Do Parents Need Nurturing?
Jane Brody’s September 16, 2013 column, When Parents Need Nurturing, is a short read. Many topics she touches on are amplified in past Help! Aging Parents posts. For example, she mentions parental demands, feelings of obligation, sharing of responsibilities with or without sibling help, and the emotional component.
She offers some constructive suggestions, and a psycho-therapist’s “take” that we “can’t change what parents are going through beyond providing help and support to the best of our ability.” Then she follows up with a psychologist’s advice that adult children should “act out of love, not guilt or resentment” and “live and give within their limits.”
In a prior post we met Mitzi, who promised never to put her mother in a nursing home; ultimately had no choice; and years later couldn’t shake deep feelings of remorse and betrayal. We learned about Jean, who had a “big heart.” She ran herself ragged–as she tried to satisfy unappreciative, demanding parents who could never be satisfied–until she accepted and followed the wisdom from an older person whom she respected.
A long post focused on the residue of the early parent-child relationship decades later ((be it good or problem-ridden). Do we realize we model behavior for our children’s treatment of us in our later years when they observe how we treat our aging parents? Siblings’ involvement–or lack thereof–-as well as that of the only child’s responsibilities were the subjects of several posts.
If we weren’t proactive in the sensible ways Ms. Brody has suggested; if our relationship with our parents causes us undue stress, and we feel like we can’t go on because we’re “living and giving beyond our limits,” seeking help (from a social worker skilled in geriatrics or from a psychologist or psychiatrist) can help us untangle, understand, regroup, and use different strategies.
With the above in mind, 5 key, previously written about, thoughts from Help! Aging Parents:
1. “People Change, Not Much.”
2. “Put on your mask before assisting others.” (Airplane advice.)
3. “What’s the Goal?” Important question to ask ourself to keep from getting sidetracked when dealing with difficult issues.
4. “Is it Better for Them (Parents) or Better for Us?” Is our priority our parents or ourselves? Answering this helps avoid hasty, emotional, possibly life-changing decisions (especially when we are under stress).
5. “Angels Can Do No More.” (Grandma’s advice.) Remember this when we’ve done all we can.
Related: Aging Parents. Discouraged Caregiver-Children.
Caregiving Siblings and Uninvolved, Less-involved Brothers and Sisters
Changing weekly: “Of Current Interest”(right sidebar). Links to timely information and research from top universities, plus some free and some fun stuff–to help parents age well.
There is a great book out by Johann Christoph Arnold titled, “Rich in Years” http://www.richinyears.com. This book has done wonders in helping me understand what my aging mother is going through. By better understanding her feeling I am able to show her I care in a way that she can understand. I think that is the main key to helping parents through the aging process- just understanding them. This book really changed my relationship between my mom and I. I strongly recommend it to everyone who is going through the aging process or who has someone they love going through this process!
Thanks for the suggestion, Betty. I know neither the author nor the book, but will certainly check both out. The more good help the better and it certainly sounds like “Rich in Years” was a great help to you.
You are very welcome Susan. I hope you like the book as much as I did. I did indeed find it to be very helpful!
This is a good reminder both that we can only do so much for our parents and that one of the things we can’t do is change them.
You stated it perfectly. Thanks so much.