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Switching Roles: Constructive Conversations between Elder Parent’s and Adult Children

people-1394377_1920One of my favorite shows currently streaming on Netflix is Grace and Frankie, starring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin as quirky friends navigating through their later years together. In one episode, Grace (Fonda) and Frankie (Tomlin) simultaneously throw out their backs and struggle to get to the phone to call for help. The next episode begins with one of Frankie’s sons giving both characters’ medical alert buttons to wear around their necks in case of an emergency. The remainder of the show follows the women as they grapple with aging and the reality of their situations.

The episode resonated with me as my grandparents who live on their own have experienced some health issues recently, and the family has discussed plans of action regarding their living situation and lifestyle.

There comes a time in the cycle of life when the parent and the child seem to switch roles. The elder parent finds their adult children now taking care of them, telling them how best to live their life, and encouraging them to consider the dreaded idea of “assisted living.” Adult children just want the best for their parents but find their parent’s resistance to being frustrating and burdensome to their life. How can adult children approach conversations with their elderly parent’s about getting older so that they are constructive and won’t cause damage to the relationship?

  1. Be Respectful. Getting older is an adjustment, suddenly things don’t work like they use to and figuring out to manage those changes can be difficult. Be mindful of your tone and how you are speaking to your adult parent. Speaking to your parent like they are a child can be humiliating for them and make them feel worse about the situation.
  2. Listen to what’s not being said. Admitting to your adult child that you are struggling with your daily routine may be hard. Your parent may state their challenges in less direct ways, so pay attention and actually to listen to what they are saying.
  3. Find solutions together. Including your elderly parent’s in decisions regarding their care is important so that they feel empowered. You could say, ” Mom, I know it is important to you to continue living on your own, but I’m worried about you falling again. What are some possible solutions we can think of that with meet both of our needs?” However, in some cases, elder parents cannot fully participate in these discussions so working collaboratively with other members of the family such as siblings is important to find the best solution for all parties involved.
  4. Consult professionals. Sometimes knowing if you are making the right decision can be challenging, therefore, consulting with an Elder Care Specialist may provide you and your family with the guidance you need to move forward.
  5. Check out additional resource outlets. Over the course of the last eight years, we have had experts on our program discuss how to manage the delicate relationship between aging parents and their adult children. One program with Carolyn Rodis examines how to get your aging parents and adult siblings to communicate more productively. This excellent program and others can all be located in our podcast library under Family and then Elder Care.

Getting older can be a sensitive time for both elderly parents, their adult children, and key family members. Learning to navigate through that period in a constructive manner is necessary to maintain a healthy relationship and keep all parties happy.

 

Have a Great Week,

Abigail R.C. McManus

Guest Blogger/ Host

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Deadlock Negotiations – Using the Right Key to Unlock the Solution

lock-179583_1920Imagine yourself in a negotiation with someone – it could be over a car price; where to go on vacation with your family; or even something more significant like a salary increase for years of hard work. Whatever you’re negotiating you’ve come to the point in the conversation where neither you nor the other person is willing to budge from their position. Whether you call it a deadlock, a stalemate, or an impasse, it all means the same thing. Your conversation isn’t going anywhere, and you are not finding any solutions.

Why do impasses occur?

One reason an impasse occurs is that the parties are working from their positions or their rigid stance of what they want as the outcome rather than from their interests or actual needs. You know the saying, “I want what I want.” Nothing wrong with that concept except when the other person wants something different that doesn’t align with your outcome. The more people hold onto their positions, the more difficult it is to negotiate a mutual solution.

A second reason an impasse may occur is that we stop being creative in looking for solutions to our issue. We see a direct line to the resolution, however, if the other party disagrees with the path, we believe it is our job to convince them that our way is the right way. Instead of figuring out their needs and working with them to come up with creative solutions that could satisfy all party’s needs, we block the path.

A common negotiation I experienced when I use to waitress was requesting time off with the other servers. Asking for time off could become tough especially if multiple servers wanted off which limited the number of people to cover and required some to work doubles. Therefore, you would reach an impasse because both the other server and I want off and need someone to cover our shift.

How can you move past an impasse?

* Take a Break.  If you and the other party have been negotiating for some time, and it doesn’t appear you are going anywhere, take a break, get some fresh air and reconvene. Taking some time away might assist with new ideas and solutions when you come back to the table.

* Ask questions. If you and the other parties are focusing on your positions, you are discounting the interests, values, and concerns the other party might have that is driving their position. Ask questions to get to the bottom of what they need or want out of the negotiation. So to go back to my example I could ask other servers what they were doing that they needed the day off? Perhaps upon asking questions, we learn that I need the day off to go to a doctor’s appointment, and another server is taking off to go to the pool with the girlfriends.

*Brainstorm Creative Options. People will often limit their outcomes when they are negotiating because they are looking to meet their desires only and fear to get creative. Creativity in conflict often leads to the best outcomes for all parties. So when you are negotiating with another party listen to their interests, values, and concerns and determine commonalities and differences. Then work to generate any and all possible solutions that fit those everyday needs and what each person is willing to do to meet the different interests. They don’t have to make exact sense; they can be completely outlandish, and it is important not to discount any ideas.

So to go back to my requesting time off example, we could negotiate that I would reschedule my doctor’s appointment for a different day and the other server would get off. Or, she would reschedule her pool day with girlfriends, and I would get off. But, if we got creative; perhaps we learned that my appointment was in the earlier part of the shift and her pool day with girlfriends wasn’t schedule until later part. We negotiate that she would work until my doctor’s appointment was over and I would then come in to work so she could leave and meet her friends. The unique solutions we could come up with could satisfy both our needs and move us past an impasse.

Listen to our podcast, Negotiation 101: Building Blocks For Getting What You Need for more insights into everyday negotiations

 

Happy Negotiating,

Abigail R.C. McManus M.S Negotiation and Conflict Management

Apprentice

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Negotiate with Success: The Top 3 Negotiation Blunders, Breakthroughs and Solutions

Corine WoffordWhat would it take to make you a more confident negotiator?   Would you like to know …

–  Simple no-cost things you can do to save time, money

and energy before you ever think about negotiating?

–  The top 3 negotiation blunders, breakthroughs, and solutions

–  Tips on handling counter-productive behavior and the #1 thing you must never negotiate

Join Corine Wofford and discover how to Put Your Power On and Confidently Negotiate with Success for great results in your professional and personal life!

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How to SOLVE Your Conflicts

 

We often long to solve conflict and the question becomes how. On today’s program Eileen Dowse will share her SOLVE™ model as an easy approach for you to work through issues and develop lasting solutions. This process offers techniques for expanding interpersonal communications and building better relationships in the future.

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