With the holiday season upon us, so many people will be doing more family time so it’s really the perfect occasion to think about raising the kind of parents that are a benefit to the planet. My parents are both deceased but I see friends venting about their parents’ behavior all the time: they are recalcitrant, they are moody, they are impossible to get along with, they are an embarrassing reflection on their children. How did this happen? The bad news is there are no quick fixes but the good news is with a little time investment, you can help to put demonstrably better parents, parents you are proud of, out into the world.
Here are my five tips for raising thoughtful and well-rounded parents.
• Limit and curate their screen-time and media.
Concerned about how your parents are behaving? It is important to look at how your parents are spending their free time. Is it listening to disinformation on Fox News and paranoid propaganda on talk radio? Xenophobic tyrades on the hour? It’s no wonder your parents are having a violent and frightened reaction to life: just look at how they are filtering the news. The media can shape our worldview and with a competitive 24-hour news cycle, an endless stream of delusional ranting is all too available, and it certainly has consequences on the nerves and attitudes of even the most well-adjusted parents. Instead of too much screen-time, take your parents outside to enjoy nature. Encourage new hobbies. Make playdates with other parents you think would have a positive influence on them. (You will also have to guard against them socializing too much with the kind of parents who reinforce their worst habits and viewpoints.) Find media that supports a more nuanced and fair world view. My guess is with simply the media piece jiggered with, you will reap positive results in the form of happier, healthier parents in very quick order.
• Encourage open-mindedness
You may notice your parents reacting in defensive or fearful ways after being exposed to people who are from different countries — especially those where the people generally have darker skin than them — speak different language(s), have different cultural traditions and are of different religious faiths. It is never too early to help your parents understand…