6 Mindful Tips for a Better Child Parent Relationship
Watching your children grow can be so rewarding. Knowing you’ve helped develop sociable, helpful and thoughtful little human beings, who will one day grow up and become whatever they dream to be… just warms the heart. Watching your parent’s age – well, that triggers completely different emotions.
Not once did it ever cross my mind when I was a child what it would be like when Mom and Dad got older. They divorced eons ago and never remarried. Needing to think about it seemed such a long time away. I guess I never imagined them still being alone when I became an adult. I feel for them and see our relationship changing.
Mom will be turning 69 and Dad 80 this year. Both have had strokes, have heart conditions, Dad is now diabetic and both have faith in their doctor’s advice on taking several different kinds of medicines. Mom is forgetful and Dad repeats his sentences in the same conversation.
I’m experiencing a myriad of emotions watching what age brings for them – sadness, fear, grief, and anger. Even saying that out loud triggers guilt. I fear for how they will deteriorate and I well up with grief just thinking about it. I feel guilt that something can happen to them and nobody will be at their homes to help them – to support them to carry a laundry basket or use the three different converters needed to switch the TV to play a DVD.
I catch myself being angry at them for not being invincible. As their needs increase, I don’t want to add resentment to the list. I don’t want that for our relationship and hope our children won’t be like that with us.
What I do want to remind myself that they too are seeing the child-parent relationship dynamic change.
Rather than protecting myself from the emotion and risk forcing myself to love them differently, I’m choosing to be mindful of what’s happening, to learn from it and create for space in my heart for them.
Six Tips to Ease into the Transition of a New Child Parent Relationship with Less Resistance:
My Kids Are Their World – Yes they love me and my husband, but they love our boys more. They will do anything for us, even, despite argumentative protests, give us money every time they see us. Mom will call just to speak to the boys or hear their voices and the phone will never get passed to us.
They Are Scared Too – Of course they are. They see, feel, and are in tune with things in their day to day and sense themselves transitioning into unknown territory. More than likely, a similar triggered list of emotions to mine appears for them. Their emotional intelligence will be evolving so being gentler with yourself and them is essential.
They Need To Know They’re Still Needed – I’m turning 45 this year and my mother still feels the need to clean my house. It’s not because I’m messy or can’t do it, I’ve come to realize that this is one way she feels she shows her love for us. By taking one thing off our plate, she believes she’s helping. So rather than contributing to her feelings of not being wanted, I’ll ask her to help with smaller things around my house.
Have The Important Conversations Early – Talk about the inevitable early on. As much as they can think of, what do they want as part of their long term care plan? What are some must haves vs nice to haves? What documents or elements need to be put in order? If they don’t care to discuss these with you, agree to find someone who can help with the conversation and planning.
They Sense Their Independence Slipping – Driving is probably one of the biggest expressions of independence for people. When that starts to get questioned, panic can surface. Reliance on another to drive them around for necessity excursions like groceries and doctors’ appointments, or even a simple pleasurable country drive can seem like the end of the world to an aging adult. While we may be concerned for their safety or elements like defensive driving or reaction time, they see themselves becoming a burden AND fear their freedom being taken away.
Logical Step/Thinking Fades – Shorter sentences, fewer instructions, less detail – these are just three ways I’ve learned in how to best engage and communicate with older adults. They cannot seem to process complex dialogue the same way as they once could, so don’t expect them to.
I don’t have the answers for what lies ahead, so I’m asking fewer questions, listening more, and holding less expectations. I’m simply staying with what is present for the child parent relationship between me and my parents.