You may remember your toddler exclaiming, “I do it myself!” From a very young age, they yearned for their own space and independence. Now, you hear your parents protest that they don’t need help; they demand their independence. It’s only natural. It’s human nature. But is independence the holy grail that we all seek? Turns out we are all dependent our whole lives. Children are dependent on their parents, their teachers, and their friends. Young families are dependent on their extended family networks, their jobs, and their community. Older adults are also dependent — on family, community, and maybe healthcare professionals.
It turns out that what we all really want is to be self-sufficient and in control of our own decisions. The aging process is hard enough for our parents as they grapple with the reality that they may not be able to do all the things that they used to, and it’s often very hard for them to admit it. You can still support your parents and keep them safe and happy without stripping them of that desire to feel in control. Instead of trying so hard to “protect” them and make decisions for them, let them make decisions whenever possible, seek their advice on matters, and respect their views.
Allowing them to feel in control of their own destiny will improve their mental and physical health – and will have a positive impact on your relationship with them.