My mother always said she didn’t want to live with any of her children. After my father died, my mom decided the family home was too big for her and moved into a condo. Then some years later she decided to move into an independent housing complex for seniors, and there she would tell people, “My children didn’t put me here. I put myself here.”
We had researched different places and went with her to check them out, helped with the downsizing, paperwork, and other arrangements, but I’m grateful she was able to make her own choices and happy to lend my support.
My mom and dad and my parents-in-law have all passed on now, but for families with aging parents, I recommend this newly published resource: Love’s Way: Living Peacefully with Your Family as Your Parents Age by Carolyn Miller Parr and Sig Cohen (Hendrickson Publishers, 2019).
This book has so much to offer and so many strengths that I can’t choose just one:
- the way this book addresses both parents and adult children with respect and compassion,
- the many stories shared by the authors from their own lives and from their work as mediators,
- the consistent approach as much as possible to find solutions that work for everyone in the family,
- the practical tips throughout that cover how to have a difficult conversation, getting along with siblings, handling various legalities and medical decisions, and so much more,
- the helpful list of annotated resources at the end of the book.
Each chapter is written by one or both of the two authors–Carolyn Miller Parr is a retired judge and former pastor, Sig Cohen a former U.S. Foreign Service officer. One is Christian, the other Jewish, both are experienced mediators. Their book is not explicitly religious or theological, but focuses instead on practical help for families.
One other caveat for Canadians and others outside of the U.S.A., you’ll need to check about wills, medical power of attorney, and other legal matters for your area since the book addresses a U.S. audience. Those details may vary depending on where you live, but most of the book centers on larger issues that don’t depend on geography, including communication, family dynamics, resolving competing needs and desires, checking assumptions, learning to let go, knowing what questions to ask and how best to ask them.
Here is how the authors describe their book:
Though we are mediators, this book is not about mediation. It is about how seniors and their children can nurture those relationships that work and heal those that don’t, how family members can listen to each other with understanding and love, and how siblings can learn to put away childhood resentments and embrace the persons their brothers and sisters have become. It’s about how families can plan for the future together, in a way that respects the dignity and autonomy of parents and the emotional and practical needs of children, so that they can grow together in love, even as they embark on the difficult but necessary journey toward the end of life. (page 2)
If you’re an adult concerned for aging parents, if you’re making decisions about the future and wanting to talk with your adult children, this book is an informative and helpful resource.
Thank you to the authors and Hendrickson Publishers for providing me with a complimentary copy of Love’s Way: Living Peacefully with your Family as Your Parents Age by Carolyn Miller Parr and Sig Cohen. As always the choice to review and my opinions are my own.
Writing/Reflection Prompt: When co-author Sig Cohen paid a visit to Portland, he discovered an art venue for seniors called The Geezer Gallery, but when he bought a ticket for the trolley system, he was an Honored Citizen. How do you think of aging and older adulthood?
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