Meeting My Contact Needs
Seniors are often faced with loneliness and feeling disconnected from their adult children. I often here seniors say they do not want to be a burden to their children while at the same time long for having more contact with their family. Emotional disappointment, guilt, and sometimes resentment often exist between the parties. What is an acceptable amount of contact? What kind of contact (telephone, visiting in person, electronic communication, letter writing) makes loneliness go away, and for how long?
An older adult’s perspective of needed contact may be very different from their adult children’s perception of contact provided. Contact varies among children in respect to their parents. Mother-daughter relationships are different than mother-son relationships, and father-daughter relationships are different than father-son relationships.
Negotiating contact can occur between adult children and their parent(s). Here are some suggestions:
1. Agree upon a mutually convenient time for having contact.
2. Make clear the type and frequency of contact needed, and negotiate a reasonable amount of time required.
3. Let each other know whether the contact is enough or not enough to meet the needs of each person.
4. Modify the type and frequency of contact according to changing circumstances in each other’s life. Visitation or telephone contact may need to be increased or decreased depending upon circumstances.
5. Children can negotiate a shared responsibility among themselves for contact with their parent(s). A son may be responsible for visiting while the daughter for telephoning.
Gary Kozick, LCSW