Are the expectations of your family's elders creating disharmony in the home?

Coming across a situation where there is friction between the elders of the family and the next generation is not uncommon. While we try and tell the youngsters to adjust and take care of their seniors, it is also fair to ask the elders to taper their expectations down as well.

“I don’t know what is wrong with Savita. She is always running around doing things for others and if I even ask her for a cup of tea, she sighs. If I tell her about cooking something in a better way, she loses patient. I know she has too many things to do nowadays with lockdown, and no domestic help, but that doesn’t mean she will ignore me and my needs. I am old and I think she is being  unfair to me,” says Veena, 66-year-old mother-in-law of Savita. 

It is understood that as you age, you need assistance with your chores. It might be the scariest thing that you feel and in order to not feel so, you try and do yourself or expect someone else to do it for you. Like Veena who expects that her daughter-in-law will do  everything for her like the pre-pandemic days. Even though she sees Savita working through the day, that missed cup of tea makes her feel neglected. 

When your children do not answer your concerns or act according to your expectations, you unknowingly start insisting, resisting, or persisting in your own unique way. You either badger them, or pick up arguments and fights with your kids as you feel defensive. But it is important for you to understand that your children might be stressed and overwhelmed. They are probably already facing issues ranging from financial crisis to emotional stresses and these slip-ups can happen. 

The pandemic has got everyone caught up at home without an escape. Staying locked in your own house for days at a stretch, with the same people even if they are your blood relations and family members, can get difficult to manage and affect a healthy relationship. As a senior citizen and a member of the family, try and keep a check on your expectations during such times. 

If your children are trying to move away from you, try and ask yourself the following questions: 

Are you being too over-bearing? Are you being too demanding?

When you ask them what’s bothering them, they usually answer saying ‘Everything is fine’. 

They don’t want to listen to your comments and opinions about the situation as they think that you will make a fuss out of it? 

You always try to tell them how you’ve suffered for them and made their life easier? This might make them feel burdened with looking after your expectations even when they don’t want to. 

 Here are a few suggestions on what you can do:

1) Are you bothering them with the smallest of things? Understand that they have their lives filled with their own troubles. While expecting something from your children is fine, sometimes pitching in and giving up your expectations also diffuses the situation.

Try and differentiate needs that are urgent and those that are unnecessary and then tailor your demands accordingly. 

2) Do you interfere a lot? You need to know that your children are grown enough to take their own actions. Even if you feel that you are trying to help them with your suggestions and opinions it might not help them. Give them a patient hearing but don’t be over bearing on them. Also try not to push your children in telling you about their concerns and if they do, do not to make the situation more difficult for them by giving feedbacks that are negative. 

3) Do you compare your children’s efforts? As an ageing person, you might expect your child to do most of the things for you. You might unknowingly keep a track of the things your kids do for you and for others. Try not to pin-point all the times your son or daughter did something for someone else and how they haven’t done it for you. This might be a trigger for them to feel burdened with your expectations from them. 

 To keep the family harmony balanced, it is essential for senior and elderly people also to not make unnecessary demands and lower their expectations.