Dear Dr. Yael,
I am a woman in my early 70s who lives alone. Baruch Hashem, I am healthy and independent. Yet, I am lonely. My children, all boys who are happily married with children of their own, don’t call me every day. I call them and try to be helpful by giving them advice; however, they feel that I am very critical. They do take me to doctor appointments and help me with errands when needed, and I go to a different child every Shabbos, but during the week I am alone.
Lately, they have been nagging me to get a First Alert pendant with a GPS, so if I fall I can easily get help. I am in good health and do not think I need this pendant, but they disagree. In fact, they even ordered one for me, but I don’t want to wear it. I told my children that if they would call me and visit me more often, I wouldn’t need a pendant, but they said they are busy during the week and want me to be safe. I want to be closer to my children, but I do not know how to make this happen. Please respond. I love your column.
Lonely Mother and Grandmother
Dear Mother and Grandmother,
First, in regards to the pendant, it is so important for you to wear it. I know of countless people who either fell or had a sudden stroke and were able to get immediate care because of the pendant. In situations of a stroke, where medication needs to be administered within a certain amount of time, having the pendant can change the course of a person’s life. So please take this First Alert pendant seriously.
As far as your loneliness, let’s think of ways that you can become closer to your children. Do you compliment your children? Do you help them physically and/or monetarily? You mentioned that you sometimes help them with advice, but advice is generally unwanted by married children. Additionally, if your children think that you are critical of them, they will likely want to stay away from you.
You may feel that your criticism is helpful, but constructive criticism is an oxymoron. Criticism is basically destructive and is probably alienating your children and grandchildren. In general, people criticize others to feel better about themselves.
What I would suggest is that you start calling them more often, complimenting them, and trying to point out their positive characteristics. Remember, you attract more bees with honey. I can assure you that your sons, daughters-in-law, and grandchildren will want to call you more if they feel positive energy from you.
People love those who are warm and complimentary and notice the good in others. We are all children inside who need that warm loving touch. I want you to work on being that warm positive parent/grandparent that your children and grandchildren want to be around.
I know that it is very hard to change the manner in which you act at your age, yet the difference it will make in your life is truly worth the effort.
Ask yourself: Are you depressed? Would you benefit from therapy and maybe medication to make you more positive? Do you exercise enough? Exercise classes, such as swimming, can help you get out of the house and will fill your days with endorphins and more positive energy. You need to find energy to have happiness within you, so you can be more positive with your family.
Please try to see if these ideas are helpful and always wear your First Alert button, so if you ever need help, it will be there before a lot of damage has occurred. And remember, “A positive attitude is contagious, but don’t wait to catch it from others. Be a carrier.”
Hatzlocha with your relationship with your children and with working on becoming a more positive person.