This was a critical piece of my book – The Hardest Conversation – but I am not sure I was clear enough as to just how important a piece it is.
I know that one of the surest ways to get me NOT to listen is when I feel I am being talked down to. This is a common thing that happens when someone thinks they know better than the person they are talking too. When adult children talk to their parent’s in this way all the good they are attempting to do is washed away. This is why I felt it crucial to repost what I wrote in my book so that those that are approaching this conversation will take special note. If helping an aging parent deal with unpleasant things is on the horizon, please do not overlook this critical piece in the conversation. As well if you want to help get the book and read it before hand.
Just so you are clear on what this post is about here is that particular excerpt from the book:
Speak to me, not at me
Is this conversation or an education?
So often when we start to talk to parents about their future we talk at them, we tell them what needs to be done, and how it needs to be done. We often, especially if someone else is in the room, speak as though they are not in the conversation. We speak to them as if in a conversation about their options not as though you are educating them on what needs to be done. The conversation lets them come to their own conclusions, okay with few subtle nudges, but nonetheless ones they feel they have determined on their own.
I can understand when I know, not when I am told
One of the most difficult things to pull off when talking to an aging parent is not talking to them as if they were our kids. Even children these days do not take kindly to being told anything. I’m sure you are familiar with, “I know, Mom, you don’t have to keep telling me.” The issue is that aging parents may not know. They aren’t looking for solutions to problems they may not have or think they have. That’s the whole point of this conversation, isn’t it? To help them understand what they may not know or be aware of. Don’t get me wrong; I am not saying they are out of touch with the world and don’t see what’s coming. In all probability, they do know and understand that some changes are going to be needed in the future. But just like the rest of us, they feel the future is still ways off.
So the job here is to bring their attention to it or possibly just find out what they think the future is going to hold for them and what they think should be done about it. If they have not thought about it, this is your opportunity to help them understand that the sooner they do think about the future and how they want it to be the better for them. And remember it is about their future and what it means for them not you.
Don’t tell me, ask me
As with all conversations at this stage of your parents’ life, they, just like you, don’t want to be told to do or think anything. It is, however, important that you ask them for their thoughts. This is the point at which you can, if need be, bring your concerns into the conversation by telling them how you feel. Let them know that everything is within their control but that by them sharing their plans with you the better prepared you will be to help if needed. The “if needed” is key here because most parents at the point will insist they don’t need any help.
The Hardest Conversation was one of the more difficult books I have written because I was mostlywriting it for my children so that they would understand how they should approach the issues when and should the day come that I need them to.
I must confess my children are unaware this book has even been written, but don’t worry I’ll be telling them soon, hopefully with some support from my reader reviews. So if you do get the book I would be grateful for any and all honest reviews you provide on Amazon. Maybe those reviews will reveal something I forgot to add in the book.
So if you are that parent or the adult children of an aging parent, perhaps you should get this book. I know myself that one of my major concerns of aging is that when the time comes that I need help to make hard choices my children will know how to address those needs with me. You can get the book by clicking HERE