As children we usually cannot wait for our own home, our own life and our own rules. For some of us, no sooner is that goal reached, and another issue arises that we never anticipated… aging parents. As time goes on, you may find things that concern you about your parents’ lives. Perhaps they are forgetting things more often, or they become ill or injured. Your parents may even need to rely on you more often than before. If you have concerns about your parents and their lifestyle, health or mental capabilities, preparing for an honest and direct conversation can be the best approach. What follows are a few tips for when that time comes.
- Choose a good time to have the conversation. Busy kitchens at holidays aren’t the most conducive location talk about sensitive topics.
- Manage your emotions and don’t speak from anger or frustration. The more upset you are, the more reactive they will be to your emotional state.
- Come with notes. Don’t have a conversation with an aging parent without making notes about the things that concern you and what expectations or limitations you need to set with them. It will help in the moment to have a point of reference… especially if the conversation gets sidetracked.
- Allow them to comfort you. Your parents are still your parents and you’re still their child. Letting them sooth you a bit will help balance the relationship out again.
- Set appropriate boundaries. Letting family members know what your limits are for time, money or energy will help to reinforce those times when you cannot lend a hand.
Having these conversations is never easy. If you feel you need support, please reach out to a professional. A family therapist can help guide you and your family together, mediate issues that come up and provide ongoing support to changing situations. Sometimes it just takes someone not “stuck” in the family system to help find objective ways to approach problem solving. You are not in this alone.
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