How to Call Your Parents

celeste-on-the-phone-600x300I know it sounds easy, but why is it so hard for so many of us? Our parents are aging. They don't want to be a bother.  You often hear seniors say, "Oh, my kids are very busy with their families, and I don't want to bug them."  Sadly many people do not talk to their parents for months or even a year at a time.

What is even more bewildering to me is that some people say, "But if I call, I don't know what to say.  I don't know what to tell them."

Our parents are aging, and their minds and bodies are changing. As we become seniors, we become more childlike.  Our parents need us. It's payback time.

A child needs is food, touch, warmth and love.  Our parents deserve the same. They gave it to us.

If we can step up for at least the love part, then a phone call is very important, especially if our parents are living alone, as a widow, or widower; and even if they live in a seniors home or care facility.

If you need that nudge, here's my basics on how to make that call:

  1. Aim to keep it short. Tell them at the start that you can't talk long, but you called to see how they are doing.  "Hi mom, I can't talk long, but you've been on my mind, and I called to see how you are doing?"
  2. After they answer (they may just say they are 'ok'), ask them what they've been up to. They may not tell you much. Expect that, because for some, they may also not remember.
  3. Have three questions in mind to ask. Write them down if you have to. They may flip it over to discuss you, as not to talk about themselves, but try and get those three questions in during your call.
  4. Have three things to tell them about your life. Write them down if you have to. ie. 1. Your daughter Mary graduated from med school 2. You got a call from an old friend you hadn't see since childhood  3. Your plans for an upcoming vacation.
  5. Some parents may bring up old grievances. If that should happen and you hear the old record player starting up yet again, then 'keep it short'  - as you intended. It's okay to say, "Hey mom, sorry to cut you off, but I have to run now. I'll call again soon."  (and yes you will!)
  6. Always tell them you love them before you hang up, no matter how the conversation went. Some people never hear "I love you"  enough, or are often afraid to say it to others, but your parent needs to hear it. So just say it, because it won't hurt.  The more you say it, the more natural and easy it becomes..."I love you mom."

Make that call today!

(Check out the hashtag #ParentingOurParents on Facebook to get a peek into my life, living with and caring for my 80+ mother)