Resentment Towards Parents – The Caring Generation®
The Caring Generation® – Episode 94 July 14, 2021. On this caregiving program, expert Pamela D Wilson discusses caregiver resentment toward parents and how to release judgments to focus on the future. Guest, psychiatrist Dr. Christian Heim offers tips for caregivers who feel that their lives have been interrupted by caring for parents and ways to have conversations that support caregiving-life balance.
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Resentment Towards Parents – How Caregivers Can Create a Healthy Caregiving-Life Balance
0:00:04.0 Announcer: Caregiving can sometimes feel like an impossible struggle. Caregivers may be torn between taking care of loved ones and trying to maintain balance in life. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. The Caring Generation, with host Pamela D. Wilson, is here to focus on the conversation of caring. You’re not alone. In fact, you’re in exactly the right place to share stories and learn tips and resources to help you and your loved ones. So now, please welcome the host of The Caring Generation, Pamela D. Wilson.
Managing Resentment Towards Aging Parents
Watch More Videos About Caregiving and Aging on Pamela’s YouTube Channel
0:00:38:76 Pamela D Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, speaker, consultant, and guardian of The Caring Generation. The Caring Generation focuses on the conversation of caring. Giving us permission to talk about aging, the challenges of caregiving, and everything in between. It’s no surprise that needing care or becoming a caregiver changes everything. The Caring Generation is here to guide you along the journey to let you know that you’re not alone.
0:0:1:05:63 Pamela D Wilson: You’re in exactly the right place to share stories, learn tips and resources to help you and your loved ones plan for what’s ahead. Invite your aging parents, spouses, family, and friends to listen to the show each week. This week the subject is resentment towards parents. Adult children may hold grudges or resentment towards parents for many reasons.
0:01:31:95 Pamela D Wilson: When caregiving becomes a life role, and adult children feel that they are putting their lives on hold to accept the responsibility of care for a parent—prior resentments or grudges can grow. We will talk about how resentment towards parents happens and the benefits of moving past grudges and focusing on moving on to the future. We’ll also talk about the importance of having great communication skills to support positive relationships with everyone in our lives.
0:02:07:66 Pamela D Wilson: The guest for this program is Dr. Christian Heim. Dr. Heim is an award-winning Psychiatrist, Music Professor, and Churchill fellow. During his 20 years as a doctor, 13 as a psychiatrist, he has heard the stories of 1000s of people. Combining science, entertainment, and large doses of Australian humor, he speaks from a place of deep compassion and authority on mental health issues affecting us all in this new normal that include: anxiety, depression, addictions, personality issues, trauma, suicide, and relationship breakdowns.
0:02:50:51 Pamela D Wilson: He joins us to talk about relationship challenges in caring for aging parents that include having different values that can result in resentment towards parents. Let’s talk about how resentment towards parents happens, to understand better how relationships with parents can go off track. Feeling resentful in any part of our lives can result from feeling unsupported or unappreciated.
0:03:23:50 Pamela D Wilson: Both of these feelings are part of being a caregiver. Caregivers give time and money to the care of aging parents. Some sacrifice or delay education, careers, marriage, time with friends, social activities, and more. Making these sacrifices makes it easier to see that adult children can feel resentment when parents fail to show appreciation. This aspect of resentment towards parents can be complicated in cultures where dedication to the care of parents is a priority.
0:04:02:07 Pamela D Wilson: I know many caregivers who feel resentment towards parents who would never think of talking about the sacrifices they are making in their own lives. Because the sacrifice for the family is expected, caregivers may feel that burdening a parent with their feelings is inappropriate. Caregivers in these situations may say, “who am I to burden my parent or cause bad feelings?
04:33:79 Pamela D Wilson: My parent’s life is more important than mine.” But—is this an accurate statement if the adult child is carrying resentment towards parents inside and not talking to anyone about how they feel. Taking this situation to an extreme, imagine that the aging parent has no idea of the emotional or physical stress the caregiver is experiencing. they have no idea of the high level of resentment towards parents—because the caregiver is choosing to withhold this information from interactions with parents.
05:14:64 Pamela D Wilson: But do you think that resentment towards parents can be hidden 100% forever? If you are a caregiver in this situation, do you feel anger, frustration, hostility, bitterness, or conflict about caring for a parent? Does your mind continually dwell on feelings of resentment? Is your relationship with mom or dad happy or stress-filled?
05:43:76 Pamela D Wilson: Ask yourself, do you provide the best care possible or the best care that you can based on the circumstances of how you feel. Caregivers who feel resentment towards parents may put their lives on hold, waiting for a parent to die. While this may sound odd—it’s true. Many caregivers keep going through the day-to-day motions of caregiving while waiting for mom or dad to die so that they can take their priorities off the back burner and move on with the caregiver’s life.
06:22:87 Pamela D Wilson: Why does this happen? Each situation is different. When caregivers feel unable to discuss their feelings with aging parents and disagreements occur, the relationship can arrive at a stalemate. The caregiver and the care receiver can have stubborn, negative, or narrow-minded behaviors and be unwilling to look at ways to move a situation forward. Let’s look at an example.
06:55:62 Pamela D Wilson: You are the caregiver for a parent who needs a lot of help. Mom or dad may have mobility difficulties to the degree that it’s probably not safe for them to be home alone. A loss of hearing or vision may be another concern. Add to these health concerns – diabetes that requires insulin, memory loss, or another condition that results in daily worries about the safety of a parent. You, as the caregiver, must work to support your family.
07:30:01 Pamela D Wilson: Mom or dad calls you ten times during the day at work to ask questions that are not urgent, or maybe they just call out of boredom. Your preference is to move mom or dad to a nursing home so that you can focus on your job and your family and so that your parent receives care. You’ve tried to have this discussion, but mom or dad refuses to consider leaving their home to move to a care community.
08:01:77 Pamela D Wilson: How do you put this situation in perspective so that the level of resentment towards parents that you feel doesn’t cloud your thoughts or judgment?. What is most important to you? What are the things that you won’t give up—your marriage, job, something else? Where are you willing to do to be flexible? What are the alternatives that exist that no one has considered? Is there any way to compromise to come to a middle ground?
0:08:35:45 Pamela D Wilson: Are you, as the caregiver, ready to walk away from this relationship, or do you want to preserve the relationship? In thinking about having this conversation with a parent, it’s crucially important to be fully transparent even if you are uncomfortable expressing your feelings. Asking questions is vital because it is very easy to hear what mom or day says but truly not understand the meaning. The same goes the other way. Your parents may listen to what you are saying but may not understand the intention of your words.
0:09:19:65 Pamela D Wilson: Conversations stemming from resentment towards parents when a stalemate over caregiving responsibilities arise can be difficult, intimidating, draining, emotional, and result in hurt feelings on both sides, even if the conversation seemed to go well. Therefore, the goal is to initiate and maintain ongoing communication about differing opinions or gaps in expectations about caregiving responsibilities.
0:09:7900 Pamela D Wilson: To make progress means having a sincere interest in finding solutions that can work for both sides. A win-win, not a win-lose arrangement. Agreeing can be difficult if you are that caregiver who has been holding onto resentment towards parents for years while your parent knew nothing of your feelings. Your parent may be surprised and feel like you are springing your emotions on them. Try not to jump to conclusions or make suggestions.
0:10:31:10 Pamela D Wilson: Listening and asking questions can help continue this conversation to help you arrive at a place where you feel supported or appreciated. However, it’s also important not to assume that others understand what we need to feel supported or appreciated unless we expressly tell them. While we may think we know what others want, we can make inaccurate assumptions and not fully understand without having a detailed conversation or even several detailed conversations.
11:06:06 Pamela D Wilson: Might it be possible that part of the resentment towards parents stems from an inability to speak up and accurately communicate the caregiver’s needs? A caregiver’s desire not to upset a parent or make waves can result in hesitance to speak up instead, you say yes all of the time when thinking no. Being agreeable contributes to growing amounts of resentment towards parents when the caregiver is the one putting more into the relationship.
0:11:44:32 Pamela D Wilson: It takes effort to remain close with parents and to maintain relationships with spouses, and friends. Being transparent, honest, and specific about the caregiver’s needs and the care goal of the relationship is essential to balancing care relationships. In relationships where resentment has been present for some time, it can be challenging to avoid critical or negative beliefs and look for the positives or the opportunities ahead.
12:18:93 Pamela D Wilson: Negative thoughts that we think, are detractors because they affect our beliefs and can cause us to act in a particular manner. Are you aware of how your frustrations and resentment appear to others? Are you presenting yourself and acting in a positive manner in the relationship with your parents and your family and at work? It can be challenging to separate resentment towards parents when caregiving burns up the joy in life from other relationships.
0:12:54:00 Pamela D Wilson: More on resentment towards parents in the second half of the program. Next, Dr. Christian Heim joins us to discuss relationships breakdowns resulting from caring for aging parents and what we can do to create a healthier caregiving–life balance. If this is the first time you are joining the show, welcome. Thanks for being here. I know your time is precious!
13:17:98 Pamela D Wilson: The Caring Generation is not limited by time zone or location—caregivers worldwide can listen any time of day. The show and the transcript that you can read to find links to research and other helpful information mentioned during the program are on my website at pameladwilson.com. Click on the Media Tab and then The Caring Generation. This is Pamela Wilson, caregiving expert, author, and speaker on The Caring Generation. Stay with me; I’ll be right back.
0:14:15:71 Pamela D Wilson: This is Pamela D Wilson, caregiving expert, eldercare consultant, and speaker on The Caring Generation. Welcome back. Helpful information for caregivers and aging adults are in my book: The Caregiving Trap: Solutions for Life’s Unexpected Changes, available on my website www.PamelaDWilson.com where you can also check out my caregiver course online, Taking Care of Elderly Parents: Stay at Home and Beyond,
0:14:40:34 Pamela D Wilson: with 30 hours of webinars and other information featuring practical steps for how to take care of elderly parents and make a plan for aging and health. It’s never too early to make a plan to live the best life possible today and in your later years.
0:14:59:41 Pamela D Wilson: We are back to talk about caregiving relationships with aging parents and how to manage relationship challenges including resentment. I’d like you to meet Dr. Christian Heim.
0:15:10:85 Pamela D Wilson: Dr. Heim thank you so much for joining me for the program.
0:15:13:90 Dr. Christian Heim: That’s fine. It’s my pleasure to be here Pamela.
0:15:16:58 Pamela D Wilson: So I work with a lot of caregivers who are Gen Z and Millenials between the ages of 18 to 34. A lot of them have moved back into their parent’s homes and became caregivers for the first time because of COVID and this has resulted in some relationship challenges. I found a post on your website that talks about childhood templates affecting adult lives. Can you talk about how this happens?
0:15:41:66 Dr. Christian Heim: Just to talk about that I’ll go about the basics of parenting. So. as you know Pamela the whole aim of having a child is to have an independent adult at the end. Right? And so how does a child learn to do that? First of all, they inherit a lot of things from you. But they also learn a lot of things by seeing you model certain behaviors. And so these behaviors become like childhood templates. So let’s take a very basic childhood template. If you grow up in a family that has dinner at 6:30 every night then as an adult you will tend to want to have dinner around 6:30. So that’s what I call a childhood template. And there are thousands and thousands of childhood templates that we pick up along the way.
0:16:26:85 Pamela D Wilson: And are some of them good, better than others, are some of them bad?
0:16:32:24 Dr. Christian Heim: Given that there are so many templates the majority of them are good because they help us get through life and we take all of these for granted. Just the childhood template that you get out of bed around 7 o’clock in the morning and get ready to do something in the morning. However, there can be some problematic childhood templates. So let’s say that you grow up with one parent who decides, okay I’m not going to display anger.
0:16:57:33 Dr. Christian Heim: If I’m angry I will keep that all to myself. But then if things get too much for me I will explode. So that becomes a template for how a child learns to deal with anger. And so the template becomes a model not to show anger until it gets too much for me and then I explode and then I have to apologize. And a lot of people have that as a template. So when you become aware that that’s what was modeled to you – you start being able to have the choice is that actually how I want to express my anger? And so part of the way of overcoming negative childhood templates is that you look at a childhood template and you say, “Oh, that’s how I was taught. But now I can have some choice and perhaps I can learn something better.”
0:17:42:39 Pamela D Wilson: How do we gain that level of understanding to learn how these self-opinions or templates affect relationships with our parents and with other people?
0:17:52:37 Dr. Christian Heim: Now that’s the really tricky one. That’s really quite difficult and the way that we become aware of it is we start having problems in our relationships. Okay? So let’s say some of your Millenials have gone back to live with their parents at age 30 and all of a sudden they feel like they’re twelve years old. Why is it that I have to have dinner at 6:30 every night? I’m in a different lifestyle.
0:18:13:59 Dr. Christian Heim: I don’t have dinner until 8:30. Okay? And so you start to have these value clashes. And through these value clashes, they are all an opportunity for some insight. They’re opportunities for all of us to grow as people. To understand each other more as people. And actually to get on better through that understanding and the acceptance that comes with it. So, the first way is to find out that there are problems and that there are ways we can overcome it.
0:18:40:65 Pamela D Wilson: And you have another great post on your website about these value clashes and there’s this ABCDEF method. Can you talk about that?
0:18:50:05 Dr. Christian Heim: The principal behind it is to know that we all value different things in life. And it actually helps to know what those values actually are. So I would at least be aware of them. Okay? Because once you’re aware of your own values then you know where you stand as a person before you approach somebody else’s values. Because, let’s say, love relationships. Some people value expressing emotions quite freely whereas some people value peace and emotional reserve. And so this becomes a clash in how people express their emotions to each other.
0:19:33:56 Dr. Christian Heim: And so just having a conversation about, “okay so this is what I value in this particular area. What do you value in this particular area?” Having that conversation means that two people who are in a relationship can then start to forge new values together. So flexibility is a good idea. So you can be a bit flexible in your values. The other person can be a bit flexible in theirs but, the gold is when you start forging values together and that actually really helps to have more harmony in relationships. So when you’re looking at values clashing, okay? So first we have to be aware of the clash of the old values Okay?
0:20:15:41 Dr. Christian Heim: But here’s the thing about values. Values are just values. There’s no right or wrong values. Up to a certain point. so that means that we don’t have to actually blame anybody for the value. Okay? And then you can start to communicate about those values and discuss the situation. And what I’m doing now is actually going through this A to F and the E then becomes empathize with somebody else’s values to be able to say “me too.” I want to be able to get past this and the idea is that you can feel fine at the end and that’s the F of the values clashes.
0:20:53:71 Pamela D Wilson: Let’s say that I was a child and when I was young I was told not to question my parents. So that’s one of those [yes it is] one of those relationship templates. Okay? But now I am living with mom and dad and I am their caregiver and there’s some things that are really upsetting to me but I’m afraid to say anything. How do I get past that, you know I was taught not to speak up or taught to just be quiet and do what I’m told. How do I start talking to my parents when I wasn’t really taught to talk to my parents?
0:21:25:42 Dr. Christian Heim: Yes, yes, okay. That’s a very difficult situation, Pamela. But first of all, you will be aware of your parent’s values. Okay? And the assumption is that they haven’t changed. Although they probably have grown and they probably value your input. So firstly is not to assume that people are stuck in their own values. But always ask permission. You know, so I would say, “mom, I think that there’s something that’s worth talking about here. Okay? I’m just wondering if,” and then you go ahead and you ask the question which is a bit out of your template zone as a child.
0:22:01:06 Dr. Christian Heim: But if the feelings underneath are right, if your parents feel that you love them. Which you do, of course. And you’re treading carefully with their values and the things that you want to ask. Then what happens is that we tend to lean on that love. We tend to lean on the relationship that we had built up. Particularly in difficult times. If your parents are in a difficult situation and you are the caregiver, then there is a power imbalance there as well. But lovingly you can use that to your advantage to get even closer to your parents.
0:22:35:05 Pamela D Wilson: How would you recommend talking about, let’s say I’m a child and I’ve been very healthy all of my life and now my parents are sick and they have all of these health issues. And they’re not—and I as the child feel that they are not doing enough or paying enough attention to their health. How do I broach that difference in values?
0:22:52:15 Dr. Christian Heim: Yes, so it all has to do in the framing and how you start. You know, so if you sort of attack them by sort of saying well you should be doing this you should be doing that, okay? People will tend to put up walls against that. But if you start by affirming the relationship, “mom you know I love you.” “Yes of course dear, yes of course.” “Well you know I only want the best for you.” “Yes of course, yes of course.”
0:23:19:96 Dr. Christian Heim: “Okay, well, you know, I really think those three extra scotches you have every night is not just the best idea.” Okay? Or whatever it is that you have to bring up. That you can bring it up gently and on the background of a loving relationship. Because then people know that you are not there to control somebody but you are there to help somebody out of their own difficulty. In fact, you’re even there to help them do what they actually want to do but they just need a bit of encouragement.
0:23:50:82 Pamela D Wilson: So another template question. My parents when I was young taught me that I should take care of them regardless of what happens to my life. I have a lot of young caregivers who are feeling really stuck because they want to move forward with their education and their careers and start families. But they’re caring for their parents and they feel guilty about saying, “Mom or dad I want to get a job I want to have kids but caring for you is holding me back.” How do kids get past that guilt to feel comfortable to say something to their parents?
0:24:25:20 Dr. Christian Heim: Okay, that’s actually a very difficult situation Pamela and we do have a situation in which we call a sandwich generation. A generation that is taking care of its older generation parents and its younger generation children while still trying to forge a life of their own. Okay? And look, honesty becomes really important. To be able to honestly express how you feel about something up to a certain point. Because if you’re not able to be honest, then resentments start to build. And when resentments build then they tend to come out in ways that are not quite as healthy. Okay?
0:25:09:30 Dr. Christian Heim: So the idea would be to have an open discussion Okay.? And again the ideal is probably a bit of compromise both ways. Perhaps some careers can be put on hold for a short amount of time. Perhaps some other carers can be brought in? Perhaps there can be a solution that can be brought out so that basically everyone is doing the best they can in a difficult situation. But most importantly, I believe is to actually discuss the feelings underneath. So that people feel that they are actually communicating with the person themselves. To be able to get closer to them. Because that’s the aim in a relationship. You want to stay in the relationship. You want the relationship to continue and to go well and honesty actually helps all of that.
0:25:57:36: Pamela D Wilson: Your background is psychiatry. so what does guilt do to our mind when we’re that caregiver feeling guilty about “oh, I know I need to talk to mom or dad but I’m scared to death?”
0:26:07:75: Dr. Christian Heim Okay, so guilt is, it’s a very difficult emotion. And it can be used actually to manipulate other people. Okay, through guilt and unfortunately this becomes part of what a lot of parents do. In fact, it’s part of what we do to each other. You know it’s done on the job all the time to try to modify somebody else’s behavior. But the good thing about guilt is if you feel guilt then it’s only something that you’ve done not something that you are. Okay?
0:26:39:89: Dr. Christian Heim: So you as the center whatever you see yourself as a person. You’re a human being, not a human doing so in other words your self-worth is in who you are not what you do. So even though, throughout society, we may manipulate each other with guilt and we try not to do that, becoming aware of that becomes a way through to accepting people through where they actually are.
0:27:05:26 Pamela D Wilson: And let’s say I’m that caregiver who has gotten a little resentful. How do I know what a healthy caregiving-life balance looks like with parents?
0:27:15:64 Dr. Christian Heim: Okay, well Pamela firstly caregiving is difficult work. All right? It’s going to be challenging physically and it’s going to be challenging emotionally. And all those templates, they’re going to come up. You’re going to feel yourself brought back into the role that you were in when you were twelve years old. And so resentments tend to come up. All right? And so a healthy balance is when you can go okay. I need a bit of time out. I’m feeling really resentful about this. Okay?
0:27:44:40 Dr. Christian Heim: And even talking to the person about the resentments that you feel will actually bring you closer after some initial hostility, okay? Because nobody likes feelings of guilt or resentment or this build-up of tension. But it’s always the love underneath and if we can touch upon that then you’ll find that there will be a healthy way forward. Even if it’s like, “this is just difficult we’re just going to have to get through this time.“
0:28:11:62 Dr. Heim I thank you so much for joining me for this interview and for all of the valuable insights you offered.
0:28:18:02 Dr. Christian Heim: Okay, Pamela it’s been my pleasure being here.
0:28:21:04 Pamela D Wilson: Up next, more on how resentment towards parents happens and what we can do to resolve these feelings and improve relationships. If you are looking for help with decision-making about care for elderly parents or making a care plan for yourself, I can help. Visit my website PamelaDWilson.com to schedule an eldercare consultation. Click on How I Help, then Family Caregivers, and then Eldercare Consultation. Stay with me. I’ll be right back.
0:29:16:59 Pamela D Wilson: This is Pamela D Wilson, caregiving expert, caregiving speaker, and eldercare consultant with you on The Please share this week’s show, and all of our shows, with your family, friends, and colleagues. You can find the Caring Generation on all of your favorite podcast and music apps including Apple, Google, I Heart Radio, JioSaavn, Spreaker, Amazon Music, Breaker, Deezer, Listen Notes, Pandora, Player FM, Pocket Casts, Podcast Addict, Podchaser, Stitcher, Spotify, Tune In and Vurbl. Also, if you are looking for information and tips about caregiving check out my Caring for Aging Parents blog post: Meaningful Advice for Caregivers and Aging Adults.
0:29:59:79 Pamela D Wilson: Let’s return to more reasons why adult children caregivers feel resentment towards parents and sometimes siblings. In the first part of the program, we talked about a lack of support or appreciation. We touched a little on family role expectations that place caregivers in a position of avoiding caregiving discussions describing concerns with mom or dad. Next, Dr. Heim talked about how differences in values can cause relationship challenges between elderly parents and their children.
0:30:35:52 Pamela D Wilson: Personality differences are another area that can cause resentment towards parents. Personality is the way that we think, feel, and behave. Parts of personality can be inherited from parents; however, personality, beliefs, and behaviors are also affected by our environment. Where we live, work, the people we spend time with, our activities. Let’s think about personality from the perspective of brothers and sisters born in the same town or city who live there for the rest of their lives versus siblings who permanently leave their home town or city in their early twenties.
0:31:19:97 Pamela D Wilson: This early change of circumstances can have a significant effect not only on personality but on how family members view the outside world and solve problems. For example, let’s say that you were born in a city like Los Angeles significant air pollution amount. I lived in Venice Beach just west of LA for several years, so I can personally attest to the poor air quality.
0:31:50:10 Pamela D Wilson: If you were born in LA and never left, you might believe that the rest of the world’s geography and air quality are similar. But then you move out of Los Angeles to a small town in Utah, New Mexico, or maybe Colorado, and there is no air pollution. In fact, there no crowds. There are fewer people. All of a sudden, you become an outdoor enthusiast because there is no smog, the air is clean, the sky is blue and you can see the stars at night.
0:32:19:56 Pamela D Wilson: Your interests about health and well-being change. Rather than being hesitant to talk to strangers, you find that strangers in the new town where you live are friendly. You don’t have to be as guarded going out in public alone as you did when you lived in LA. Think about how this change in lifestyle, focus on health, and interactions with others might change personal beliefs and personality when this child becomes involved in caring for an aging parent and interacts with brothers or sisters who never left Los Angeles.
0:32:54:49 Pamela D Wilson: This child might be seen as an outsider or the one who left home because they didn’t care for mom and dad as much as the children who remained in town. This one child may be more open-minded and open to change because of different life experiences. There are many care situations where the children who remain living near parents look at siblings who move away as abandoning the family or being independent and living their own lives while the children who never moved away are toiling and sacrificing their lives to care for parents.
0:33:33:84 Pamela D Wilson: Resentment towards parents can turn into resentment towards siblings who live independently of the care needs of aging parents. Here’s another insight that can lead to resentment between siblings. The primary caregiver—whether a son or a daughter—who remains involved with mom or dad can more easily see a decline in health and other changes. Naturally, these caregivers become concerned and more attentive. Children who live far away and who may not have been home for years or who haven’t seen mom or dad in some time have no point of comparison between healthy mom and dad and sick mom and dad.
0:34:16:90 Pamela D Wilson: When the primary caregivers, son or daughter, call siblings to say, “we have a problem with mom and dad,” the other siblings who have no evidence or personal connection don’t recognize the problem because they haven’t seen any significant change in elderly parents. Why? It’s obvious. Because of a lack of consistent communication or ongoing involvement. In these situations, the primary caregivers can feel resentment towards siblings who don’t offer to help.
0:34:50:05 Pamela D Wilson: Rather than being angry at brothers and sisters—might the resentment stem from the absence or lack of communication or proof of the degree that parents have declined and need care. Parents out of sight can be parents out of mind. In this situation, managing resentment towards siblings can benefit from precise and direct communication, examples of proof about a parent’s decline, and very specific requests for help from the caregivers.
0:35:27:21 Pamela D Wilson: Resentment towards parents can also result from jealousy or envy of what others have. Envy might be aimed at siblings who have moved out of town and on with their lives, to friends we stay in touch with on social media. It’s true—caregivers who give up their lives to care for elderly parents miss a lot of life. Watching friends post vacation photos on social media can be deflating and depressing.
0:35:58:46 Pamela D Wilson: Let’s begin with some ideas for how to stop resenting parents. As we discussed in the first part of this program, initiating transparent, honest, conversations about concerns to help understand the situation can support balance in relationships. For the caregiver and really anyone experiencing resentment, identifying the basis for the resentment can help create a path forward.
0:36:29:54 Pamela D Wilson: Why do feelings of resentment exist? is it lack of appreciation or support, criticism, personality or value differences, family care expectations, or being envious of what others have? Do we have strong beliefs that we are unwilling to change? Are we judging others for things we do ourselves? Resentment is associated with so many feelings and actions. How many of you can’t sleep nights because you are replaying events in your mind about people who have hurt you or situations that didn’t turn out as you expected?
0:37:11:12 Pamela D Wilson: We all do this. However, if we perseverate—if we get stuck—in this pattern, we’re harming ourselves. Resentment towards parents, siblings, and others can result in self-damaging behaviors. Do you want to be a willing participant in making your life more difficult and miserable, or would you rather make it better? Up next suggestions on managing resentment and moving ahead in life.
0:37:42:43 Pamela D Wilson: This is Pamela D Wilson, caregiving speaker, expert, and advocate on The Caring Generation program for caregivers and aging adults. Whether you are twenty or 100 years old, you’re in exactly the right place to learn tips to help you and your loved ones plan for what’s ahead. If you’re not sure how to talk to your children about caregiving issues or if you’ve tried to talk to your aging parents. Let me start the conversation for you.
0:38:08:66 Pamela D Wilson: Introduce your parents, siblings, friends, and family to my YouTube Channel, featuring hundreds of caregiver videos. Share this podcast and my website with elderly parents, spouses, and siblings to make caregiving something we talk about. This is Pamela D Wilson. Stay with me. I’ll be right back.
0:38:54:92 Pamela D Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, speaker, and consultant on The Caring Generation. If you are an aging adult or a caregiver not sure what to do or how to plan for care, my website PamelaDWilson.com offers resources for caregivers. Check out my caregiving library, my Caring for Aging Parents blog, listen to all of The Caring Generation podcasts, read the show transcripts, watch videos, and check out caregiver courses online. There’s something for everyone at PamelaDWilson.com
0:39:25:54 Pamela D Wilson: Let’s consider more ideas for managing resentment towards parents. Ways to stop feeling resentment and be more at peace with ourselves and our lives. Before the break, we talked about identifying the reason or the basis for the hurt or resentment we are feeling. We also want to look at how feeling hurt and resentful shows up in our interactions with others. By looking at our thoughts, behaviors, and actions, we can identify a big part of the potential solution.
0:40:00:71 Pamela D Wilson: Have we become critical and judgmental? Are we holding on to emotions too tightly? Pretending that they don’t exist so that we can go on day after day while we continually relive the past and painful thoughts on those nights we can’t sleep? Do we have crying spells while driving in our cars or other places when we’re alone? Have we allowed caring for aging parents to create a box around us or a comfort zone that makes us feel hopeless?
0:40:34:10 Pamela D Wilson: When we gain insight into how we arrived at resentment toward parents, we can work to change the dynamics and our responses to others. Rather than keeping on doing things the same old way, we can begin to consider doing things differently. When we consider that the caregiver and the aging parent may have different realities due to beliefs, health status, lifestyle, careers, and different life experiences, we can learn to increase our level of compassion and understanding about the gaps that led to resentment towards parents.
0:41:12:84 Pamela D Wilson: In all situations taking responsibility and avoiding blame or guilt are mandatory. Blaming or feeling guilty keeps us stuck in patterns of resentment towards parents. We may also be disappointed in ourselves that we are in the same place today versus a year ago, even though we wanted so badly to change. But we didn’t make it happen. So here we are again, one month, one year later, in exactly the same position. Changing a longstanding care situation can be difficult for the caregiver and aging parents or a spouse.
0:41:54:33 Pamela D Wilson: Feeling resentment and keeping life in a holding pattern can become more comfortable than the alternative of unknown change that may create more stress. Exhausted caregivers may lack the energy, motivation, or awareness of the alternatives to initiate change. A lack of energy or motivation is another reason that resentment towards parents grows and caregivers feel stuck. You’re in good company. Everyone at some point in their life, regardless of the situation, can feel stuck and resentful.
0:42:33:39 Pamela D Wilson: While adult children may want to blame their parents for how life turns out, life will confirm that we all have flaws. Things that we’re not good at doing, and opportunities to learn. How many times might we have unintentionally hurt someone’s feelings, and the result was another person resenting us or feeling that we were purposely rude, impatient, or inconsiderate. We’re all humans with flaws.
0:43:05:99 Pamela D Wilson: Apologizing to others and forgiving ourselves for making a mistake takes us one step forward. Caregiving, aging, and declining health present a lot of what we don’t want from life. Flexibility and adaptability are important so that we can adjust our perspective and the way that we look at situations to focus on opportunities and solutions instead of problems. When you have a problem, what steps do you take?
0:43:34:09 Pamela D Wilson: Similar to identifying why we feel resentful, it’s a good idea to figure out why the problem exists and analyze the situation. In caregiving situations, it can be difficult to notice declines or admit to declines. For example, the care of an aging parent is taking more time because mom or dad needs more hands-on physical care to bathe and dress. More help is needed because mom and dad have become less physically active.
0:44:05:27 Pamela D Wilson: They sit most of the day watching television. As a result, physical strength, balance, and endurance have declined. This decline may be something that caregivers notice first because of an increased workload. However, it may be difficult for mom or dad to admit that sitting around all day is causing weakness. Additionally, it might be possible that your parent’s health is getting worse and they don’t feel well. Which is another reason for lower physical activity. Mom or dad may be tired all the time.
0:44:38:90 Pamela D Wilson: Situations can become more demanding when elderly parents rely on children for all of their care. Caregivers may feel guilty calling attention to the declines in health witnessed in aging parents. This is a point where communication and asking for the involvement of parents in decision-making is critical. If you’re not a good communicator we are going to talk about communication skills and how to become a better communicator in the last part of this show so stay with me.
0:45:13:36 Pamela D Wilson: When parents are unaware of the options available, they may dig in their heels out of fear of the unknown. Caregivers can do the same. Isolation can be a factor of resentment when we want to distance ourselves from people causing stress in our lives. Hanging onto feelings of resentment and anger can lead to feeling more anxious, stressed, or depressed. These feelings combined may lead to avoiding the issue. If thinking about it makes us feel bad—talking about it, especially if aging parents disagree—may feel even worse.
0:45:51:74 Pamela D Wilson: Caregivers become stuck in this spiral of fear and hesitancy. Let’s begin with the idea of forgiveness. Forgiveness isn’t only about saying the words, “I forgive.” It’s about making the mental decision to let go of negative feelings and stop dwelling on the past. By releasing feelings of resentment, anger, frustration, the goal is to find empathy and compassion for the challenges of the situation. Life is difficult for everybody. Ending resentment towards parents is a choice that can be made.
0:46:30:46 Pamela D Wilson: In the process, caregivers can also forgive themselves for allowing a care situation to move to the point of resentment towards parents. Moving past resentment towards parents means letting go of expectations. Expectations go both ways. Ask if your parent is willing to change the behaviors that cause irritation for you. Make your needs for appreciation or recognition clear.
0:47:00:16 Pamela D Wilson: Maybe your request is to limit phone calls while you are at work or ask your parent to be more independent about specific activities. Perhaps your recommendation is to have every other weekend off of caregiving responsibilities. Recognize too, though, that your elderly parent may have requests for you. Do your best to prioritize what is important to both of you and see if there is a way to come to a middle ground.
0:47:30:28 Pamela D Wilson: Offer forgiveness for the relationship getting so far off track. The act of forgiving can be like re-setting or re-starting a relationship when you are willing to do the work and have a forthright discussion that may initially be very uncomfortable. How many of you are familiar with the singer Don Henley? Here’s a quote from him. “It’s an inside job to learn about forgiving. It’s an inside job to hang on to the joy of living.”
0:48:02:88 Pamela D Wilson: And another quote from Albert Einstein. “Weak people revenge. Strong people forgive.” Caregivers are some of the strongest and most forgiving people I know. Forgiveness allows the release of resentment or anger. The process can help gain insights into identifying the factors that played a part in creating the present situation. Fears about discussing caregiving stress because of a sense of duty or obligation or cultural or family pressures exist.
0:48:39:27 Pamela D Wilson: Regrets by elderly parents who lacked the insight to take better care of health or save more money for retirement exist. There is a point in every life where options become limited because of physical health, time, money, or family support. It’s up to each of us to make a plan for how we want to live in retirement and do our best to make that plan a reality. We’re off to a short break. When we return we’ll talk about improving communication skills.
0:49:10:54 Pamela D Wilson: Speaking of communication. Caregivers seek information in ways that are meaningful to you. If you’re here listening, podcasts may be your go-to source for information. For others it may be videos, reading articles or blog posts, giving opinions through participating in caregiver surveys, reading a book, watching a webinar, taking an online course, or joining an online support. No caregiving situation is the same.
0:49:38:66 Pamela D Wilson: No matter your preferred source of information and communication – all of these options are available on my website at pameladwilson.com Share this podcast and information with others you know who are seeking hope, help, and support. There’s something for all caregivers and aging adults on my website. I’m Pamela D Wilson on The Caring Generation stay with me I’ll be right back
0:50:29:12 Pamela D Wilson: This is Pamela D Wilson, caregiving expert, speaker, and eldercare consultant. Let’s talk about improving communication skills which is at the top of the list for improving relationships with aging parents and everyone in our lives. When we learn to communicate better we can avoid feelings of resentment, sticking our foot in our mouth, and reduce the incidences of conflict, depression, and isolation.
0:50:55:40 Pamela D Wilson: So—where do we start? Number one is listening to others. Really listening. Not thinking of what you’re going to say next or mentally tuning out thinking about all the things you have to do today. Listening may mean having to put your cellphone on silent or even put it away to have an important conversation. Second, realize that the person you are talking to is important. Make them feel important by giving them your undivided attention.
0:51:29:50 Pamela D Wilson: If it’s not a good time to talk—say so. Reschedule the conversation rather than being half-present and having the other person think that you don’t care. Take an interest in learning about communication and body language. Are you having a conversation where both sets of eyes are looking at each other or are mom or dad looking away? Does either person have their arms crossed?
0:52:34:35 Pamela D Wilson: Is either person fidgeting or having feet or legs in motion, bouncing around, or shifting in their chair? Looking at their watch or the clock on the wall? All of these signs mean that the person is not interested in the conversation or has other priorities. In all situations, it’s best to think before you speak or respond. If the conversation is important to you you may want to prepare some notes or an outline to make sure you don’t forget to talk about important information.
0:52:34:35 Pamela D Wilson: If the conversation may turn highly emotional because of differing opinions, values, or desires, role-play the conversation in advance. Think about how you will manage your emotions so that you are not the person who loses his or her temper and then the conversation goes downhill from there. On this topic becoming more empathetic can help in having the ability to relate to another person’s feelings or needs.
0:53:06:14 Pamela D Wilson: Becoming empathetic builds trust and improves the ability to communicate. But how do you know if you have weak or strong communication skills? Are you a good listener? Do you ask a lot of questions? Can you adjust your words to the mood or body language of another person? If you don’t understand something do you ask for clarification?
0:53:32:40 Pamela D Wilson: How specific are you in communicating what you want, your needs, and explaining the why—which can be the facts to support the why or the consequences of taking or not taking an action. Becoming a good communicator is a skill that anyone can learn if you’re willing to work at it. Here’s another way to measure your communication skills. How are your relationships at work? Do you work as a team with co-workers and have positive relationships or do you feel that everyone is out to get you and life is unfair?
0:54:07:84 Pamela D Wilson: Do you have problems getting others to support your ideas? Are you vague in conversations? Rarely getting to the point because you’re afraid to ask for what you want? Any of these concerns can pose opportunities for improving communication skills. Caregiving is one of the most difficult roles in life. There is so much opportunity for learning if we maintain a positive attitude and refuse to allow resentment of any kind including resentment towards parents to take us off track.
0:54:46:53 Pamela D Wilson: Pamela D Wilson: Thank you for joining me on The Caring Generation – the only program of its kind connecting caregivers and aging adults worldwide to talk about caregiving, well-being, health, and everything in between. Invite your family and friends to listen each week. If you’d like to learn more about the experiences and interests of other caregivers, follow me on social media. My posts respond to caregivers who complete the caregiver survey on my website and communicate with me on social media.
0:55:15:91 Pamela D Wilson: On Facebook, follow me at @pameladwilsoncaregivingexpert where you can join my online caregiver support group, The Caregiving Trap. Follow me on Twitter @caregivingspeak, Instagram at @wilsonpamelad, and Linked In pameladwilsoncaregiverexpert. This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, advocate, and speaker. I look forward to being with you again soon. God bless you all. Sleep well tonight. Have a fabulous day tomorrow and a great week until we are here together again.
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