Having a difficult conversation with an aging parent is no picnic. There can be dozens of underlying issues stemming back decades and, when you and your adult siblings don’t see eye-to-eye, it might get ugly.
Here are some suggestions to help the process go smoothly and with maximum benefit.
HOW TO START THE CONVERSATION:
1. Make an appointment for no more than one hour of uninterrupted time.
2. Know in advance what you want to talk about.
3. Know the roles of the participants.
4. Know WHY you’re having the conversation.
TIPS FOR TALKING ABOUT SENSITIVE ISSUES:
1. Stay focused.
2. Ask questions.
3. Make sure everyone listens to each other, and understands what others are saying.
4. Stick to the time limit, even if nothing gets resolved.
5. Offer thinking time to everyone.
Families can easily get sidetracked, sometimes by age-old patterns. “I’m the eldest,” “I do the most for Mom,” “You’ve always been a spoiled brat.” Try to stick to the issue at hand, and be sure to let your aging parent weigh in.
In the family mediations I’ve conducted, the greatest success has been achieved when the issue to be discussed was clearly defined. Ancient sibling rivalries, or petty irritations were put aside.
These can be challenging times, and I urge you to remember that it’s all for the benefit of your parent.