Tuesday, 11 December 2018
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HELP LINE: It’s OK for your parents to be ‘stubborn’

I TALK TO a lot of people.

Well more to the point, a lot of people talk to me.

One of the subjects that a lot of people talk to me about is their parents. Or parent.

It seems that a lot of these kids who talk to me about their parents actually like them, so they worry about them because they want them to be OK.

They want them to be … safe.

And in my world, safe is often another word for love.

Here are some things that some kids say to me:

“She’s just so … stubborn.”

Has she always been stubborn? Yes?

Then, this isn’t a change, huh?

And what would she do to stop being stubborn?

This is where it often gets quiet — at least for a minute.

“Well, she’d move out of that big old house where she’s all alone and (a) move in with us, (b) move into that lovely facility I found, (c) move in with my sister, (d) get her medications checked, (e) get some help to come in, (f) get rid of those little dogs that she’s going to fall over and kill herself on, (g) quit driving, (h) start getting those ‘home-delivered meals,’ (i) become somebody that I’ve never seen before in my entire life.”

Right. So, in other words, in order to stop being stubborn she’d do what you want her to do so she’ll be safe, right?

Here’s what your mom knows that you don’t: Nobody on this planet has ever received a guarantee of safety and they likely never will.

Besides, safe just isn’t the most important thing to her.


I know that we’ve been around this block before, but it keeps coming up because good, loving folks want me to tell them how to keep their parents (or grandparents, in-laws, old friends or whomever) safe.

Oh sure, I can talk for hours about gizmos, programs, services, ideas, techniques, approaches and resources.

The fact is, these things often work — if work means make things better and reduce risk.

But if you want me to tell you how to be sure your mom is safe, here’s the truth:

Put her in a warm place with lots of staff people (or family) to watch over her all the time and tell her what to do and when, be sure she can never go anywhere or do anything that they (or you) don’t know about or approve, reduce all risk of falls, burns and accidents, then sew her to the sofa so you can keep track of her.

Or him. Or them.


Now, close your eyes, take a deep breath and pretend you’re her — how does all that sound to you?


And you’d rather be …?

I know. Me, too.

Maybe we’re just stubborn.

When folks describe things that their mom is or isn’t doing because they wish that she would or wouldn’t, one of the first things I usually ask is, “Is that out of character?”

If the answer is “yes,” then we need to talk about medical issues, drug interactions or UTIs, etc.

But if the answer is, “Well, no,” then we need to talk about “negotiation.”

Well, what would you call it?

You want your mom to do stuff (or not do stuff) that she isn’t (or is) doing.

Your mom, assuming the absence of any of those ors above, is obviously doing (or not doing) what she darn well pleases.

Sounds like “negotiation” to me.

I’m being too simplistic, you say?

You’re absolutely right because sometimes your mom is scared and doesn’t know what to do, what kind of help is out there, wouldn’t even know help if she saw it.

But she doesn’t want to burden you.

Hey, she’s spent a lot of her life being about you, so does it surprise you that she still is?

But sometimes it isn’t about help, ignorance, fear or even martyrdom.

Sometimes it’s about your mom being your mom.

So the question becomes: Who did you want her to be?

There is almost always some kind of help available — believe me, I know, it’s what I do.

But help is only help if it helps, and unwanted help doesn’t.

Now do that thing again where you close your eyes, take a deep breath and imagine being safe, but this time, pretend you’re you.

Do you know what you just saw?



Mark Harvey is director of Clallam/Jefferson Senior Information & Assistance, which operates through the Olympic Area Agency on Aging. He is also a member of the Community Advocates for Rural Elders partnership. He can be reached at 360-452-3221 (Port Angeles-Sequim), 360-385-2552 (Jefferson County) or 360-374-9496 (West End), or by emailing [email protected].


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–> Source: https://www.peninsuladailynews.com/life/help-line-its-ok-for-your-parents-to-be-stubborn/

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