How often do you have to communicate with older people, and much older than you? For the last three months, I’ve been in contact every day.
It so happened that after 20 years of independent living, I found myself at my husband’s parents’ house, with my mother of venerable age, under quarantine.
So, adults – each with their own baggage, way of life, worldview – met in the same living space, in completely new circumstances of the time. And in these conditions it is necessary to coexist, to communicate, to build a new life.
The first thing I had to deal with was the difference in age and mentality of the two women. One is almost 40, the other has crossed the 80-year mark. One is Russian, the other is native Ossetian, trembling in her loyalty to traditions and respect for her people.
The second is the “we’re very different, I did everything differently, and in general, life was better, the time was better” kind of talk, which is an eternal stumbling block. It’s like speaking two different languages and not understanding each other at all. It seems to be a dialogue, but everyone hears only himself.
The third – perhaps the main – is the unwillingness to let another person into your life, into your understandable and cozy inner world.
In three months we have all lived, perhaps, several lives together. Rising and falling, searching for compromise, or defending our territory, trying to establish a good relationship with each other, we began to find common ground.
And here are the conclusions I came to.
We are all different.
That’s a fact. And it doesn’t matter at all. We don’t choose the time we are born, the family we come into the world with, our nationality, gender, and so on. Each of us goes through a great deal of life and is influenced by the people and events around us. And all this should not prevent us from being people who understand and love. It is useless to look for the differences between us, it is better to look for what brings us together.
Learning to give in
It’s never easy, and someone has to take the first step. Of course, the first reaction that follows is definitely not me! After all, there’s nothing wrong with me, it’s the other person who’s wrong. In fact, to concede is not to lose. It’s much easier for the younger generation to do it. It’s not because it’s customary. And because it is much more difficult for an elderly person to adapt to the modern world, especially in the new times, when changes are happening every day at the speed of light. As you know, the older a person is, the harder it is for him to accept change, and moreover, such radical changes as living in a pandemic. If you try to look at this or that situation through the eyes of the other person, it becomes more clear what they may be feeling and experiencing. Then it’s easier to concede.
Start with yourself
The hardest part is starting the change with yourself and trying to see more good than bad. Relationships between people are a road of small but constant steps. Every day we are given the opportunity to take another step toward another person. And after that, wait for time to reciprocate. Patience is often lacking here because we live in a world of quick, short-term results. I want to do something and make no more effort. It doesn’t work that way, especially in relationships with the older generation. So it’s worth having patience and continuing to take small, confident steps toward a good connection.
Expand your boundaries
Here’s the best part. It is possible to do a million good things, yet remain closed, hostile inside, devotedly guarding one’s personal territory. Letting another person into your heart is difficult. Especially if you have a “warrior in armor” in front of you.
The flip side is that a lot depends on my interpretation of what’s going on. Both the warrior and the armor I can safely draw in my head. A smile, a joke in response to a brewing conflict, and most importantly, a desire to throw off the armor and see a family member in front of you – that’s what works with 100% positive results. Tested!
Last – most important – why do all of the above things and build human relationships? Everything that happens to us has some higher purpose. I am convinced of that. Behind all of our disagreements, reactions, and communication difficulties is a lack of understanding and love. I can’t change the other person, but I can change the way I feel about him. No one is saying it can be done overnight. Slowly, step by step, changing my attitude, I change myself and begin to see good changes around me, in the people close to me.