It is an exceedingly common scenario: you see that your parents are behind on the bills or haven’t filed their taxes or missed doctors’ appointments. Perhaps their homes have even become cluttered or smelly to the point of being unlivable. When you notice this, you try and offer your help only to be met with aggression, defensiveness, and unwillingness to receive help. What do you do? Through this article, you can learn how to deal with loved ones who refuse help. However, first, it is important to understand why they are acting this way in the first place.
Understand Why Your Parents Refuse Help
In your eyes, your parents are just being stubborn and proud by refusing help. However, what you’re witnessing is just the tip of the iceberg. What you don’t see are the various changes in health and mental state that they’ve undergone as they age. Aging is scary, and people react differently to it. In the blink of an eye, it seems as though their independence is snatched away from them and it’s common to lash out. Oftentimes, the roles become reversed; the parent is now being parented. This causes major shifts in identity.
Realize That They Have The Right to Refuse
The most crucial aspect of offering help to anyone is that they have the right to refuse your help. You can never force your help on anyone including your parents as this is a breach of their autonomy. As adults who are able to consent, they should decide for themselves whether they want your help. The best thing that you can do is to be there and assure them that you will offer them help whenever they need it.
How to Broach The Topic
The best way to broach the topic of getting help is to start early before a crisis arises. What this means is don’t wait till they have sustained a fall to clean the house or wait till they are given late fees to get their bills sorted. Have this conversation early so that they are well-prepared in case an emergency arises.
Get Trusted People Onboard
The fact of the matter is that parents will find it difficult to listen to our advice. The role reversal is jarring so it’s important to be smart about it. For example, if you are trying to convince them that they should undergo a medical procedure, it’s best to enlist their primary care physician. Alternatively, a friend and neighbor could help with personal family matters. The point is just because they won’t listen to you that doesn’t mean that they won’t listen to other trusted people.
Working collaboratively means that you don’t talk down to your parents. It is important to ask for their opinion as they will be living with the choices. Moreover, a solution that you can come up with together is likely going to be more beneficial than what you could have thought of yourself. Remember to adopt a respectful communication practice.