As parents get older children start to take control.
“My children would never let me do that.”
Oh no, not another one! Another one of my friends who dares not do anything without checking first whether her children would approve.
OK, so a lot of my friends are around the 80-year mark but that doesn’t mean we can’t go to a nightclub or join a poker school or take up belly dancing.
I am thankful that my children do not interfere in my life. Perhaps they wouldn’t dare. But my friends justify the over-protectiveness of their children by saying, “It’s only because they love us so much that they are so protective.”
History repeats itself
Do I hear an echo of the words that they used on their children 40 years ago?
Admittedly it does happen that old people may become a bit forgetful or, much worse, a bit foolish, and they may even reach a stage where they are not capable of making decisions for themselves. So that is when, and not before that, their children may step in and perhaps arrange more suitable accommodation for them or get help for them in their homes.
It can also happen that funds are not available to provide for the more suitable accommodation and the children have to offer some financial assistance but that does not entitle them to take over their parents’ lives.
Out with the old, in with the new
I was recently assisting an 89-year-old friend who was moving from her cottage to “assisted living”. Of course it meant there was a lot of “stuff” that had to be disposed of and other changes made. I was helping her to sort things out before her daughters arrived from overseas. She had some very pretty floral bedrooms curtains that we decided would fit nicely in her new place. But no, the daughters arrived and declared, “Those are too old and faded. Chuck them out.” And off they went to Mr Price (without their mother) and bought what they called very pretty new curtains.
The very pretty new curtains were plain GREY.
It is sad that often very good intentions end in disaster. It is understandable that people want their parents to see their lovely new homes in Canada/Australia/New Zealand and in their generosity they buy air tickets for them to travel to stay with them for a “holiday”. Sometimes not enough thought goes into this.
"Just because we don't like smart phones doesn't mean we're not smart"
One of my friends was excited because her children paid her fare to Australia to spend two weeks with them. When she returned, I asked her how it was and she replied, “I am just so glad to be home. I am exhausted. They went off to work every day and I cleaned and cooked and did their shopping. It was only on the one weekend that we did a bit of sightseeing.”
Sometimes people have difficulty contacting their elderly parents. They buy them fancy cellphones and even pay their phone contracts but I can tell them now that there is a very high probability that this will not work. Lots of old people don’t like smart phones. It’s not that they are not smart. They are just not interested in learning how to use them. So the phone is received with thanks and put away in a drawer somewhere.
What goes around comes around
A daughter of an 85-year-old friend phoned me the other day at 6:30 am. She said, “I am terribly worried because I keep phoning my mother’s number and there is no reply.” First question, “Cellphone or land line?” Reply, “I am phoning the land line because she never answers the cellphone.”
It so happens that I have a key for her mother’s house for emergencies so I offered to nip round and check what was going on. When I got there it was to find her mother still fast asleep. I woke her and told her that her daughter was frantic with worry and she said, “But of course I didn’t answer. She knows I only wake up at 7:30 or 8. She shouldn’t be phoning so early.”
Adult children sometimes say to me, “Oh my parents are just impossible. They are such a worry to us.” Then I can only say, “I am sure you gave them plenty of worries when you were growing up. Now you have become their guardians. Perhaps it’s pay-back time.”
Have you started parenting your parents? Send us your comment to firstname.lastname@example.org.