Remember when you were a teenager and your parents refused to listen to you? Now the roles are reversed, and here you are dealing with teenage-like behavior from your parents.
It’s difficult when we see our parents age and become different people because of a condition like Alzheimer’s or dementia. Of course, older adults don’t need to be suffering from a cognitive condition to show this stubborn behavior. They may be frustrated with a lack of independence or physical mobility and choose to stand their ground where they can.
Tips for Dealing with a Parent Who Won’t Listen
The best way to approach these situations is similar to what your parents might have done when you were a teen: assess the problem, define what’s important and pick your battles.
Below are a few suggestions to help you out as you navigate this unfamiliar path with your loved one.
Understand the Underlying Factors
What is motivating your loved one to act this way? Maybe Mom is depressed or angry and wants to be disagreeable. Perhaps Dad is confused and doesn’t realize that he’s being defiant. Understanding the motivation can help you come up with a resolution.
Decide How Important the Issue Is
You have no choice but to let some things go. If it’s a safety issue, it needs to be addressed. If it’s nitpicking or something irritating, let it go. Important issue: Dad refuses to lock his doors at night. Not-so-important issue: Dad wants to wear his red sweater every day.
Blame it on Someone Else
If your parent refuses to change their behavior for you, maybe they’ll do it for someone else, like a grandchild or sibling. If you feel embarrassed that Dad continues to wear the same sweater, kindly suggest that the grandkids want to see him in something different. Better yet, have them buy a few shirts for his birthday that he can wear.
Treat Mom and Dad Like Adults
Adult children have a way of treating their parents like kids sometimes. It’s not done on purpose, but parents sense this type of stuff and may rebel as a result. Make sure that you are still treating your parent with respect. A stubborn adult is not the same as a stubborn child.
Pick your battles wisely. There are some things that will have to roll off your chest. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed or frustrated, talk to a counselor or support group. It’s important that you don’t beat yourself up for things that are out of your control.