Our Ageing Parents
When I and my friends of the same age, 30 something, nowadays talk about our parents, close to retirement age or older, it's quite different from few years ago.
Couple of years ago questions:"So, how is your parents doing?" was answered easygoingly:"the same old, same old" or "discovered some new hobby" or "back in the hospital, getting something treated". The theme was dropped quickly, as there was current topics to discuss, like kids, relationships with partners, politics, environment or what ever else.
Vung Bau, Phu Quoc, Vietnam (Photos of this post are totally irrelevat to the theme, but are from where this post is written.)
Recently we discuss our parents a lot and with constant wonder. Many of us have reached the age when the positions are shifting, it's time now to take care of our parents, because there are some things that they can't cope anymore so well. The classical, parent becomes the child and child the parent. Of course, it is hard to admit, specially for the aging parent and might result in acting like a small child, rebelling and being irritated.
To them this situation of needing the child in a completely different way is very much confusing. The needs that parents growing old might have can be emotional kind, support with their broken hearts, relationships, or more material, support with new technology, filling out forms, getting some practical things done or something completely different, that they have usually performed independently. Funny thing is that at the same time they might help their own parents, if still alive, with similar, but different things.
Some of us are struggling to accept that our parents that used to have answers to almost everything are now more limited. It's quite painful to see a parent in this kind of helplessness and it requires going through the grief of giving up of the world as we knew it. Especially when most of us have the best, solid rock kind of parents, that are been always there for us, no matter what. I think this, at the age of 30 something, letting go of parent-child relationship, is much harder than moving away from home. Humans, as many other animals, have a lifelong relationship with their offspring, but as everything else, this relationship is in a constant progress and changes over time.
Vung Bau, Phu Quoc, Vietnam
One thing that is important to consider as we now live more in big cities than small communities: it's now the children role to make sure our parents are not lonely. So push them around a bit to find new friends, or old, like they did to you, taking you to play with other kids. This is especially important at the times when retiring and the world as they knew it changes the most. Be kind and understanding to each other, as relationship with a parent is often one of the longest, meaningful and complicated that we might have, if we are lucky enough to have a parent. This on the other hand does not mean that if you had/have a parent who is bad for you, you should now take care of them or kick in with a revenge.
All I want to say on this it that take steps that are good for your parent, but also good for you. Your needs are equally important and being your parent does not automatically mean that you are obligated to them. They had all your childhood to make the relationship with you to work and if they used that time, you wouldn't question should I or should I not. You know it by heart.
So parents with kids, consider also this with your busy schedules, these are the same kids, 30 years from now, telling you to go "play" with others when you feel shy or help you with new technology. So make that relationship work. I know parenting isn't easy at all, but it can show the best in you there is!
Part of the poem by Kahlil Gibran
Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts, For they have their own thoughts. You may house their bodies but not their souls, For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
Vung Bau, Phu Quoc, Vietnam