CONSIDER THIS: Things Aging Parents Wish Their Adult Children Understood

In my work, I often hear complaints that sound like some variation of, “I’ve spent a lot of time  figuring out what’s best for my parents, and I’ve told them what we need to do, but they’re refusing to listen!”

It makes sense that these adult children are feeling exasperated — it’s frustrating to try to help someone who doesn’t want our advice or doesn’t seem to appreciate our involvement.

However, they’re often not considering their parents’ perspective. Following is a list of things seniors have told me they wish their children understood:

  • Getting older is hard
  • It’s upsetting to feel like our thoughts & opinions don’t matter
  • Losing our independence is very difficult
  • Not being able to remember things is frustrating & scary
  • We miss the way life used to be
  • Losing spouses, siblings, close friends, and other people who have been an important part of our lives is heartbreaking
  • It’s discouraging to have bodies that don’t work the way they used to
  • Being in pain is tough
  • We hate feeling like we’re not useful
  • Knowing that our lives are winding down is unsettling
  • We don’t want to be a burden
  • We miss the days before computers/email & cell phones, when people actually talked to each other
  • When possible, we’d rather have important conversations in person
  • When you text, we feel like you don’t have time for us.
  • It’s hard to read tone or have a conversation in a text
  • Checking your phone while we’re talking makes us feel like we’re not important
  • We worry that our family history will be lost when we’re gone
  • Being surrounded by the things we’ve accumulated throughout our lives brings back happy memories
  • Knowing that no one wants things that are special to us makes us feel like our memories aren’t important to anyone else
  • When you tell us to cheer up or look at the bright side, we feel like you don’t understand why we’re upset.
  • It’s frustrating when you think you know what’s best for us.
  • We miss you
  • Spending time with our kids & grandkids means more to us than anything else
  • We love you, we’re proud of you, and we want to feel like we’re a part of your life
We’ll explore how we may be able to elicit a more favorable response from our parents in future blog posts. For now, try keeping the above list in mind as you talk with them, and notice whether your approach changes as a result. This is likely new territory for everyone, and it often comes with some bumps. But with a little time and effort, it can present an opportunity for our parents and us to find a new appreciation for one another.

With warmth & all good wishes,




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