An aging father values his independence
My 82-year-old father doesn’t want my help and becomes angry when I suggest that he hire someone for yard work and housework. Yesterday I dropped by unexpectedly and he was on a ladder cleaning gutters. He didn’t see me but I hurried toward him. As he made his way down, he missed a step and tumbled. I half-caught him as fell on top of me. No broken bones, only bruises. But instead of thanking me, he yelled at me. I’m frustrated but also scared that if I leave him alone like he asks me to, something terrible will happen and I’ll feel guilty. What do you think I should do?
Be less obedient to the thoughts that say something terrible will happen. It might or it might not. But when you let worries repeat in your head, you’re giving those thoughts power and credibility. After that, it’s easy to convince yourself that something terrible is about to happen. You might even unconsciously contribute to creating a crisis. That’s called a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you’re going to put so much energy into a thinking process, why not invest in thoughts that will bring you joy?
Let’s talk about aging. Your dad isn’t ready to lean on you. He pushes aside your offers of help because he prizes his independence. He doesn’t see himself as an aging parent on the brink of disaster. His self-image is of a person capable of caring for himself and his home. To convince him otherwise might cause irreparable harm. After all, you didn’t say that he’s suffered any accidents or problems. You’re just afraid that he might.
There’s likely another issue. To rely on you would mean he could become dependent on you. Can you imagine how vulnerable that might feel for him? So while it’s loving to remind him that you’re available if he needs you, it’s unkind to assert that he needs assistance because he’s old. Actually, that pattern of thinking is what’s old. Maybe it’s time to let fear die. Instead, enjoy being with your dad as he takes care of himself and his home.
Why are so many millennials diagnosed with depression and anxiety? My daughter and so many of her friends say they have anxiety or depression. I don’t understand why so many kids are struggling.
People used to complain that there were too many lawsuits and pointed to an excess of lawyers. Now, there’s a surge in licensed psychologists, social workers and marriage and family therapists—professionals qualified to diagnose mental and emotional health concerns. Millennials have also endured a lot of helicopter parenting, that style of caretaking that leaves children and youth without decision-making skills and with expectations of being rescued from facing problems.
Life is rife with decisions. Without skills, anxiety about making a wrong decision flourishes. Feeling depressed after a decision goes awry is natural, but isn’t seen as such. Another contributing factor: the education system has become an anxiety-and-depression-creation machine. All of this explains some emotional anxiety and depression, but a rise in clinical conditions is likely attributed to a greater understanding of psychology.