Your parent’s behavior is driving you crazy. Maybe it’s climbing a stepstool to reach the highest kitchen shelf, or driving like Mister Magoo, or refusing assisted living, even though he or she needs care. Whatever the cause, you’re at your wit’s end.
Joseph A. Ilardo and Carole Rothman discuss how to handle difficult situations with competent and independent but stubborn parents in “Are Your Parents Driving You Crazy?” Often all that’s needed to break an impasse, they say, is finding a way for your parents to change their minds without losing face.
The following strategies are pulled from their book. Some of the examples are mine.
1.Alter the cast of characters. Consider bringing in a trusted outsider, such as a friend or minister, to offer a fresh approach. I remember one woman who feared moving to a retirement community. A talk with her pastor eased her concerns. If your parents change their course after a talk like that, they can give the minister credit for the decision.
2.Allow your parents to say no now, which may enable them to say yes later. Suppose your parents aren’t managing living independently but refuse to move to an assisted living facility. Don’t argue. Let them vent, and just listen. Listening creates a climate of openness, allowing them to hear themselves and reconsider their refusal. Leave information so they can read it and weigh the decision.
3.Accept partial or temporary solutions. I’ve had successful results when children asked Mom to try assisted living for a month or two, with the promise that they would refrain from selling her home during that trial period.
4.Turn disadvantages into advantages. If you can’t prevail, use a statement like, “Mom, Dad, there’s really nothing more I can say. You have the right to do what you want. I’m powerless.” This might prompt a generous sentiment. In changing their minds, they could say they “did it for the kids.”
5.Show your parents they really matter to you. If your parents’ behavior is repeatedly out of line, consider an intervention in which family and friends confront your parent in love, pointing out how their behavior has affected them.
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