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Follow Your Dreams; The Responses Of Children

I recently wrote an article about older adults who are single, whether widowed or divorced, who have grown children with their own young families. What happens when these singles meet, marry and decide to live a life that is independent of their families and friends? The “older” newlyweds I wrote about were going through problems with their friends and families as they chose to follow their dreams and make aliya. Leaving their families, children and grandchildren behind; to be visited when they could, instead of almost daily, brought resentment and upset from everyone they knew and were related to. I opened this discussion to you, for your input. Below are some of the responses I’ve received.

 

“I am disappointed, not by their (the parents) choice; (after all) they are free people. To Yidden the golden years are when you can shep nachas (derive pleasure) from all your years of putting (the children) first. To me, it seems that this is the greatest pleasure one can have. And, it is what a parent has worked for his/her whole life to accomplish. I think that the mutual need for companionship has hidden their un-mutual desire of shepping nachas. This is something they don’t share in common (since) they each have different families. I don’t agree that the kids can be upset that (their parents) aren’t there to share in milestones. I am sad for the grandparents who are losing the joy of a lifetime – literally!!


B.P. Age 30

 

“I think I would be very upset if either of my parents did this. But I’m not sure I would say anything. But the truth is, it would probably come out in the way I related to them because it would be hard not to.”

D. Z. Age 25

 

“I actually had a very similar experience with my parents. My father had remarried after my mother passed on, and when we were all settled with our own families, my father and his wife decided to sell everything and go to live in Israel. I was a very young woman at the time, so you can imagine how it was then. You didn’t just hop on a plane every Yom Tov to go visit. We knew we wouldn’t see them very much once they moved to Israel, and I was so very sad about them leaving us. I knew I’d miss them terribly. But in those days you never expressed your feelings to your parents or argued with their decisions. Shortly after they moved to Israel, my father took ill and died within months. All I could think of was my regret at not having encouraged them to go sooner so that he could have fulfilled his dreams for more then just a few months. I still, now, wish they had made their decision to move to Israel earlier. I had been so sad about the move and now, if I could have had them for a little longer, healthy and happy in Israel, I would have been so happy. Looking back, I wonder why was I so sad they were moving to Israel. I could still have had them, alive and well in Israel. As long as you still have your parents alive, well and happy anywhere on this earth, it is a gift to cherish.

L.S. Age 58

 

“My parents had a very brilliant way at handling the decisions they made, whether it was about moving, which of the children to visit for Yom Tov or anything in their lives. They simply said to us, ‘We are your parents. Trust that we have thought it out and know what we’re doing.’ By their telling us this, we knew not to question their choices or try to convince them otherwise. They simply made it clear to us with that statement that they were adults and we needed to respect their choices, period.”

K.E. Age 45

 

“Funny you should ask me, because that is exactly the bombshell my parents laid on us this month. Theirs is not a remarriage, but they are making aliya. They are leaving all of us here in the U.S. and pursuing their life’s dream and moving to Israel. OK, our parents did live across the country, but still, they were able to be here for all the important milestones of our children, and we did visit them once a year. Now, they’re talking about coming to the U.S. once a year, but that’s to see all of us kids and our families. I know it just won’t be then same. But you know, all they will ever hear out of my mouth is encouragement. No matter how lost I know I will feel, my parents always encourage me to follow my dreams and I intend to reciprocate. I am encouraging them to go. No! I’m insisting they fulfill their dreams. And, you know, as sad as I am for me, I’m thrilled for them and proud of them too.”

T. K. Age 40

 

I have tried to give a sampling of the responses that reflects most of the diverse feelings people have on this topic. Wherever possible I have included the ages of the people who shared their feelings with me. I leave it for you to ponder if there is a similarity of feelings at different ages and stages of life. Do different life experiences color what you expect of those closest to you? Lastly, is how we see the situation and how we feel, the only correct way, or can we understand and accept when our parents take a different road then the one we expect of them?

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When one is blind one learns to use Braille to read. When one cannot walk, a wheelchair gives mobility. Sign language allows a mute person to speak and ocular implants assist in hearing when one is deaf. These are all compensatory strategies that help a person function despite his disability. But compensatory strategies are not just for physical problems. Understanding our psychological weaknesses and setting up our lives to ensure that we are not tempted to repeat our past mistakes, is as necessary as any aid to the disabled.

Well spouses have often discovered that their friends and relatives, despite their closeness to the situation, often don’t realize the tremendous emotional impact living with chronic illness has on the family. With the best intentions, suggestions, ideas and criticism are offered, based on the non-experience of those with healthy families. Even when the good intentioned get a taste of the difficulties, it is sometimes not enough for them to then identify and understand what the family of the chronically ill must face on a constant basis.

Over the past two weeks I have shared letters from a therapist and a well spouse. Both of the letters gave personal insights into the process of losing hope, how we react when that happens and some ways of coping when test scores, diagnosis and just simple repetitive behavior indicate that change for the better is impossible.

Dear Ann,

I’ve read your last few articles on psycho-neurological testing (Oct.8-22) with interest. As a therapist who has counseled couples dealing with chronic illness, I’d like to give you another perspective.

Dear Ann,

Your articles on the Neuro-Psychological Testing were right on (October 8-22). My husband underwent testing twice and your articles explained it things exactly the way they were. Besides the test, we also tried therapy.

Very often when we can’t face our big hurts or big loses we focus on the little ones. We can discuss those. We can cry over the small loses, be angry at the smaller hurts even though it may look trite and sound ridiculous to others.

Over the last two weeks we have been discussing one way in which well spouses can determine whether behavior displayed by their ill partners is caused by their illness or is a way they have chosen to act. We have focused on Psycho-Neurological testing, what it can tell us, as well as its pros and cons.

Last week I discussed a question that haunts many well spouses: not knowing if the difficult and often inappropriate behavior frequently displayed by their partners are caused by the disease and therefore not-controllable, or if the behavior is a choice the spouse makes and can therefore be changed. This doubt can be the source of much frustration and many marital disagreements. One way of alleviating this doubt is by having a psycho- neurological work up done. But that path is not so simple.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/follow-your-dreams-the-responses-of-children/2006/07/12/

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