20/20 Hindsight: Lessons on conflict resolution from the home for the aging Lesson #7 It's okay to declare your independence at any age
LESSONS ON CONFLICT RESOLUTION
FROM THE HOME FOR THE AGING
IT'S OKAY TO DECLARE YOUR INDEPENDENCE AT ANY AGE
Many older people have lived a lifetime of "interdependence": whether on a spouse, their children or their work life. Their ego and sense of well-being is tangled up in a complicated web of expectation that they are doing fine only when all of those who depend upon them, and those upon whom they depend are also fine. And then something changes, and they are tasked with summoning the courage and self-esteem to become "independent" and thrive on their own. Either they suffer a loss or someone proves to be less "dependable" than they once were.
In mediation, we see this play out in disputes arising out of probate issues, amongst adult siblings where there are expectations of favor or resentments amongst siblings. We see it in business matters where adults and elderly parents have become "partners" in financial risks that one or the other can no longer afford. The recipe spells disaster.
On this 4th of July, the lesson I read from the Home for the Aging, is that there is great value in maintaining independence for the aging and they become stronger when they can rely upon themselves for their own well being, rather than become entirely dependent upon family members. Yes, it changes the dynamic and may seem impossible, but eventually all of us will get there and need to look within to summon and protect our own best interests for as long as possible.
Happy Independence Day!