'I Retired, My Kids Didn't' — A Dad Explains Why It's A Parent's Job To Make Their Visits Less Stressful On Adult Kids

Visits from the parents have long been a source of frustration. One dad is determined to change that.

Grandparents playing with their granddaughter while mother focuses Peopleimages.com - YuriArcurs / Canva

Visits from their older parents, and especially their in-laws, have been a tried-and-true way to drive a person crazy for generations. There's a whole film and TV trope about it, after all. 

But as times have changed, many young adults are feeling more assertive when it comes to setting boundaries with their parents, especially if they are parents themselves. One older dad on TikTok feels this is exactly as it should be. 


The dad says it's a parent's job to make their visits less stressful on adult kids, and lots of people online agree.

Bill, a father and retiree known as @bill_retired on TikTok, recently posted his thoughts about how he tries to make visits to his adult kids, who live across country from him, run as smoothly as possible.

It all starts with being as unobtrusive as possible by taking a different approach than many of us might be used to — because, as he put it, "my kids did not retire with me."



RELATED: Therapist's Accidental 'Social Experiment' Reveals The Difference Between Millennial & Boomer Parents


Bill structures his visits to his adult kids as if he lived nearby instead of across the country. 

"I decided early in my retirement that I was going to spend significant effort getting out to see my kids on the other side of the country at least ten times a year," he said in his video. That's a lot of visits, of course, which in most cases means a lot of extra work for his kids.

After all, usually a family visit includes not only putting them up in your house and all the extra chores that entails, but also keeping them fed and entertained. There's a reason Ben Franklin famously said, "Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days." Especially when you've got kids of your own, having a parent visit can frequently start to feel like way too much



"They've got jobs, family, they've got their own lives going over there," Bill said. "So whenever I go out, I try and treat it just like how I would visit if they were local." That means booking his own accommodations, taking care of his own airport transportation, and whatever else he can do to make his visit as unobtrusive as possible.


"I don't want them to have to turn it into this big event when I come and visit," he said. "I want them to be able to enjoy me visiting without it becoming sort of a bother."

He was quick to clarify that his kids have never made him feel like a bother, which is precisely why he goes the extra mile to make his visits easy on them. "They're very gracious when I come," he said, "and I'd like to keep it that way."

RELATED: Grandmother Of 11 Hosts Week-Long Summer Camp With Homemade Trophies & Activities — 'They Never Want To Leave'

Bill got so many responses that he compiled them into 5 tips for how parents can make their visits less stressful on their adult kids.

Bill's approach is definitely not the norm when it comes to parents' and in-laws' visits, but it certainly struck a nerve. He said he received more than 500 responses from people sharing what their parents do or don't do on their visits that either make or break them.


RELATED: Parents Upset Grandparents Took 8-Month Old On 6-Hour Road Trip Without Warning

After some careful thought, he was able to distill them down to five helpful hints for other parents with adult kids.

The first tip is probably the most important. People said they need their parents to not make them play host when they come to visit, but instead fall into the rhythm they've already established. Especially if they have kids, visits from an overbearing grandma and grandpa can be super disruptive to not just the parents' but the children as well.


"They're in the busiest time of their lives," Bill said of his adult kids, "and it's easy for us to forget how busy we were when we were that age."

The second tip Bill had was for parents to actually help their kids out around the house and assist with their grandkids, from doing yard work to helping with cooking — "all the stuff that is so hard for our adult kids to do on a regular basis because they're all working so much now," as he put it.

Bill's third and fourth tips will surely resonate with nearly all of us: don't make your adult kids use their vacation time for you, and don't make them feel guilty if they have to work while you're visiting. "If we can come during the week and we can sort of stay out of their hair while they're working, that's great for everybody," Bill said.


And speaking of good ol' Ben Franklin, Bill's fifth tip is precisely what he was driving at: keep it short! "I heard a lot of people say a few days is a great duration for a visit from retired parents," he said.

Bill is definitely onto something with his approach, especially in these times of widespread exhaustion in working parents. A 2022 Ohio State University study found that a staggering 66% of working parents are totally burned out by the demands of their lives.

So, grandma and grandpas of the world, grab an Airbnb, wash a few dishes or do a school run if you can, and keep the vists as easy and breezy as possible. That way, instead of figuring out how to manage the stress of houseguests, everyone can spend their time making family memories.

RELATED: Mom Issues 'PSA' To 'Manipulative' Grandparents Who Think They're 'The Center Of The Universe'


John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice and human interest topics.