Why Won't My Parent Listen to Me? (Part 1)
Updated: May 30
If you're the child of someone you are caring for, the situation can be difficult and trying in ways that an unrelated caregiver might not experience. The family relationship dynamics will always be in play and you might often feel at your wit’s end. These dynamics can often lead to additional stressors and obstacles to overcome when trying to give care. And most of the time we are not quite aware of the additional hurdles we face. Here are some explanations of situations or dynamics you might encounter when caregiving for a family member
You’re Still the Baby
A common occurrence when caring for a relative or parent is the constant dismissal of your opinions or input because they still see you as a child. Maybe you spent significant time with a loved one when you were 10 years old and now when they encounter you, it’s difficult for them to update the relationship and their interactions with you. This dynamic and its difficulties are most common in child-parent caregiving situations. Parents have spent so much of their lives viewing a child as something they must protect and every critical decision they made was with their children in mind. Perhaps they feel that they are still the “authority figure” or that they must maintain a facade of strength in order to spare you any undue stress. This can often lead to family caregivers being given insufficient information that could help the person being cared for. These kinds of dynamics can often turn sour when a loved one feels that they are being pandered to or perhaps becoming a burden. They may even begin to snap at advice or try to steer the conversation away. They may say things like “What do you know, when you were xx years old you did xx” and try to use this logic to dismiss your current intent. When situations like these arise, it’s important to keep cool and not allow comments like these to detract you from the main mission: their health and well-being, as well as yours!
You’re Just Fault Finding and Fibbing
Another major reason elderly parents might not listen is that as children, we can become so worried and focused on the issues our parents are facing that, though we mean well, the steady stream of “caring” for them can feel like we’re just finding faults in all that they do. Parents can quickly feel like everyone is nagging them to change or to take this medicine or to do this or do that. On top of their health problems, they start to feel overwhelmed by others nagging them. On the other side of the coin, many caregivers have a desire and a need to feel needed and appreciated for their efforts. If they begin to feel that many of their efforts are met with disdain or completely ignored, they may begin to question their efforts. This is especially true with child-parent dynamics as it never feels great to be ignored by a parent, especially when you’re trying to help them. This dynamic can cause either party to withdraw, avoid that person or the subject altogether and ultimately leads to a breakdown in the caregiver-recipient relationship. And that is not good for anyone, especially not the caregiving recipient. Sometimes caregiving recipients don’t quite remember all of the things they are meant to do, especially if they are having to change their routines and have undergone new health regimens. So when they feel nagged about a certain area of their health, they may feel as though their caregiver is lying about what they must do or forgot to do. There are few helpful solutions to this such as keeping a journal about these health regimens. A caregiver should have their own journal that keeps track of major changes in the regimen as well as the schedule and doses of any medications. And for the care recipient, they can have a version that they can even decorate and color to ensure they are familiar with their medications, their doses, and important routines they should keep.