Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Dealing with that stubborn parent

My parents are relatively young. They had my brother and me in their early 20s, and I am fortunate that they are both in good health and should be with me for many more years. Some of my friends, however, are later-in-life children. I hear the guilt/sorrow/frustration in their voices as they discuss their parents. One of the topics that comes up the most often is when they have a parent that doesn't want to change their routines.

"He is as stubborn as my four-year-old daughter," they tell me.

But that may not actually be the case.

Researchers have recently published findings in The Journals of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences & Social Sciences that indicate stubbornness is really in the eye of the beholder. While questioning adult children and their elderly parents, researchers found that neither party could agree on what behaviors were stubborn, especially when it came to long-term care decisions. Adult children would label their parents as stubborn when parents outright rejected ideas around bringing in external care services. Elderly parents, however, did not see those behaviors as stubborn.

I am fairly sure this study could be projected the other way in which parents see their young children refusing to follow directions as "stubborn" but children not labeling their own behaviors that way at all.

But, I digress.

The long-term advice is to plant the idea with your parent, step back and then bring up the advantages of your idea later on. It's more about lengthening the conversation and not making swift decisions, say the experts. Even better, have the conversation about long-term care when your parents are still young.

Can't hurt to try it right? (If you are not willing to at least try this, then I will be forced to point out that stubbornness must run in the family.)

Do you have older parents and young children that you are responsible for? How do you balance everyone's needs (including your own)? Tell me in the comments.

No comments:

Post a Comment