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Don't Be A Tiger Child

Hi Everyone,

Happy Wednesday!!! We hope that everyone enjoyed their Memorial Day weekend and we want to send a special thank you to all of the men and women who served our country.  Thank you for your service and dedication.

Typically, Memorial Day is the kickoff to our summer season with many of you likely having barbeques and spending time with family.  Sometimes during these gatherings we can be reminded of just how much our parents are aging.   For those of you with aging parents, we wanted to take a moment to discuss Tiger Children

In 2011, Amy Chau coined the phrase “Tiger Mom.”  This term describes parents that closely manage a child’s routine and strictly enforces rules around studying and extracurricular activities.  Today, we have the phrase “Tiger Child,” a child that micromanage their aging parents’ lives.      

Although it can be difficult helping parents with diminishing capacities, it’s important to remember to be delicate during this time of transition and not to immediately micromanage.  The aging process happens at different stages.  In the beginning stages it’s typically best to approach these subjects lightly.  The bottom line is that communication is key.  Consider the following before you attempt to converse with your parents about aging, capacity, and their wishes:

  1. Choose the appropriate time: Do not attempt to speak with your parents about estate planning or end of life care during family functions.  Although many find this a convenient time to do so, trying to have these discussions during family time can be interpreted as an ambush or as inappropriate. Keep family fun time for celebration and set another date to discuss these important matters.
  2. Set Realistic Expectations: It can be extremely overwhelming discussing end of life care, finances, and important documents such as your Power of Attorney or Medical Proxy.  Sometimes it’s best not to talk about everything all at once.  Pick one or two items and set an agenda about what you’d like to discuss.  Anecdotes also help ease the tension when bringing up these conversations – e.g. “Mom, did you know Sally’s mom just moved in with her? Is this something you’d ever consider?”
  3. Avoid Blanket Promises – Many times, parents will try and get their children to make blanket promises when it comes to their future.  “Whatever you do, promise me you will never put me in a nursing home.”  Children, wanting to please their parents in this situation, will typically just agree to any of these types of requests.  As difficult as it is this conversation requires honesty and humility.  There is no way of promising what the future will look like.  We find that this language can be most helpful: “I want to honor your wishes and I will do whatever I can to try and do so, but I can’t promise a certain action when I don’t know what your future needs will be and what my capabilities will be.  This is why I want to know as much information about your thoughts and concerns as I can now.”

These conversations are delicate and important, but remember, going into full-fledged control mode can sometimes do more harm than good.  Be sensitive, direct, and thoughtful before you engage in such a dialogue.  Although it may seem like you need to jump in and take over everything all at once, every situation is different and should be approached strategically and with sensitivity.  Keep the topics you need to address top of mind and work through them in a systemized manner.  This will keep everyone calm, the lines of communication open, and everybody a lot happier in the end.

Until next time,

Amy