Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Parenting The Parents

Sometime when you are 40-something and your parents are 70-something, the role slowly reverses. You need to bite the bullet and become a parent of your parents. They start asking for your opinion or help in things they could easily do before. They start acknowledging that your life is a lot difficult and fast paced than theirs and that what you are doing would have been difficult for them to do. Their illogical behavior may surface and they may resist things that are slam-dunk. These are some of the signs that you are entering a Parent-Your-Parents phase.

One of my cousins had jokingly told me a secret formula of dealing with parents. He said, “If your dad is 75 years old, that is just his physical age. To know his mentality, you have to minus his age from 90. So your dads mental age is 15. Expect him to behave like a teenager” :)

I had forgotten all about this conversation till I got a chance to stay with my parents for a few weeks all by myself recently. It was a refreshing yet eye-opening experience. I learnt a few things along the way.

Like teenagers look up to their parents, your parents secretly look up to you. They may resist your suggestions, they may challenge you but they still need you. They need you to understand their concerns and make decisions for them. They may tell you where their comfort zone ends. In things beyond that zone, you need to assume higher responsibility of their welfare. They realise that the world has changed and their methods do not work anymore. So they need someone to lean on, who could be better than someone who is a part of their soul.

They want you to listen to them like you would listen to your school going kid. Just like your kid, whatever they say may not make much sense to you but you still got to listen with a lot of interest. In both cases, whatever you hear may be completely illogical but you still got to ask those leading questions “Oh really, what did you say then?” than dismissing the story off-hand.

Like pre-teens they want you to be around even if they are doing their own thing. They may not talk to you, they may not look at you but they are happy that you are around. They want you to look at them doing things, wait for them, drive them around, extend a helping hand.

Like kids doing their homework, they want to do things their way – right or wrong. They are not interested in your online bill payments – they want you to stand in the queue and pay that telephone bill in cash. They are not interested in looking at bank balance online – they want their passbook filled up. Period. Don’t try to tell them their method is wrong. Like kids, they would never agree. It has to be done their way. And that’s it.

Boys and Girls need attention. Men and Women need respect. Parents need acceptance. As they head to the sunset, they want to hear that their life had some meaning. If they had made some mistakes, they want you to be magnanimous and say its OK. If they had any missed opportunities, they want to hear that you did just fine without those.

Happy parenting your parents!!

(Originally published on TheLogicalBunch.com)

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