Learn to Be a Difficult Older Parent in Ten Easy Steps by Paul K. Chafetz, PhD

It’s the season of giving!   I’d like to gift you a lasting value idea.   Here is a gift that truly keeps giving….

Have you known any difficult older parents and secretly admired them? Have you always hoped to be a difficult older parent yourself, but somehow not yet succeeded?  If so, do not despair! This goal is still within reach. Here are ten easy strategies to help YOU become a difficult older parent:

1. START EARLY. You will leave much deeper impressions on your children if you start when they are very young. Capitalize on the natural readiness of healthy children to love, trust, and admire their parents, and their almost total lack of natural defenses against difficult parents.

2. START WITH THE BASICS. Practice being angry, arrogant, callous, critical, entitled, intrusive, irrational, sarcastic, and selfish. After mastering these, you can move on to more advanced skills.

3. DIVERSIFY YOUR APPROACH. Be creative. For example:
a. Never stand on ceremony, even if your kids call you intrusive
b. Be open and honest about who your favorites are and aren’t
c. Speak your truth, even if it hurts their feelings in the present
d.  Share your wisdom about life often, even if unappreciated in the moment
e. Make your own decisions about whom to trust with your important decisions, even if your kids call you gullible or irresponsible

4. RISE ABOVE MERE FACTS. Don’t let the truth stand in the way of a compelling story. Make liberal use of lies, innuendo, and hypocrisy.

5. ESTABLISH USEFUL BOUNDARIES. Insist that your adult children tell you everything you ask them, but also protect the family’s privacy (secrecy) against outsiders.

6. INVOLVE YOUR COMMUNITY. Share your disapproval of your adult children with friends. After all, it is not gossip if it is true, is it?

7. CLAIM YOUR RIGHTS. Tell your children that they owe you respect and tolerance because you raised them.

8. CELEBRATE YOUR ACHIEVEMENTS. Make sure everyone knows about your righteous efforts to fix your offspring. With a little luck, you’ll damage your kids enough to make them difficult to their kids, too.

9. BE PERSISTENT AND STEADFAST. Becoming a difficult parent takes practice. Resolve to work at it every day. Ignore distractions. Do not be moved by your children’s pitiful complaints or disrespectful accusations of you. Your feelings are more important than theirs. After all, they are now adults and no one promised them a rose garden. If they really want to achieve more peace in their relationship with you, let them find Dr. Chafetz’s book, Loving Hard-to-Love Parents: A Handbook for Adult Children of Difficult Older Parents, on their own.

​10. INVEST IN THE FUTURE. Remember to alienate your grandchildren, too.

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