“A parent’s love is whole no matter how many times divided”- Robert Brault
National Parent’s Day is on fourth Sunday this July. In May you celebrated mothers and in June fathers and this month it is parents together to show them the love and care all at once. It is true fact that biological parents are our parents but also many kids are adopted by couples and become parents so it’s their time too to celebrate this occasion. If you go by the dictionary meaning then parents means any person either father or mother or they as together who nurtures and raises a child and plays a role of a guardian is a parent and that is even applicable for other living beings too like your pets.
National Parents’ Day was established in 1994 when President Bill Clinton signed a Congressional Resolution into Law (36 U.S.C. § 135) for recognizing, uplifting, and supporting the role of parents in the rearing of children.” The bill was introduced by Republican Senator Trent Lott.
This year parents day falls on July 23 in 2017. The purpose of the observance is to recognize the role of parents in bringing up their children. Citizens, organizations, federal, state, and local governmental and legislative entities participate in celebrations. The Parents’ Day Council honors “Parents of the Year”. Children spend time with their parents, say them ‘thank you’ for successful upbringing, give gifts, send greeting cards, invite for dinner or lunch.
But have you ever wondered why there was a need to have a day for Parent’s? It was because children began to think them as a burden specially when the parents grow old. With the number of Americans age 65 and older projected to nearly double by 2050, a report by Pew Research Center Americans say that the government should bear the greatest responsibility for people’s economic well-being in their old age but the fact is that it is also the children to bear a responsibility to help aging parents in need both financially and non financially.
If younger generation look for caregivers for their parents or send their elders to such homes leaving to die alone, on the other hand many older people also don’t want to live with their children and actually look forward to a time and place where their day to day needs are taken care of without being a burden to their children, where they can be close to their families and yet where they can live among their peers.
The Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies recently published a report with stunning statistics on aging. By 2035, one in three U.S. households, versus today’s one in five, will be headed by someone 65 or older. This will also mean an American population with one in five people over 65—almost 80 million people—up from one in seven today. That’s an increase of more than 30 million people over the next 20 years.
According to a poll conducted in 2007 one in five Americans, 21 percent, say they are either caring for an aging parent or have had to do so in the past – 16 percent are doing so now and 5 percent once did. This responsibility varies by gender, and women are twice as likely as men to be caring for an aging parent right now. By 2035, the number of households with a person with a disability will reach more than 31 million—an increase of 76 percent over current numbers. Twelve million of these households will have someone who needs help with self-care, such as bathing and eating, and another 27 million will have an occupant who has limitations when it comes to household activities such as driving, cooking, and cleaning.
In today’s world scenario it is very pathetic to see that children do not want to take burden of their parents. But there are few who do really care about them as parents play a vital role in the lives of children. If you go by the law then though more than a dozen states have so-called filial laws on the books requiring adult children to care for indigent parents, only a handful occasionally enforce them. Those states are North and South Dakota, and Pennsylvania.
From the day you are born, they have been your protectors, teachers, providers and role models. As families, they are the core of communities. No matter how changing or challenging the situation might be here are the 15 remarkable ways to show your parents how much you care.
1. Treat parents as your best friends
I remember though I was too young at that time may be 10 or 12 but I used to treat my dad as my friend. I used to share everything as I would like to do with my friend. So talk with your parents as friends which eases your conversation with them and you have the opportunity to explore all the world with them. Talk and share all the fun activities you do like sports, events, work, local neighbourhood issues or politics and see how much they love to get involved with your life around.
According to Dr Tina B Tessina Ph. D a licensed psychotherapist in Long Beach California , a good start is to model your conversations with Mom and Dad on those you have with friends and don’t limit your conversations strictly to family memories, or gossip about family members, or your personal life, but share the whole wide world with them.
2. Laugh together
Does laughing together cost any money? I have seen a family of 10 with their elder parents of 70 age and above who used to spend two hours together after dinner before going to sleep sitting together, playing games, sharing jokes and laughing together. Parents too need to have some lighter moments with you. These humorous moments not only keep you and your parent fit and stress free but also help you bond together.
3. Communicate to your parent about their attitude that bothers you
You love your mum and dad but they seem too possessive about you. Even some elder parents keep on nagging their adult children over trivial issues which irritates many a times. But that attitude of them should not let you show disrespect towards them. I remember once my mom who is now 75 kept on calling me when I was in the middle of an important meeting. I might have felt irritated but in the evening I sat with her and explained to her that what she was doing bothered me and told her that it affected my work and she can call me or talk to me when I am home unless it is an emergency. So if you face any such situation do not seethe silently but speak up gently and respectfully with your parents and solve the issue. They will understand because they love you.
4. You too are now adult and a parent so act accordingly
With elder parents at home it is a bit annoying to them if you do not seek their advice on little things. But now you too have a family and a parent so make them understand that you are good enough to take your own decisions but will also seek their opinion to come to a conclusion. When I wanted to buy a car my mom advised me not to buy as I will be spending so much of money. I took her opinion politely smiled and nodded but I also explained to her that will help her commute to hospitals with ease and she will not spend so much of money in private cabs. I also reassured her that I can bear the financial responsibility to which she too smiled back. So if your parents are bent on offering you advice take it but be decisive on your part as an adult thinking your pros and cons on that decision.
5. Solve your own problems and least bother them
When my dad passed out though I was too young but one of his friends advised me not to rely on my mum’s pension but solve my financials myself. So as yourself an adult now you should not be dependent on them and ask them to support your financial crisis. While you may depend on their emotional support, relying too much upon their resources, rather than your own, can lead to mutual resentment. So get used to solving your problems, big or small, on your own. Not only will this show your parent that now you can independently be on your own but they will appreciate it and be proud of you. This will have a positive effect on your relationship with your parents.
6. Help your parents discover how meaningful their life is/was
These days my mum talks a lot and even if I feel sleepy or tired I nod and listen to her. Elder people want to talk and communicate with you to tell you how they spend their life, their childhood stories, their accomplishments and achievements, and about their friends. So help them discover and uncover their sweet and bitter memories. According to Tom Swanson Ph.D., director of support services education at VistaCare, a hospice care provider in Scottsdale, Arizona let your parents discover the meaning in their lives by encouraging them to talk about their accomplishments, the high points in their lives, and the joys and sorrows they have experienced. Believe me you will gain something from it.
7. Preserve their memories digitally
I love to take pictures of my mom with my cell phone. You too can help your parents preserve their memories on video, audiocassette, or in a scrapbook. The finished product will not only be a testament to a renewed closeness between you, but also provides a wonderful legacy. It was these memories that gave me pleasure and a time to remember my dad whom I had lost as a kid. Your parents will know how much you love them and care for them by preserving their memories. If your parents are older, look through old scrapbooks with them, asking them for stories about the people in the photos and tell them you will love to have their memories too for future remembrance.
8. Let your guilt out
Many a times parents complain to you that you never call them, visit them or forget their birthdays (if you are living far from them), so don’t take the bait and feel guilty unless you honestly regret the oversight. If that is so then you need to apologize immediately and seek a way to make amends. You need to act mature and not to play the parent-child guilt games. Be independent adult, and act on your own volition but do talk to them about your busy schedule or how your own kids are more demanding and assure them that you will do visit them or send them pictures of your own family to them. Your parents will understand your situation and know that you have really grown up.
9. Let know your parents that you have grown up
You are still a child in the eyes of your parent no matter how old you are. If your parents still treat you like a kid, despite the fact that you have kids of your own, you may have to help them let you “grow up.” According to Tina B Tessina licensed psychotherapist feeling and acting like an adult around your parents is the cornerstone of having an adult relationship with them. If you treat them as fellow adults, they’re more likely to treat you like one. A simple way to do this is to ask yourself a question before each interaction with them: “How would I act in this situation if Mom or Dad was a friend or an acquaintance?” Then behave accordingly.
10. Give space to them
There are many adult children or kids who do not give enough space to their parents. Your parents too need their independence and time to be alone. Many a times as a grown up kid you may not want to cut the nurturing relationship off. If you are an adult and still seek mum or dad’s advice on everything or disturb them with your little of things or assume that they will baby sit your children then you are doing wrong. Give them their freedom too to spend time with themselves and do not take your personal petty issues to them.
11. Tell your own kids to respect them
Now you have your own kids but they seldom care of your parents or their grandparents. It is you who need to teach them to be respectful to them and show love and care. Do remember after all one day you too will be old like your parents and will want to look forward the same affection from your grand children. So inculcate a healthy relationship between your parents, spouse and kids. Ask them to spend some time with them and look what smile it will bring to your parent’s face.
12. Fill the generation gap
Often children complain of their parents being not polite to them or being rude to them which seems offensive to you. But you should note there is a generation gap and you need to fill it. I met a 80 year old walking down the street with his grand daughter discussing the latest fashion for women. I was surprised and I asked the old grandpa how he feels about this discussion at this age. He was a wise fellow who replied, Old people need to change according to the time. Well that is true and this is what your parents need and you are the one who have to bring that change in them with times. You need to be honest and clear with them what you want out of your life or what they seek from you. You need to make them understand that times have changed and it is not their old time when things were done the way they now wish you to do. Maybe there are things about your growing up that your parents regret. But as long as you don’t regret it, they have to adjust. Be clear about who you want to be and help your parents accept you on your terms.
13. Involve them in your social life
My mum feels lonely and bored if I leave her alone. So what I do is try my best to get her involve with my social life. Though she cannot walk properly but she can look at places and people sitting in a car while I am driving to the shopping mall. She loves to sit on parks and enjoy the birds and kids playing around. So many old parents who cannot now move out of the house feel bored. You need to take them out for walks, socialize them with people, mingle them with your friends and associates, take them to the parties and clubs (they may sit and enjoy a drink or food). In this way they will have a healthier outlook towards their life and will create a loving bond with you.
14. Look after their health
Older parents need special care so you need to take them to periodic health check ups. You need to take out time from your busy schedule to ask them what health problem they might be facing. Afterall you do not want your parent to be ill and bed ridden. So to keep them stay fit is your responsibility. This care is what they most need in old age.
15. Play games and share common things with them
Your parents too were kids at one time and now at old age also they behave like kids. You need to have fun with them and engage them with playing games. I have seen many grand parents sitting in park playing cards or chess. They love games as much as you or now your kid does. So bring home family games to play together, even a simple game like snake or ladder or pebbles. If your parents can work on computers then it is more good to teach them online games to play. Playing games not only is a time pass for them but also makes them stress free and healthy. How about some casino games?
Also you can share some common games that you like. After all you are there genes right so you must be having some common trait. If your dad loves to hear music or play football and you too then age is no bar. Share the same interest now with them even as you are yourself an adult. Bring some music cds or dvds for them and enjoy together. Or any food you like to have together. My mum loves to read books and so do I and I bring her some interesting books which we both can read and discuss together. You can do baking, shopping, hiking, skiing, carpentry, etc. as at any age, sharing a common task or activity, and the stories it engenders, is a great way to build closeness. So make these happy memories a foundation for your new and shared activities.
Always get a chance to show your gratitude. Remember parents took care of you when you were infant taking care of your every need physical and mental. Now its your time to show the same care. So express your appreciation for all what they have done for you. Your mom used to make delicious cookies or cakes for you and dad brought for you the new toy you wanted. As elder parents still they might be doing something for you, little things which deserve your attention to say thankyou.
Besides these 15 remarkable ways to show your parents how much you care amidst all odds there are many other things you can do to express your love for them even if you are confronting new challenges be it your career changes, personal and health issues, concerns about the future but all these issues should not affect or change your relationship with your parents.
Therefore on Parents Day add mutual respect and common interests and you may find a more fulfilling relationship with your parent than any you’ve had since childhood. Learn to accept them as they are and as they will be and enhance your loving bond because this a relation that is unique, selfless and with unconditional love.