As we grow older, life transitions emerge. One is retirement. Another, if you have children, is your children becoming adults and your relationships evolving. Writer Celia Dodd has published insightful books on many of these life transitions, including retirement and becoming empty nesters. Her new book is All Grown Up: Nurturing Relationships with Adult Children.
Celia Dodd joins us from London.
Celia Dodd is a journalist and author who wrote regularly for The Times, the Independent and other national newspapers and magazines, focussing on relationships, family life, health and education. She also wrote celebrity profiles, including Gordon Ramsay, Lou Reed and Juliet Stevenson.
After thirty years as a journalist she turned to writing books about parenting and major transitions in life, such as the empty nest and retirement. They are subjects close to her heart as well as her own stage in life. She recently produced a Retirement Planning Toolkit and webinar for Hampshire Police Force, and works with other organisations on retirement planning.
Her four books are: All Grown Up: Nurturing relationships with adult children; Not Fade Away: How to thrive in retirement; The Empty Nest: Your changing family, your new direction; and Conversations with Mothers and Daughters.
Celia has two sons and a daughter in their thirties, and four grandchildren. Her kids all boomeranged in and out of home in their twenties, but her nest in London is finally empty – apart from her husband, a molecular biologist.
For more on Celia Dodd
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“So I think it’s much more helpful rather than just thinking about your children have got to be independent to see it as a sort of ongoing thing and something that happens quite gradually. And also for parents to think about their own independence. I think that’s the flip side. Children can’t really be independent unless we let them go, unless we develop our own fuller lives beyond the family. So I think that’s quite an important thing to think about. I heard a Buddhist monk once say the greatest gift you can give your child is to be happy yourself. And I think that’s quite a good thing to bear in mind, but at the same time, of course, there’s the old saying you’re only ever as happy as your least happy child. So you’ve got that kind of conundrum always to try and sort out.”
“…you are changing all the time and you, your identity, is changing all the time. And you have to keep adapting. And that’s the key to success….Be prepared to keep adapting and just to realize that things never stay the same.”
On Being Focused on the Present
“You have to be prepared to question your own views. It really comes down to empathy and to being able to put yourself in your adult child’s shoes. We are all guilty of saying, oh, when I was your age…, That is really not helpful, I don’t think. And probably quite annoying. I think it’s much more helpful to think about what it’s like to be 35 now, not what it was like to be 35 when you were 35. I think also that the people that negotiate these difficult transitions the best feel quite secure in their relationship with their children. They know that there will be crises and big changes, but they feel that at the bottom of it all, the relationship is solid and it will continue.”
“…retirement is such an individual thing and everyone finds different things difficult, but I think an awful lot of people don’t expect to find the loss of status difficult. A lot of people say, oh, no, no, I don’t care about that. That’s not going to bother me. But of course it does, because whatever job you do, whether you are a CEO or you sweep the road, what you do is part of your life, a huge part of your life. And it’s part of who you are. Another thing, which sounds rather strange, and certainly I found it strange when people I interviewed said it to me, was they missed doing things that they didn’t look forward to. And they hadn’t expected to miss that. So they really missed having to stand in front [and] address a meeting or whatever it happened to be. They missed not having to get out of their comfort zone. And that really interested me because, of course, none of us want the Sunday evening blues, but we do want the Friday night.”
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Joe is the author of Win the Retirement Game: How to Outsmart the 9 Forces Trying to Steal Your Joy coming this summer.
Intro and Outro voiceovers by Ross Huguet.