Let me start by saying that my amazing parents are living in their own home and are very intelligent and capable people. They are, however, definitely technologically challenged as many 80somethings are. Further, I can see how what many of my friends have experienced with their older parents is becoming a possibility with my folks too. This is on my radar as I drive down to their house to teach them how to use a smart phone and plan a trip to Alabama.
What I mean is that I can see how they need more from their kids, just as we needed them when we were growing up. It is the mundane things that they were able to handle themselves back in the day that now takes them twice as long because they do not understand the internet and life without “paper”. It is looking up information without going to the library, making reservations without using a landline or travel agent, and banking without a printed statement!
My parents were my caregivers for the first 20 years of my life. Did they always do a good job? Of course not! Did I always feel supported and understood? No. Was I provided for? Most of the time. What they did best was pray for me, lead me to Jesus, create a “family” of friends and others who mentored, trained and extended their reach. They did their best.
I know there are differences between my parenting styles and theirs. I am very much aware that there are realities that come into play because they are consenting adults and they are not my kids! And yet, there are parts of parenting that impact our relationship moving forward. They have never been this age before and parts of it may be scary or frustrating. Many of their friends have already made it safely home and are no longer available to lean on for advice or friendship. They can’t do all the things they used to do as independently as they used to do them.
It is my prayer to never need my kids when I get old (I am a 5 on the enneagram) but I probably will. I pray that they will notice the ways that I have cared for their grandparents with kindness, patience and generosity. May we all have courage to walk together in love all the way home.