Swallowing the bitter pill of growing old II


by Joy Loverde

In Swallowing the bitter pill of growing old,  Joy was responding to a reader whose parent was resisting the bitter pill of aging.

Joy’s counsel continues:

During times like these, try using non-verbal communication methods – listen, look into her eyes when she speaks, no interrupting, sit back and uncross your arms and legs. If you wish to say something, validate what she says she’s feeling. Validating does not mean you are in agreement to what is being said, it simply means that you understand what she is experiencing in the moment.

Yes I know this can be a difficult process, try not to take what she says personally (it REALLY has nothing to do with you though she says it does). Do what you can to distance yourself from what is being said. When you want to say something, try some of these validating statements:

This has been hard for you hasn’t it, Mom?

I’m sorry this is happening to you.

I’m sorry you’re sad (angry).

You must be very angry at… I’d be mad too if that happened to me.

I know how emotionally draining it is to subject yourself to your Mom’s bitterness; but most attempts to discount your Mom’s inherent right to express how she feels will sustain the relationship conflicts between the two of you.

Here’s something else to keep in mind. Parents start fights for a variety of reasons – lack of trust, loss of power within the family; but one of the most common reasons they argue is this… fighting is an attention getter.

It appears as though your mom has figured out (consciously or otherwise) that arguing almost guarantees you and everyone else will stay focused on her. Think back on the level of attention she gets whenever she disobeys doctor’s orders. If she complied, what is there to talk about?

Try this. Next time she says she doesn’t want to do something, say OK, give her a hug and quietly sit down or walk away (no dirty looks). Dismantle her negative, angry remarks with loving gestures, and reassure her that you’ll always be there for her (which is what she is trying to tell you she is seeking from you).