A coaching session with a client, a conversation with a friend and frequent visits with my 87 year old Mom spurred today’s blog post.
“She just miserable!” both my client and friend said exasperated at the thought of dealing with their aging parents.
Constant complaining that their daughters weren’t doing enough for them, were too busy to spend time with them and weren’t in touch often enough with them left these two women feeling worn out and ragged. The last thing that they wanted to do was spend more time with their Moms when all the got was flack. No fun, who could blame them for not wanting to connect more.
However, both were feeling bad and sad that their relationships with their respective Mom’s weren’t stronger.
This got me to thinking if two women in just a short span of time had this issue maybe there were a lot more people out there who are stuck in the sandwich generation and trying to make this click in their own homes and in their parents home.
After starting our conversation and digging a little deeper, we were able to get some insight into the situation and it didn’t take long for us to come up some with a plan to execute!
My desire is that some of these ideas spur something in you that may help your situation:
QTIP – Quit Taking It Personally. Mom may be complaining that you don’t spend enough time with her but what is she not saying? Maybe she is lonely, maybe she is afraid she will die and nobody will even notice for weeks, maybe she is fearful of losing her independence, maybe she can’t get around or see/hear as well and so she is getting out much less, maybe she is afraid she is ‘losing it?’ To take yourself out of the situation, to not get defensive, to imagine (or ask her) what she is really feeling will help you to see the situation from older eyes and then you can address the real issue at hand.
Put the Elephant on the Table – Instead of pussy-footing around with both of you being unhappy with the situation and getting in constant arguments (or silent treatments) when you are together. Schedule a time to have a real conversation. It may start like this, “Mom, I have been noticing that we are often getting into arguments when I come over.” Or, “Mom I would really like to put some effort into making our relationship even better.” It might not be easy, fun or simple, but I bet it will be valuable and eye-opening.
Make a Plan – As my client and I talked it out, she realized that she really didn’t make much of an effort to see her Mom because it wasn’t pleasant but sincerely believed if she did have the heart to heart talk and stopped taking things so personally that she could have a better relationship. She was prepared to go to her Mom with a plan. She decided that she would make herself available to take her Mom grocery shopping once a week, she would phone her every second day, she would offer to take her out to the lake in the summer and she would offer some ‘entertainment’ in the form of a movie or card game or the like twice a month. She would also invite her Mom to participate in the planning of all of the above.
Be Reliable – Just as you should be with your children and colleagues, say what you mean and mean what you say. Promise very little but what you promise ensure that you can deliver. If you are not 100% sure you can deliver, say you will try your best, but don’t use the ‘p’ word.
Let them In – on the planning, on the discussion and on the decisions as much as possible. No one likes to be told what to do but ensuring they know that they are a player in the game and have something significant to contribute and are being listened to, will go a long way.
Can you imagine the difference in a relationship that you were so purposeful, deliberate and intentional about improving?
At the end of the day what you don’t want to be saying is ‘I meant to do that’ – you want to be able to say you tried everything you could to make the relationship awesome! If you try and it doesn’t work, so be it, but at least you won’t be saying, ‘I meant to do that.’
Let me know how it goes.
Stephanie Staples is the author of When Enlightening Strikes – Creating a Mindset for Uncommon Success and an internationally acclaimed motivational speaker. She empowers audiences & clients across North America to bring their ‘A’ game to work and to life. Stephanie has a special interest in working with and empowering nurses and healthcare providers. She happily calls Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada home. You can get loads of complimentary resources to help with issues such as work/life balance, wellness, stress management and happiness in general, as well as find out more information about her coaching and speaking services at http://www.YourLifeUnlimited.ca.