CHAPTER ONE Introduction When adult children go to help their aging parents with legal and finan- cial planning, there will be almost always be communication issues.1 Many of these issues will be between the parents and the children, but some will involve the children and other relatives and friends. Many of these issues will have to do with differences in personal histories, family roles, personalities, life stages, and other factors, not the least of which is what money and property mean symbolically to the different parties. Parents and their adult children have very different life histories. Over their lifetimes, people come to experience the world differently. Each individual’s unique history (combined with DNA) affects the way they see the world as adults. A single childhood experience can lead a person to be more open or more closed to new experiences. When people see the world differently, there’s no reason they should react the same way to new things. The key to understanding how to help your parents is to learn to distinguish the way you and perhaps the rest of the family see the world from the way your parents do. Parents and their adult children have very different roles in the family. Your mother will always be your mother and see herself that way, even if her skills and abilities are declining. Your father will always be your father too. And you will always be their child. Rather than expecting your parents simply to give up their parental roles, it’s more realistic to expect them to be ambivalent, even anxious. They’ll probably cling to as much of
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