Don’t be afraid to ask. The worst that can happen is they’ll say no.
I admit it. I’m terrible with confrontation and tend to avoid it at all costs. I want everyone to be happy. Of course I know I can’t control that. But I try. With the encouragement of my husband, I’ve gotten much better at speaking up for myself. I’ve learned there’s no harm in asking for something. It doesn’t hurt to try.
This past weekend I had to deal with a tough issue I didn’t want to face. Here’s what happened. My husband and I hosted a couple of large parties to celebrate my beautiful mom’s 80th birthday and Easter. Our daughters, Mackenzie and Talee, were home for the weekend. And one of my sisters, who lives in another state, came to stay with us. It was more than amazing to have a house filled with love and laughter.
It sounds great, and most of it was. But while my two sisters and I were here, in one place (which doesn’t happen often), we had family business to attend to.
Mom is 80 and Dad is 87. We’re blessed, as they’re both relatively healthy, independent, and happy. I won’t go into details, but basically, we’ve realized that since Dad is having difficulties moving around, Mom needs to do more, and Dad needs to do less. This means grocery shopping, getting the cars filled with gas, and running errands. Our parents are used to their own routines and despise change, especially Dad.
In the evening, after the first party was over, my sisters and I were lounging and chatting in the family room. My husband and brother-in-law joined us. Our conversation soon led to Mom and Dad’s issues. We agreed we needed to voice our concerns directly to our parents. And that it must be done by all three sisters together, to have the greatest impact.
As far as avoiding confrontation, my sisters are exactly like me. So who’s going to lead this? We’ve been dreading the tough conversations that often need to be had between aging parents and their children. We knew this was coming. And it was just the beginning.
That night I was anxious. I didn’t want our parents to feel like we were ganging up on them. I wasn’t sure how they’d take it. I went to sleep worrying and woke up anticipating a difficult day. I felt bad because I’d worked so hard to make this a perfect weekend. This wasn’t supposed to be part of it.
To make a long story short, our discussion went very well. Phew. Dad agreed to slow down, and Mom said she’ll take on some of Dad’s usual responsibilities. No one was angry, and our parents understood our concern. We felt relieved that we said what we wanted to say.
Confrontation usually has a negative connotation. But it doesn’t always have to be that way. Fortunately in our situation, there was a positive outcome.
The next day was Easter Sunday, which meant going to church and preparing for our second family party that weekend. Daffodils and sprays of brightly colored flowers decorated our tables, and platters of food sat on the buffet. I looked around at the twenty of us, laughing and enjoying each other, smiling for pictures, and listening to the youngest one blurting out words she’s just learning to pronounce. I took a deep breath. Enjoy this. Enjoy it all — the good times as well as the challenges. We’re all here, together.
By the end of the weekend, I was exhausted and exhilarated. It felt like I had just taken an emotional roller coaster ride. But you know what? I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Image courtesy of: http://time.com/3546808/advice-stay-calm-difficult-situations/