Protecting (not Parenting) Aging Parents–At Holiday Time, Any Time

 “We’re like the flotsam and the jetsam, we’re not needed any more.”
Willy, a retired, elderly physician-friend of Dad’s

Parenting mentally capable parents who have slowed down seems very wrong. Yet one aspect2 Santas of parenting, protecting, seems completely justified for both young and old.

We protect those at both ends of the life cycle from danger. Are we aware that we also protect children’s believing and that protecting elders’ believing can be beneficial for old people too?

Believing comes naturally to children. Don’t they believe all things are possible? Yet the realities of life dim that optimism in many as they age, and the retired physician’s quote above is a feeling a lot of old people share.

As parents begin to slow down, our parenting instincts can ramp up. We realize we can be helpful and indeed, do certain things better and faster than they. But don’t aging and aged parents still need to believe in themselves and in their abilities? That’s when monitoring our parenting instinct for protecting make sense. Unless elders can’t do, it’s unnecessary and even harmful to take over things they can do, because it can–for instance–weaken muscles, accentuate feelings of being old, and increase feelings of uselessness, even helplessness.

So what do these Santas on the subway have to do with it?

2 Santas in the same subway car should be a no-no at hours little kids ride subways. (But how else can Santas get to work?) In above photo the subway car’s door is to the right; after that comes subway bench seating where a 5-year-old was sitting snug up against his mother. She was facing forward and couldn’t see the Santas. But he turned and did. His eyes and mouth opened wide and his little body maneuvered to get a better look, whereupon his mother, seeing the Santas, in a flash scooted around so her back was to them… shielding her son from getting a second look. Parental protection–wanting to keep believing alive.

At this holiday season, here’s to doing what we can to keep believing alive…with mentally-capable elders believing that they are important and can do. I guess we call it “empowering.”


Related:  Aging Parents: Con Artists & Scams. Psychological and Monetary Consequences.

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