Bertie and John had lived quite independently well into their eighties. Both of their children lived away from them but were in regular phone contact with them, visiting as often as they could. Their daughter had her family as well as a full time job and was caught up in the whirlwind of trying to juggle all the plates and keeping sane at the same time.
Her parents had always been there for Marlene. She had had a wonderful childhood. As she watched her parents becoming more fragile she wanted to keep them safe and saw that living in a 3rd floor condo was getting too much for them.
They had been talking about making a move to a smaller space and had even made the step of looking around at some available retirement living homes. They had come to a standstill because they weren’t able to agree on where to go. Marlene could sense that they were ready to discuss it with her.
Wanting to make the talk less emotional for all concerned she went ahead and held it like a business meeting. First she stated that she wanted her parents to let her become a facilitator instead of a daughter. She gave them each a pad and a pen and asked them each to write down their 5 top priorities for a retirement home. With a twinkle in their eyes they went along with Marlene and began to write.
When they finished writing she reminded them that this was like a business meeting therefore they would take turns having the floor and there would be no crosstalk while each spoke.
“Dad you go first”, said Marlene keeping in mind that her Dad was the “man of the house” and she showed the respect due to him. Dad read his 5 priorities and explained how each one was important to him. Mom was keeping the rules and did not butt in with her comments. When Mom’s turn came it was a surprise because her list was not that different from Dad’s. Both Mom and Dad had written “affordable” as their top priority. Right away they could see that they had to trim their list of retirement homes as they were too expensive.
Marlene made sure that when any question came up to her during the discussion that she would always direct it back to her parents. She was careful not to give her opinion. She only asked crucial questions that led them to come to their own conclusions.
This method worked out as a win-win for all involved. Marlene knew that her dad would be able to walk around outside and enjoy the gardens. She also knew that her Mom wouldn’t have to worry about preparing three meals a day. Marlene’s parents were both happy in their choice of a new home getting all their wants met. Marlene had less worry knowing her parents were in a safe, affordable environment with extra help available.
Our goal as the adult children should always focus on cultivating harmony by approaching our parents in a gentle non-aggressive way, leaving their dignity and respect in tact.