Never Lecture, Instead Reassure

Dear Jo:

It is so difficult to get anything done or to go anywhere!  I get Mom all dressed and ready to go, and while I am outside getting the car ready, she takes off her shoes – sometimes even her clothes!  I need to get her to the senior center every morning so I can get to work on time.  I get so frustrated that sometimes I yell at her!  That just leaves me feeling so guilty.


Jo Says:

I had this same problem with my Mother.  She just wasn’t aware of the importance of time, or my schedule. Absolute #4 says: Never Lecture, Instead Reassure.  It is an excellent reminder for this issue. 


When I had small children I would never have left them indoors to wait while I went to get the car! Of course it would have been easier, but it would have been extremely dangerous for my children.  The same principle works here.  What I had to accept was that I needed to keep Mom safe at all times, and that meant better planning on my part.  However, even with better planning, when I took her to the car with me, there were some days we just couldn’t get things in the right order and I would lose my patience.  When I became impatient, there were times I raised my voice.  Or instead, I would try not to show how irritated I was, but she always sensed something was wrong. 


When you are feeling annoyed and you want to lecture, the best thing to do is to apologize – even if you have done nothing wrong!  If you can honestly say something like, “I don’t know what is wrong with me. I must have gotten up on the wrong side of the bed!  Do you ever have days like that, Mom?” she is very likely to respond positively, and might even offer to assist.  This way, you can move forward in a positive and enjoyable manner.  The very act of admitting you’ve goofed changes your status, helps you to smile and laugh, and reassures your loved one that you are in this together.