lesson through my mother’s skull.
My mom has always been extremely involved in almost every aspect of my life, so the fact that the books says that through my actions I will be teaching my mother to let go, that is a difficult concept for me to grasp personally. I know that I was a major pain growing up and that I tested my parents sanities, mainly my moms, but in the past twenty years of my life I haven’t been able to push her away, so how will the next ten years make a difference? Most self help books I glanced at were all the same when it came to straight forward, this is what you need to do.
They were really dull, and after finding this I really enjoyed how the book was set up into just a lengthy ‘story time. ’ By choosing not to just talk at the reader and choosing the stories it made the book more acceptable to more people in my opinion. It is showing that other people are going through those exact moments that you and your parents are going through. It is not sugar coating it either; these are really events and experiences that have impacted peoples’ lives. We are learning through their stories. There are numerous stories for us to pick our ways through to see which one relates to us and our own situation the most.
The first story is actually very similar to something that has happened n my own life. It took me back to when my mother and my sister-in-law were feuding. Teresa the woman who told this story actually is the same as my mother and her words were twisted into something ugly. Unfortunately a similar situation hit my life back freshman year of college; it was definitely something I could have gone my whole life without having to hear and be a part of. The first story really took me off guard to how close it would hit home for me personally.
There is this one particular quote that really just irks me, “They don’t want it. They don’t hear it. They resent it. Don’t give it. ” To me that is extremely harsh. That is not true with most of the people I know. At the end of the day I look toward my mother for advice or in general just to have someone put their input in on how I dealt with things. From time to time people do not want advice but that’s not really how it works when all the time with our parents. The main thing that I learned though through reading this book is that just like any other relationship communication is the key.
Since I actually bought this book, I intend to give it to my mother because I know when it comes to my other siblings she sometimes feels like others just have it figured out and she is left to figure out what to do next all by herself. I think it would be an excellent thing for her to know that other people are going and have gone through what she is going through. Hopefully she will be able to gather some insight to see that by letting go of us, her four children, she is not losing us, but more as if she is gaining a new chapter in our relationships that is completely open to any possibility.