When Adult Stepchildren Stop Coming Over
By Claudette Chenevert
Have you ever felt as if your adult stepchildren have been ignoring you lately? It seems that whenever you call and leave a message, it takes forever to hear back from them. You’ve tried texting and messaging in hopes this will work better but to no avail. You start wondering if you might have said or done something which might have pushed your adult stepchildren away. They are no longer coming over.
If your relationship with your family was a close-knit one, it might be hard for you to understand why your stepchildren aren’t spending all their available time with you. Maybe, you were hoping that once your stepchildren were married and had children of their own, you’d be recreating some of your fond memories of Sunday get-togethers where all the grandkids would build lasting friendships with one another.
Unfortunately, many of today’s family don’t quite fit that model of Norman Rockwell moments. For one, according to AARP.org, families are more spread out, and when they do spend time together, it’s mostly over holidays or special events. For adult stepchildren, family time is even more challenging as they have more sets of parents. This means for today’s couples, they could have as many as four difference parental homes to choose from.
Let’s look at some of the possible reasons your adult stepchildren aren't coming over.
1. They’re busy.
Yes! That would be the most obvious reason for not coming over for a visit. With most families being a double income household, there’s little time left for socializing. Children are into several after-school activities, leaving very little time to do other things like visiting family and coming over.
Solution: Offer to bring over dinner one night or take care of the kids for a day. This will help the parents catch their breaths and reconnect as a couple.
2. They’re often at their in-laws.
Let’s assume that your adult stepchildren take more time to go to their in-laws rather than your home. That can sting our ego. There could be a variety of reasons such as the grandkids get to spend time with their cousins, it’s closer to their home, they have a pool, etc.
Solution: You are not alone. Try to spend time with your stepchild’s partner and get to know them better. Pick a time of year where there’s not much going on in everyone’s lives. Be creative and invite your stepchildren’s in-laws to join you.
3. They spend more time with their other parent.
Research has shown that daughters will tend to spend more time with their mothers, especially when they become parents. This leaves dad and his wife on the outskirts of the family circle.
Solution: Offer to go to a neutral place where everyone is welcome to participate in the activities. Restaurants are often a good compromise. You may have no interest in being a part of any activities the exe attends, instead focus on the opportunity to see those you enjoy spending time with.
4. They rarely share any information about their lives.
You feel as if they’re shutting you out of their lives, being secretive about their activities. Your stepkids feel you’re meddling in their affairs by asking too many questions. The only way you know about their lives is through social media.
Solution: Don’t offer unsolicited advice. It will only push them away. And when your stepchildren do ask for it, don’t insist they follow through with your suggestions. Give them the space to make their own decisions. Maybe your stepchildren feel they need to show you how they can be better than their parents. Don’t take it personally. Sometimes, adults just need to spread their wings and feel proud of their own accomplishments.
5. They don’t accept our invitations.
This could be a case of estrangement where the adult stepchildren refuse to have any contact with you or their biological parent. Estrangement occurs when there are unresolvable issues such as mismatched expectations around family values or roles. In some cases, the adult child will continue to occasionally see their parent during special events but not outside of this. Estrangement happens over time. There are no clear boundaries as how often you can communicate or spend time together.
Solution: This is where professional intervention is needed. Start small and then increase your time together gradually. Regain the trust between each other.
There are many reasons adult stepchildren may not be spending time with you. Interpreting the situation without taking the time to ask the questions can create rifts in the relationship where none existed before. Be upfront and open about how you’re feeling without being pushy. Let your adult stepchildren know that you’d love to spend more time with them while understanding that they too have very busy lives