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Parents and their Adult Children: Staying Connected Without the Contempt

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I count myself fortunate to have a complete family, and plenty of contact with them in my early, formative years. As a full-fledged adult, I still have a reasonable amount of time being with them (at least a week’s worth within every month). As with any relationship, it’s not all smooth sailing, but given long years of being together, there is always the threat of feelings of contempt getting in the way.

In the case of adult children and parents, this is further magnified by the quirks and eccentricities of getting old. This is not always the case (some people actually become more pleasant with age), but I am writing from personal experience, and the folks, though I love them ever so dearly, can sometimes annoy or even frustrate me for one reason or another.

These feelings are valid and do deserve to be expressed now and then, but you can’t let them destroy your relationship. Your parents brought you into this world, and as much as you needed them back then for material and emotional sustenance, your elderly folks need your love, understanding, and presence in the twilight of their own lives.

From mine and my friends’ experiences, here are some ways to stay in touch with your folks while avoiding any smouldering tempers and hurt feelings:


Make Use of Technology

Current communications technology offers us so many ways of keeping in touch. While you shouldn’t take out physical proximity from your list of ways to communicate, you should save those up for special occasions and those moments where you really need to sit and talk face-to-face.

A text message or tweet a few times a day can’t hurt, and many people are in the habit of making or receiving a phone call or video conference from their parent at least once every few days. You get to exchange sentiments and ideas, and at the same time not get in each other’s way.

Since you are the younger and more tech-savvy one (I’m really hoping that’s the case), you should make the effort to set up your parents’ gadgets to make the experience easy for them. Get them a reliable but simple mobile phone with an appropriate usage plan, configure their computers and other devices so they can easily contact you (your name should always be on the speed-dial/start menu/contact list/etc.), and please be patient with them as they fumble around with the technology. Most of our parents weren’t born during the digital age, after all.


Short but Frequent Visits

I found that visiting them often but hanging out for way too long keeps things fresh, and you don’t end up getting on each other’s nerves. Like I mentioned before, I visit the parental units at least once a month; they certainly won’t be forgetting my face.

I know this might not be possible if you and your folks are geographically distant from each other (or you have a crazy work schedule), so you might have to make do with video conferences and other means of remote communications.


Do Stuff Together

Don’t get bored together with your loved ones. It won’t end well, I assure you. Find an activity that all of you can enjoy doing. They’re no spring chickens (maybe you’re not so fit yourself), so find an activity that’s light on the strenuous activity and heavy on the enjoyment.

This will also give you guys something to talk about. Most kids complain that their folks talk about the same old things (like those incessant, old TV show reruns), so this will definitely give them something new to talk about.


Have Periodic Sit-Downs

No, it’s not the work stoppage variety. These are nice, long talks over coffee (or alcohol) where you and your parents talk about stuff. I actually have separate sit-downs with each parent, as there are some things I am not comfortable discussing when the other one is present.

Use this time to air out any misgivings, smoothen out misunderstandings, talk about plans for the future, and talk a bit about the past as well. Chances are, they won’t be around a few decades down the line, so make certain that there are no things left unsaid, and that even as you part ways, your memories of them will be complete.


I hope these tips help you build an even stronger relationship with your venerable parents, and just in time for the Holidays, too! Live well and love your friends and family, readers!


About the Author

Stacey Thompson is a professional writer, marketer, entrepreneur, and a lover of weird little animals. She is based in San Diego, California, and is currently preoccupied with preparing a grand family get-together for Christmas. She is still working on Word Baristas, the group blog with her friends.

Gadgets that Golden Guys and Gals Should Use

It’s almost immediately assumed that people over the age of sixty (even younger if they didn’t work in a relatively high-technology industry) to be totally out of touch with the digital world and the various paradigms that define it. This would include the very devices that are part and parcel of this technological domain.

The assumption isn’t without merit; there are a lot of seniors who don’t keep up with the times, and thus, do not fully comprehend these newfangled gadgets and gizmos. Either they cannot be bothered to update themselves, none of the young ones have the patience to teach them, or a mixture of both reasons. In any case, this is a lost opportunity that must be rectified. Technology is meant to make things easier, more convenient, and more efficient for humanity, and that definitely includes our elders.

I will identify a few choice gadgets that golden boys and girls should seriously consider familiarizing themselves with. Granted, there will be some learning involved, but the benefits of being able to use these devices will improve the quality of life and give seniors something to talk about with their younger friends and family.

Tablet Computers

Mice and touchpads aren’t always the most intuitive interfaces for those who didn’t grow up with a personal computer readily available to them. Using one’s fingers to point and press, however, is something we are inherently comfortable with.

pocket-lint.com

Google Nexus 7 Tablet

The touch-sensitive screens and the bright, crisp displays of today’s commercially available tablets make interfacing with information all the more easier. They aren’t particularly heavy (like some laptops), have very few actual buttons and moving parts, and the screen is big enough to be readable (compared to smartphones).

Game Consoles

I am not kidding. Many a senior will appreciate all the cool games one can play with a modern gaming console connected to an LCD TV. Remember that these computers are designed for a younger audience, and the controllers and other peripherals are simple and safe enough to fiddle around with or without the risk of electrocution.

cnet.com

Nintendo Wii Console

They’re a lot of fun, too. The selection of titles are rather diverse, and though Grandpa may not opt to relive his days of military service by playing some shooter, he and Grandma could always enjoy an entertaining game of virtual tennis. Obviously, this is another way for elders and youngins to play together.

Housekeeping Gadgets

There are numerous technological aids to home maintenance available nowadays. Most are designed to be simple to use and operate, while giving the owner more quality time to pursue what they truly want to do.

Admittedly, our seniors are a little less ambulatory than they used to be. Granted, they need healthy exercise more than ever, but under more controlled, safer environments and scenarios. Take for instance sweeping and vacuuming the house or apartment. It can be a bit risky for them to lift or push heavy furniture or try to get into cramped spaces. There are such handy cleaning robots that can do the work, albeit without risk to your beloved.

Mobile Phone

From a device used by the military and a key feature in expensive executive automobiles, wireless phones have become most ubiquitous consumer electronic device in the world today. It used to be just a way for people to get in touch via voice calls; now, just about all forms of data are transmitted and received through these handheld technological marvels.

mphoneguide.com

Samsung Jitterbug

Cutting-edge smartphones have so many features and functionalities, but not all of these are essential. A simple and reliable mobile phone is all one needs to negotiate the intricacies of the wired world.

A final word on teaching seniors about new technology: be patient. The world is changing much faster than it was during the years of their youth, and it can be disconcerting for some of them. Give them the time and positive encouragement to learn how to use these gadgets and gizmos properly, and you would have made their lives a tad more convenient and enjoyable.


About the Author

Stacey Thompson is a professional writer, marketer, entrepreneur, and a lover of weird little animals. She is based in San Diego, California, and is currently conspiring with her closest friends in making their new blog, Word Baristas.