I was talking with my parents the other day about this idea of not using guilt in our relationships, especially the relationships between parents and grown children.
My mom, who happened to be in a hospital bed at the moment with wicked bronchitis, perked up when the topic of parents using guilt arose.
She gathered what little breath she had and said:
"Tell parents to especially not use guilt around the holidays! Make sure that they know to let go of traditions when necessary and to not demand that their grown kids show up when they always have shown up in the past. Let your grown kids know that you would LOVE to have them for Christmas (or Easter, or Thanksgiving, or Groundhog Day) but that if they can't make it this year, or if they can only come for a few hours, or part of a day ... that is JUST FINE!"
She said she had watched many parents her age use guilt especially around holiday gatherings and she thought it was so destructive.
I can testify to the fact that my parents have never used guilt or manipulation to try to get us to spend time with them.
Even around the holidays.
One Thanksgiving when all the rest of our family traveled to Chicago for our annual big turkey day celebration, my folks had to stay home because my mom had just had a hip replacement. They happily bid us farewell, ordered a full Thanksgiving meal from Hy-Vee and settled in for a great weekend of feasting and watching old movies. They couldn't have been happier and more content.
Don't use guilt around the holidays ...
It will always backfire ...
Give your grown children the freedom to decide when, where and how to celebrate as they become adults.
My bet is, if you offer them grace-filled freedom, they will very often find their way home!