Ageing Parents, Flustered Child: Help Me Talk To My Parents! [#ReachOutThursday]

Posted: April 21, 2016

How to talk to my parents so they understand me? This is often a dilemma in India as we struggle to communicate while staying supportive and respectful.

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My father seems depressed but refuses help

I am writing to you to seek some advice for my father, who has become very unlike his usual sociable personality. Of late, he keeps to himself and has become very quiet. He doesn’t like to talk to other family members, nor does he go to meet his friends in the colony or elsewhere. He is 72 years old and in fairly good health. (While he has diabetes, it is under control; other than that, he has minor aches and pains but nothing significant for a man of his age).

When we ask him if there is a problem, he says that he is perfectly fine, but he seems to be brooding over something, which we can’t understand. My mother and he have never been close and don’t really discuss personal stuff with each other. I live fairly close to my parents, but with my own work, family, and 2 kids, it is difficult for me to spend too much time at their place.

Do you think he may be depressed? What could we do about it?

Hi dear,

Thanks for sharing your issue with us and a big handshake from the distance for showing concern about your elderly father although as you mention yourself that you are quite busy with your own commitments of work, family and 2 kids.

Yes, it seems that your father is slowly going into depression and the best possible way out is to involve him in doing social things gradually. He will certainly resist and may even yell at you or other people trying to reach out to him to mind their own damn business. But be silently stoic; be physically there as much as you can. Just accept it as a fact that he needs more of your physical presence more than ever even though he may be shooing all your attempts to talk and be more active in the interaction as and when it does happen with you.

And yes, one thing which can be done at this stage is that he can be provided with a male companion/nurse – during the day, who will take care of his day to day needs, physically and emotionally. Your father may try to dissuade you that he requires no such thing and ask you if you have really lost it by imagining that your father is an imbecile or unable to look after himself.

Please listen politely to all such accusations and then quietly compliment him on his ability and competencies at a grand young age of 72, but that you do believe that your mother may require some support as she is growing older and you do care for her.

Ask his old friends (without his knowledge) to call him up either telephonically or to visit him more often. You can even play host by proxy. Here this male companion/nurse will come in handy and it won’t be an extra burden on your mother too.

Take him out on some pretext or the other. His morning and evening walks need to be scheduled. Make sure that he is having balanced diet. Generally, people who are sinking into depression do avoid taking hearty meals they were earlier enjoying.

At this stage, many elderly people tend to get fussy, negative, irritable and vent out their frustrations on their spouses who in return give acidic answers in provocation and the vicious cycle of “emotional distance” continues. Do watch out for this particular pattern at home and in case it is happening this way then please counsel your mother accordingly.

Convey to her that she needs to remain positive no matter what, not because your father is right in his accusations and insinuations, but that she needs to put her tongue within her lips because he is not in the right frame of mind. Pamper her too in your own ways as her kid. It will refresh the gloomy atmosphere in the home which does set in most of the times when elderly people feel alienated, rejected and unwanted – in their perception.

Be in touch with a counsellor too for they may be able to tell you a few things on a routinely basis in dealing with your father, coping with the situation and simple techniques to make your parent’s life more invigorating and active.

All the best, dear!

-Dr. Amita Puri, Psychologist, Healtheminds

How to convince my parents about my desire to study?

Hi! I am a 20 year old girl and have recently completed by B.Com. I am very keen to go in for an MBA and go for a career in Finance. I have been preparing for the entrance exams to take them this December. However, my parents are very discouraging about this. They keep telling me that an MBA is too expensive for our family to afford, and moreover, their savings will only be enough for my wedding. (I am an only child, still, my father had some financial troubles in his business, so he is worried about it). I feel I can still manage with an educational loan or something, but my parents are not so keen on this also.

I feel they think of me like a burden and want to get me married fast for their own reasons. This is depressing me terribly and at times, I feel like running away from home, though I know this is not practical. Please advise me what to do.

Hi dear.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.

Its good that you wish to study further and make a good career. But do not think that you are a burden on your parents. Many kids sometimes feel that way when they feel that generation gap is widening between them and their parents and that their parents are not able to comprehend or understand their true feelings.

Its just that parents sometimes in their old fashioned and good intentioned thinking feel that the girls need to be married off at a suitable age or the earlier the better. Probably your parents are also feeling the same. And yes, in the Indian society, this is a dark reality. So, also, your parents are thinking in this direction – aiming to secure your “good” future.

And from their perspective as parents they are indeed right dear – at least grant them their good intentions. Its every parents desire to see their daughters settled in their lives in terms of a good marriage and your parents are also no different. After all, we live in the same society and our thoughts, feelings and actions get conditioned accordingly.

But since you want to go in for higher studies and are still very young, it is ideal that you pursue your career with a focused approach. Let your parents do match finding on their own to their heart’s content. It anyways will take some time and of course you will also be meeting the prospective groom and take your own good time in taking things further. And anyways, marriages do not happen so early even when we start looking for the right match.

Meanwhile, you focus on your studies and find ways for an educational loan to happen. Appear for the competitive exams and work on getting a good score and college. Rest, things will take their own due course. Keep on moving forward towards your goal and remain positive at all times. This will help you develop your own peace of mind and foster a positive mental health.

All the very best to you dear!

-Dr. Amita Puri, Psychologist, Healtheminds

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Comments

1 Comment


  1. Well, I don’t think it is right to advice a 20 year old, who clearly wants to study more and is not interested in marriage, to say yes to her parents’ “match-finding”.

    She should get married when she thinks is ready. It is called as taking a stand. Tell her that, not some.. “Ok, ok study more but also be prepared to be married”

    And the logic that it will take time to find a match. Seriously! What if they find a match in 6 months and she has to discontinue her studies. Please please don’t push your previous generation agenda on a 20 year old girl, in the name of giving advice

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