Before I start, please note that this is a generalization. It doesn’t refer to all our adult children, all the time. However, we should be aware that things often change fast when circumstances change, usually unexpectedly. Interestingly, of the thousands of talks I have delivered in thirty years, this is the most popular discourse I present.
We love our children and we want the best for them. However, there are certain threats and rising threats that we Seniors should be aware of and plan for. The Chinese have a saying, “Dig the well before you thirst.” First, I will share some ugly home truths and threats, with which many of us, sadly, are intimate, albeit sometimes privately, and then I will provide you with some hopefully welcome, proven solutions.
The reasons why these threats are so prevalent in our modern-day society are obvious to all who observe how things are changing under ubiquitous Liberalism. The Peter Pan Syndrome, that is children who grow into adults but never mature – men who stay boys in their minds – is evident to many of us. The entitlement mentality of spoilt adult children who demand ever more and give less and less, who feel they have a right to that which they didn’t earn, is endemic.
And so a large number of adult children live off their elderly parents and women from broken marriages often leave the unfortunate children of those marriages with their struggling senior parents to raise. There are adult men living at home, refusing to marry or take responsibility for their lives, depleting their declining parents’ life-savings and waiting for their parents to die so that they can inherit, then being disappointed that we take so long to shuffle off this mortal coil, thereby solving all the debts incurred by our undisciplined, intemperate adult offspring.
Too many children harbor passive aggression against their aging parents who are taking too long to die and solve all their financial woes. After all, isn’t that the reason why so many of our children fail to plan for their financial future? They reason that Mom and Dad will soon be dead – they’re in their sixties already – so why save? Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we inherit! This passive aggression is often manifested in bullying, neglect, and financial abuse.
Let Granny sell her comfortable apartment, leave her dear friends and familiar surroundings, and move halfway across the country to live in the cold basement our house – the one she gave us the money for – and look after the kids while we party and work. Until Gran gets dementia – every ten minutes, someone in Canada is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia – or breaks a hip, thereby becoming a burden to her busy kids, that is. Then the pawpaw hits the fan.
An objective Mr. Spock from Star Trek might say that our children may be our greatest blessing, but also our greatest threat because of our emotional attachment to them.
I have witnessed an adult daughter who blackmailed her retired parents by telling them that if they refused to spend the same amount of time with her unmanageable, difficult older son with Downs Syndrome as with the younger one with whom they had spent a glorious six years of building a happy relationship, they would no longer be allowed to see either grandson. She deprived her own son of a future relationship with his doting grandparents and his grandparents of any contact with her son.
Blackmail and manipulation take many forms, and often they are financial. If you don’t pay for the holiday, you won’t be coming with us. If you don’t babysit all week, every week, you won’t see your grandchildren. Many grandparents bribe their kids to obtain time with them, depleting their savings by paying for cruises and expensive gifts in order to be included and acknowledged.
Adult children become become indignant and upset when Mom wants to remarry in her old age because they may miss out on some inheritance. And how dare she spend our money on cruises? That’s our inheritance she’s wasting!
Now you may not presently be the victim of any financial, physical, or emotional abuse, blackmail, or manipulation, however, things can change overnight. A doting child gets married or starts living with someone who doesn’t like you, is demanding, has another agenda, or brings kids from another marriage into the family. Mortgage rates go up, someone loses a job, a marriage breaks up, someone gets transferred to another city or province or state, someone gets ill or dies, and everything is different – quickly and unexpectedly. Then a lot of the above issues could occur simultaneously.
How can we avoid these problems and prepare for them? After all, we’re getting older, with less energy, less resilience, perhaps less money as medical expenses spiral, and sometimes, unfortunately, fewer faculties. An excellent book I’m reading via Leader Impact says that we should always ask ourselves three questions about any decision: 1. What is the wisest thing to do in light of my past experience? 2. What is the wisest thing to do in light of my present circumstances? 3. What is the wisest thing to do in light of my future plans? Here are a few useful tips:
- Form a strong Support Group – among Seniors, in your church, among friends. And find yourself a good lawyer and accountant to run things by and protect you.
- Find a solid social worker and doctor that you can turn to for advice.
- Find out about the many home support services like Nurse Next Door – these people will serve you professionally, reliably, gratefully, punctually, and with a smile, and ultimately they will be a lot more affordable than your own progeny. Using a cab or home delivery service eliminates the need for help from your offspring. Become as independent as possible.
- Consider downsizing and finding a home that doesn’t have stairs or an elevator. Get your ego out of the way.
- Be frugal: save, cut unnecessary costs, and realize that you’re likely to live a long time. We can’t rely on the government. Remember, the government allows lavish spending of taxpayers’ money on mentally and physically disabled children, but not on Seniors. We need to take care of ourselves.
- Bear in mind that you are NOT responsible for your adult children and their misguided decisions. Don’t be like a good friend of mine who has allowed his psychopathic, predator son to rip him off financially for at least 24 years of which I am aware, because of my friend’s guilt for past, bad decisions he made. We need to learn to forgive ourselves, ask forgiveness of others when it’s appropriate, and move on.
- Prepare: food stored, money saved, will in order, a safe environment, strong friendships and a caring support group, professional help, access to financial and legal assistance, and objective decision-making. The less your children know about your finances, the better. The executor of your will should not be one of your children.
Finally, other Seniors understand and can offer good advice. Young people seldom understand our problems. Bear this in mind. Our company, IPS Safety Inc., provides protection and safety for Seniors and peace of mind and savings for their Caregivers. I present this talk regularly for Seniors in the Greater Vancouver District and on Radio. I turn 65 early next year.
IPS Safety Inc.