Hope for living, loving and caring with no regrets!
Last week’s guest, Carolyn Miller Parr, shared from her book, Love’s Way, her experience related to families who did not have the tough conversations. Now, Rayna Neises, ACC, host, and Aly Neises, RN, cohost, continue discussing the invaluable information provided in Carolyn’s book and the importance of communicating, listening, and seeking a win-win during the season of caring.
- Seven tips to consider for having a good conversation
- Your parent has been making decisions for a long time . . . Just because you do not agree does not mean it is not the right decision for him/her
- Consider what label or assumption you are viewing the situation through and ask if it is preventing a win-win solution
- Seek to understand feelings and where the other person is coming from
- We lose sight of the goal when we label, mind read, or fortune tell
- Step back and look at the things you have said or done or are doing in those communications and try to break the pattern
- Be willing to ask questions and truly hear where the other person is . . . do not just come in with all the answers
- Use ‘I Statements’ to open up the communication
- Value the relationship over winning to be able to have that relationship when the journey ends
*Transcript is an actual recount of the live conversation
Welcome to A Season of Caring Podcast, where there’s hope for living, loving, and caring with no regrets. This is Rayna Neises, your host, with Aly Neises, your cohost. Today we’re going to discuss more about Carolyn Miller Parr’s interview as well as her book Love’s Way. I so enjoyed talking to Carolyn, she is just a little Spitfire, it’s amazing. And her passion for families and helping them be able to talk through just the challenges of caring for aging parents. It’s just spoke to my heart.
I just have a few things I wanted to highlight so many times we see older people clutching onto their independence. They want that to remain completely intact at the cost of everything else. When their loved one wants safety to be the top priority and at the cost of everything else. And that is the root of most of the difficult conversations we have. So she goes on to talk about how important it is to have those difficult conversations and she lays out some tips to consider about how to have a good conversation. First, she says you have to listen to comprehend, not to argue. Second, try to build confidence, not anxiety. Third understand that these conversations are a process, not a one-shot event, and they may take multiple sessions over days, if not weeks. Number four, focus on the issue, not the individual. If you’re concerned about your parent’s safety, focus on that and not their attitude perceived intractability or resistance. Number five if the conversation becomes too emotional, stop, take a break, change the subject. Don’t let the discussion get out of hands. And six, make sure you understand what you want to discuss. If it’s about moving to an assisted living residence, have you checked out the location cost amenities? If it’s about mom, no longer driving. Do you know your state’s laws regarding driver’s licenses for older adults, available public transportation? Number seven, as long as they remain competent, respect your parents’ right to control their own destiny even if you disagree with their decisions. These conversations are difficult and they can often be inhibited by fear. So keep listening. It’s the most important, powerful resource that we have to breach the walls of resistance in silence. Together, families can create a new story, one guided by love and understanding the path towards a happy ending, begins with trying to walk together even for a short time in another shoes. So much wisdom in that.
I love every part that puts in there. I mean, I agree for us as children try to protect our parents. I think sometimes we forget that they’re adults. They can make their own decisions. They can do things that they want to do, and they should. So just because they can’t physically do some things sometimes, or even cognitively doesn’t mean that they’re invalids or they can’t do anything anymore.
When you see your parent’s age and you see them not able to do the things that they used to be able to do, it rocks your world a little bit. And so you have a tendency to come in and kind of become a helicopter parent when you’re not the parent. So the fact that Carolyn just reminds us that they’re an adults. They’ve been making decisions a really long time, actually, longer than you’ve been alive, they’ve been making adult decisions. So it’s time to let them do that. And just because you don’t agree, it doesn’t mean it’s not the right decision.
Yeah. And I think sometimes we lose of that as kids. Like, we just want what’s best for them. We just want to protect them. We want to build this little bubble to make sure that they don’t fall or they make a bad decision or they don’t get scammed by some creeper on the telephone. All these scenarios all the time, we just want to make sure that they’re safe and they’re happy and healthy.
And again, they’re, they’re gonna make mistakes we all do. So they might trust the wrong person. They might get taken advantage of a little bit, but as long as you’re staying in relationship, you’re going to be aware of those things and you’re going to be able to really help them, negotiate them if that happens. Not take over, not keep them safe, not put them in a little padded room and not let anything happen to them. The truth is we know that we’re walking them home, they’re not going to be here forever and that’s hard to embrace, but at the same time, it is reality. And most of them, like Carolyn said in her interview, would rather be in their own home doing their own thing than they would be only safe.
You may have their best interest at heart, but that being said, you could overstep that boundary really quickly if you lose sight. And I think too, not losing sight of who we’re taking care of, the fact that this is loved one and that they want, certain things and they, they would like certain things too. And just understanding that they are still the parents and that they are capable.
I liked her example of reframing when she was talking about the kids, wanting the mom to move out of her home and just asking all those questions. What is it that she’s really objecting to? Is she objecting to not being able to find your way or having to leave friend or knowing where her bank is? Just, there’s so much more involved that sometimes we may come in with just our opinion, then we’re losing the ability to see the big picture and to really see things outside of our own opinion. That was another section that I found really interesting in Caroline’s book. She was talking about just dangerous assumptions and how dangerous they are. And oftentimes we have assumptions about things that fall into one of four categories. Labeling fortune-telling mind, reading and shoulding Labeling is just kind of always labeling somebody, that’s the way they are. She’s always disorganized or she never was very smart. And that label really limits us from being able to be open to anything else because we view everything through that label. Fortune-telling is along the same lines as far as just always setting negative goals or always seeing the downside side of life. And oftentimes by seeing the negative in the future, then it becomes a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy and an excuse to not try or to give up. She said the two most common ways that we function in assumptions. Come from mind-reading though. She said mind reading is when we presume we know what the other person thinks, and we ignore any evidence that might tell us something more positive. We assume we know it and no one can tell us anything otherwise, even the person we’re assuming that about. And the last one was shoulding. I think shoulds are one of those things that we all have in our lives. And we frequently have self-talk, I should be able to do this or this should happen this way. Shoulds come from being stuck in a pattern of how it’s supposed to be based on cultural assumptions, our own limited experience, or another person’s expectations. And they can just lead into a lot of guilt and judging and really, inhibiting your ability to create new possibilities. So some great things again, to consider what label or what, assumptions we’re viewing things through in those conversations that we’re trying to find a win-win for can help us to eliminate those.
I think you bring up a great point. I think sometimes we are our own self-fulfilling prophecy, we believe how something should be, or will be, and then it ends up being that way. And so then we’re like, well, see told ya. And so then we just always assume. So understanding that and identifying those things that you may be doing even when we’re talking about things involving parents and that kind of thing is really hard. One of the things that we’ve always talked about is that we have to extend grace to one another. We have to understand how people may be feeling or where they may be coming from. That’s how you get through this. And how you can understand what is the best for not losing sight of what we’re actually doing. You know, the focus has always been who we’re taking care of and what they would want and how they would want things to be done. Sometimes we lose side of that. And so these are great examples of why we lose sight, you know, We label things, mind read, we try to fortune tell, I mean that those are all things that are gonna change. And so you kind of lose track of what mom would want or what dad would want. What is the respectful thing? What is the best option?
Well, and just having those assumptions in our mind, when we try to communicate, it keeps us from really being able to listen. So if we are so mom, isn’t able to drive any more than we’re always looking for examples. And like you said, kind of even rubbing it in their face if they get a ticket or if they have an accident. Well, I told you, you shouldn’t be driving, you know, always looking at those negative sides instead of really being able to have that open, honest communication about your concerns and really hearing your parent as well.
I think that, creating those assumptions and understanding that you have created those assumptions or being able to identify that. I mean, I think we talked, you talked a little bit earlier about the daughter’s wanting to move somebody away from their home. And so we’ve just assumed that they’re going to move with no problem. What we don’t really look at is that’s the only home she’s known. That’s all she’s ever known. Yeah. It was where the bank is. Yeah. She knows who the neighbors are. Yeah. She knows where the churches, but we just assumed that it would be easy to pick up and go when really it’s not necessarily the true, so. I mean understanding all of that, but also talking to our loved ones about what, what kinds of things, and try it, not to put our own bias on it or own thoughts into it. And I know that’s easier said than done for sure. I know that I do it every day. So, just kind of being able to step back and look at what kinds of actions and what kinds of things you’ve said or done or are doing in those communications and try to break that pattern is going to be the best option for everyone involved.
One of the easiest ways to do that is to ask questions. Because we can ask the questions, assuming we know the answer, but we can find out so much more if we just ask the questions. So if I’m coming to my parent and saying, I’m really concerned, cause I think that you’re getting to a point that it’s not safe for you to be at home alone. So I found these places that I think we should move, blah, blah, blah. And we’re just like two miles down the path when we’ve just brought it up to them for the first time. It’s not going to go over very well. That relationship is going to have conflict and it could get ugly and it could have big repercussions if we don’t really listen. Whereas I think coming to that parent and saying, it worries me that you’re here by yourself and I don’t really know how you’re doing and I can’t see you every day. There’s no way for me to make it over here and check up on you every day. How are you feeling? Do you feel safe? Are you worried about anything? can I help you with anything? What if we were to bring in help to do this or that, you know, asking those questions so that you can really hear where they are and not just coming in with all the answers.
And I think you bring up a great point using I-statements is a great way to open communication between two parties as well. If you talk about how you feel, your own feelings and options and opinions are on the subject. You’re going to have a much better dialogue. If you would come in I just don’t really feel safe with you out here. And I’ve looked at all these options it’s for you. And we’re going to move you next week. That’s not a way to handle this, not in the least bit. You’re not going to get anywhere. And you’re just going to burn bridges and that’s not what we want to do either. So I statements are a great way to, help kind of express your feelings, but also do it in a respectful manner.
I think that’s true even when you’re partnering with a sibling. caring for a parent, when they get to the place where they need help with those decisions, or they need help physically, it needs to be a partnership and that’s going to happen when you’re looking for the win, win, in the partnership. You’re looking for. The being able to use those eyes statements to clearly communicate your concerns or your needs so that you can work together. And both of you can have what you need to be able to support your parents.
I agree. Cause like we have talked about this from the beginning. The whole goal is to walk our parents all the way home for that journey. So if you aren’t handling things appropriately, even with your siblings during the season, you know, you may get done what you want to get done, but if you don’t respect the other people in this relationship as well, including other family members, eventually this journey is going to be okay and you’re going to have nobody left and that’s not worth it either. I think one of the common things that I find is that no two people are the same, even siblings, they can vary night and day. My brother and I are a prime example. We are not the same person. We don’t think the same. We don’t process the same things that are important to me are not important to him. And that’s okay. That’s just what makes us unique. But that being said, that can complicate things. When we’re about making decisions about a loved one, especially your parents. So if you can extend some grace and think about how best to make those decisions and what mom and dad would want. And that’s what the common denominator is throughout, they’re going to do better. But also extending grace and understanding that what’s important to me may not be important to him and just letting him have some of that. That’s okay it may not be important to me that, my mom gets her hair done every week, but it’s important to him. So we’re going to do it. That’s a small thing that isn’t a hill to die on by no means. So. Keep that in mind as well.
Definitely. I think again, it’s valuing the relationship over winning and to have that relationship when the whole thing is over. It should be a goal as well. It would break your parent’s heart to know that you couldn’t get along once they’re gone. So definitely finding a way to be able to come together. And again, asking those questions, looking for the win, win in this situation. And really being able to understand where the person’s coming from. It can be hard because like you said, you’re not the same. And there is no one else in this world who thinks exactly like you do. So you can’t assume, you can’t be a mind reader. You can’t, Do those same things in those relationships, as well as the people that you’re, that are working for you, anyone on your team, whether it be a doctor or a caregiver. Just being able to understand that communication is the most important part to be able to avoid the conflict that can leave you in a place where you don’t have a relationship once your loved one’s gone. I think it’s amazing when I think about the fact that Carolyn and Sig, were able to sit in mediation and time and time again, listen to families that had so many struggles. And one of the things that she brought up in the interview was also that forgiveness piece. That just because they did something when they were 12 that made you mad, not holding it against your sibling, the rest of their life. Sometimes it’s hard to not just stay in those old patterns. The baby always does this. And the older always did that. And that’s what we always do. A lot of years have passed. And usually, you’re in a place where you’re actually not the same person were when you lived with your family, when you lived with that sibling, or even when you lived with your so remembering that you have changed and grown and so have they. Both your parents and your siblings. Allowing there to be forgiveness so that you can extend that grace, as you continue the relationship and move on in being the person that you need to be to support your parent or your loved one,
So I think you bring up some great points, I agree, sitting there and doing mediation and trying to hear both sides and trying to figure it out. Work all that through would be very difficult, especially when you’re talking about long-standing issues that have happened. Well, when you were 14, you did this and I’ll never forgive you. It’s funny, but those things do happen and they happen a lot. And it’s funny how those kinds of things can be the things that change a whole dynamic for a family. And so keeping that in mind as well. The things that you say, the things that you do maybe impactful, and it’s not that you did them on purpose necessarily. But because of the other person involved there, they may also be doing these things. They may also be labeling and fortune-telling and assuming and shoulding that’s also a factor. So keep that in mind as well, just trying to be open-minded. And like I said, extended some grace and understanding and love.
So that big picture, you’ve got to keep the big picture again, we’re goal is to walk them all the way home and to remain family that love each other once they’re gone. So just keeping in mind that it’s going to take grace, it’s going to take forgiveness. It’s going to take love to be able to accomplish that ultimate goal. Listeners start as we hope that today, as we’ve talked to a little bit more about how important that communication is in the family, that you found that helpful. We do have a copy of Carolyn Miller Parr and Sig Cohen’s book. Love’s Way. We would love to give that away to you. And so if you would just visit our website www.Aseasonofcaring.com/podcast, you can find their podcast. And if you would just we’ll add comment at the bottom of the page there, then you’ll be entered into a drawing to receive this book free. We look forward to your comments and to giving away a copy of Love’s Way. I know you’re going to find it very interesting to hear the stories of families, the challenges that they had, and how mediation helped them work through those things and how you might be able to avoid any of those challenges in your caring season. Again, A Season of Caring Podcast is created for the encouragement of family caregivers. If you have medical, financial, or legal questions, please contact your local professionals and take heart in your season of caring.
*Transcript is an actual recount of the live conversation
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