25 Feb Inspiring Joy for our Aging Traditional Parents – is it Possible?
Many of you have asked about happiness for your traditional moms, the matriarchs of the families advice for them if they feel ‘trapped’ in relationships, or feel like its part of their kismet, destiny to be in such a place.
I think the hardest thing it is observe our older parents ‘give up’ among the Asian cultures thinking they are ‘too old’ to experience joy and fulfillment in their lives- and fall into a deep depression (which of course in turn weighs heavily on us). That their only way of living is vicariously through their children, and thus place pressures on them to ‘get married’ ‘settle’ and have children… Well ladies.. be sure to share this with the older women in your lives to rekindle the spark for some joy… Since as we know can be cultivated no matter one the age.
I’m blessed to have grown beautifully deep, and thoughtfully engaging conversations and relationships with my aunts regarding this topic on both filipino and indian sides.
It was never this way- and in fact have only grown closer in the past 3 years that i’ve been living at my highest authentic truth- upon leaving my own marriage.
After losing both of parents in my teen years, my aunts and grandmother all stepped up to the plate in offering their generosity in caring for my brother and I (as best as they could). We did encounter many rocky roads since the relationship was ambiguous and they were all reeling in the losses from my parents dying from cancer and thus were undergoing their versions of depression- which were often taken out on my brother and I. There were even periods where I wouldn’t be on speaking terms with one of my aunts, and this would go back and forth depending on who I was dating at the time.
I realize now (and after a recent family trip) that our family was dealing with some profound emotions which had burdened the entire family severely- thus causing insecure emotions in their own state (of growing older, fearing sickness, etc)…
But- after instilling some purposeful talks (which I’ll share tips on how to do this with your families) we’ve had some incredibly amazing shifts.
1. Find out what excites them
For my aunts, they love travel! Luckily I’ve been fortunate to take them to some places they wouldn’t otherwise be able (or willing to go)… now it has its pros and cons- =) however, having deep empathy and compassion definitely goes along way- for your psyche as well! If budget is a concern, mani/pedis can do wonders- and for their generation we all know that they don’t believe in being pampered since they pamper everyone around them…
2. Help them step out of their comfort zone
I’ve always loved and been a fan of this. They used to get SUPER upset at me for taking them to an unfamiliar neighborhood, or trying different foods- but… now they look forward to our unusual hangouts. (from the opera, to musicals, to live band for some of my traditional aunts- it’s quality time outside the comfort zone)
3. Be diligent
Four years ago I purchased a membership for my aunt and uncle to the gym. The first year it was not used- and I was completely frustrated (i only wanted the best for them! It takes time, and patience…but don’t give up… Happy to report that now they are going to the gym 4x a week. YES!!
4. Get backup
When in doubt, if it’s their health and wellness- i know for my own family, it took my own mom 6 months to finally go see a doctor when she wasn’t feeling well (only to find out that her cancer had spread)…gift them coaches, personal trainers, nutritionists, to back up your cause. As we know, they are more likely to believe people who are unrelated =)
5. Community and like minds
Find opportunities for them to engage with their peers. We all yearn human connection- even for the most unconvincing family members…
At the end of the day We all want the best for those that have served a pivotal point in our lives, and for our aging ladies in our lives- when we are thriving in our own lives- we SO want those we love to do as well! If you’ve got additional tips for our community share below- would LOVE to hear from you…