What? Can’t Cope With Your Aging Parents? Good For You!

Feb 1 10:19 2009 Gail McConnon Print This Article

"Coping" is one of our favorite midlife terms when it comes to describing all the ways we're dealing with our aging parents. The problem is that we usually use it to define how many ways we're not coping. Well, I'm here to tell you "Enough with the coping. Stop it!". Tell me: Why can’t you cope with your aging/elderly parents? What is it, really? Get it out of your system. Then, STOP doing it.

"Coping" is one of our favorite midlife terms when it comes to describing all the ways we're dealing with our aging parents. What does that actually mean? What does it mean to you?

You know,Guest Posting a couple days ago, I wrote a blog post called “5 Reasons To Stop Coping With Your Aging Parents“. Since then, all sorts of people have been stopping me and calling me and basically saying the same thing (i.e., Don’t tell me to stop coping. Tell me how to start!).

Well, the fact of the matter is that I’m not going to do that. Why on earth would I spend time telling anyone how to start doing something I spent a whole blog post telling them to STOP?!

No. Instead of that, I’m going to talk about all the reasons folks give for being unable to cope in the first place. If it sounds a little counter-intuitive, so be it.

Okay, so tell me: Why can’t you cope with your aging/elderly parents? What is it, really?

Do you just not have the time for them? ………. That says something about your priorities, and how far down the rung your aging parents have slid. Why is that, by the way?

Or, are you so totally stressed out in general that one more thing (i.e., your poor, neglected parents) have the potential to put you over the edge? ………. Now, that says something about your overall state of emotional health. Hmmmmmm.

Or, are your parents so good at pushing your buttons - and you’re so “easy” - that you don’t stand a chance when you’re up against them, particularly when they’re both on your case? ………… Sounds like a major lack of personal boundary-setting to me.

Or, have you climbed so far down the rabbit hole, and it’s so dark down there, that you just can’t see the proverbial light - particularly if it’s your aging parents who are blocking your exit? ………… That signals a need for some serious lightening up time.

Or, when it comes to your aging parents, does one thing just lead to another . . to another . . to another, ad infinitum? …….. Aren’t you lucky to be so needed? Of course, that does say something about a need to set limits.

Or, are your aging parents so needy - and are you figuring your resources to help are so limited - that you just don’t feel there’s anything you can do that would make a difference? ………… You’re thinking in the confines of the box. Climb out. CLIMB OUT! There’s far more you can do than you’re imagining.

Or, are you still competing with one or several of your siblings to see who can avoid getting sucked in as your parents’ caregiver the longest? …………… Naughty, naughty, naughty. You were raised better than that.

Or, do your parents just drive you nuts? ……… As if you haven’t had a lifetime of practice doing the same thing to them.

Or, do your parents say or do things that bang up against your values in some way? ……… Maybe there’s an opening for a little compassion, or tolerance. Growth is good.

Or, do you honestly believe you and your aging parents have nothing in common? ……… Oh come now. Look in the mirror. Talk about a pathetically weak cop out.

Or, is one - or are both - of your parents so physically, or emotionally, or financially, or otherwise in difficulty . . . and you’re too worried about them to step up and take on coping responsibilities? ……….. In fact, are you so worried about the state of your parents that you honestly don’t think you’ll be able to cope if something more happens? ……… Now that’s the first from-the-heart, adult-type answer you’ve given so far! And, let me just answer by saying that you’re far more than you imagine yourself to be. And, for what it’s worth, I believe in you.

See, you ARE coping. Stop it! NOW!

I’m sure there are other adult child/aging parent relationship situations I haven’t considered here. Some may well have you all wrapped up and tied in a ball, right? Super! You know what they are . . That means you can do something about them.

Aside from that, though, realize that if any of these fit you, you’ve been coping all along. You’ve probably just been so involved in whatever it is between you and your parents that you hadn’t stopped to label it that way, but it’s coping ……….. and I’d be happy to help you do something about that.

Besides, now that you know what you’ve been up to ……………. stop the coping! Let it go! Start relating to your parents as the adults all of you are. Who knows, you might just start enjoying your time together more than you ever thought possible.

Wave the banner. Stop the coping. Start living as if your relationship with your parents mattered, because when you get right down to it, it does - more than you ever imagined.

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Gail McConnon
Gail McConnon

An expert on "letting go in aging," Gail McConnon helps midlife adults clear out the emotional baggage that interferes in their relationships with their aging parents. Gail is a professional aging coach & mentor & holds BA, MPH, and MS degrees. Gail also was the adult child of & primary caregiver to her mother for the last six years of her mother's life. Visit http://www.celebrateagingparents.com for info, resources, free reports & Gail's blog.

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