Updated: October 1, 2012 6:05AM
Dear Annie: We are three daughters who need help. Our parents’ home seems unhappy and full of bitterness. Mom and Dad have been married for 59 years, but Mom doesn’t seem to enjoy life. Dad is not perfect, but we really don’t know their past personal stories and relationship. They seem to have led separate lives: Mom at home with six kids to raise, and Dad working long hours at his business.
Since Dad’s retirement, they have settled into a routine of doctor appointments and staying home.
Dad no longer wants to do anything, because Mom is constantly telling him that he doesn’t do things correctly. He embarrasses her. Dad has no interest in going places due to his health issues, and Mom doesn’t want him driving much or staying home alone.
The constant nagging has created an unhealthy environment. It is difficult to visit because we don’t like to see and hear them like this. We don’t want to become the kind of kids who stop seeing their parents. Any suggestions?
Dear Girls: When couples retire, they can fall into the trap of doing nothing and getting on each other’s nerves. Mom resents Dad invading her domestic domain, and Dad is depressed because his identity was tied up in his job. And if they have health issues, it can exacerbate the problem because getting out of the house can be problematic or exhausting. It’s a shame your parents won’t address their problems, particularly if they are depressed.
We recommend you find ways to get them out of the house, together or separately. Take them out for dinner. Invite Mom to a play. Encourage Dad to attend a ballgame with you. Look into senior programs in their area, and perhaps offer to go with them until they become interested enough to go on their own and, hopefully, make friends. Please don’t give up on them. They need you.
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