With last weekend being Mother's Day, I reflected on someth
ing that happened to me this week. For those of us who are lucky enough to still have our mothers in our lives, do you
mother your mother?
I helped a client sort out a difficult situation this week. She is a widow, in her 70's and has adult children. Her son was replacing her roof on the house and doing some other major construction. The daughters were questioning both their mother and their brother to the point where they wanted to oversee the work and money being spent to make sure their mom was doing the right thing. The daughters felt that the only work needed to be done was to replace the roof. The son was doing what his mom asked him to do. Since I am my client's financial advocate, she called me to help smooth things out, since I understood her financial situation and could provide objective feedback to all concerned.
After an extended conversation with my client and her son about wants vs. needs, costs of material and timeline, we came to the decision that to enable her to "age in place" the construction was valid AND needed. My client glowed after we talked and her son was happy. Before I informed the daughters of the process and outcome, I played out every scenario in my head about how I would react to me if I were them. As I was thinking of this, I realized my sisters and I do the same with my mom. My brothers do what my mom asks them to do! Once I realized that, it was much easier to share the outcome. I bet there are many of us that mother our mothers and we don't even realize it.
Once again, another example of how clear things look when you can be objective and not in the muck yourself!
By the way, the daughters were grateful and we all learned a lesson.
Thanks to all the Moms out there!
Helping our Mothers
(and anyone else we care for)
Helping aging parents is a tough subject. As in my story above, you want to avoid being in the muck if at all possible. I often get asked how to get your parents to talk about the difficult subject of "What If?". Here is what I have found to be the most helpful - no one answer works - so try a couple ways. Don't give up.
- Share stories. Don't hog the conversation, but share a story about a friend who's parent passed away, went to assisted living, nursing home, fell and broke a hip - whatever the case may be. Let them tell a story about the same situation if they have one. Then ask what they think might have made it better.
- Mention why this topic is important to you and acknowledge that you know it is difficult to talk about. Revisit the stories shared from above.
- Respect their opinion. You do not have to agree with it, but respect it.
- Have them talk about their typical day - what goes right - what goes wrong - what they would like changed.
- Don't rush it. Be patient. It took me almost an hour to find out what my mother wanted as far as her funeral arrangements. We still have a lot more to cover, but I am further than before. Listen to their stories.
By the way all of the above works with spouses, kids, life and business partners. Different subject matter at times, but same process.
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