【陳慧珊】有一種教育,叫學習做決定 (32)我們的定位:父母與孩子的中間人

2017-03-08


看著女兒成長的同時,我也發現父母日漸年老。父母在波士頓生活,而我不是每年都能抽身探望,所以每次與他們相聚時,我都會驚覺歲月在他們身上留下的痕跡是多麼明顯。

幸運的是,父母日漸年老的事實對我而言不算太難接受,雖然我們的居住地相隔甚遠,但至少雙親仍健在,還常常贈我幾句金玉良言。不過話雖如此,事實上,我還是要在心理和生理上,開始為照顧年邁的父母作好準備。

大部分人到了四、五十歲,都會夾在孩子和父母兩代人之間,他們都需要我們的愛護和照料。活在兩代人之間,我們更要做一個有能力的決策者,同時應付培育幼兒和照顧父母的責任。

要做到有能力、有承擔,我們應常常謹記兩件事:一、要讓孩子從跌碰中成長;二、絕不能讓父母跌倒半步。無論在心理或生理上皆是如此。

我們要清楚知道自己的定位──在兩代人之間,我們站在至關重要的中間位置,肩負著無比重大的責任。

讓孩子從跌碰中成長
小孩子很幸福,他們縱然跌倒百次,但也可以絲毫不損。因為年輕可讓疤痕褪色,純真可補心靈缺口。只要我們在孩子跌碰的旅程上,不時教育他們,指引正途,便能幫助他們找到治療身心靈痛楚的靈丹妙藥。

然而,只有願意放手讓孩子盡情跌倒,我們才有教育他們的機會。跌倒總難免,但有了經驗,每一次跌倒所受的傷害會愈來愈輕。而且,趺倒後得到的寶貴經驗,會是了解自己的不二法門。

但作為父母,如何在明知孩子會跌一跤的情況下,仍然堅持不扶他一把?如何下定決心不帶孩子走捷徑?如何在心軟的同時,給孩子機會去闖盪磨練?

回想自己的童年時光,相信你也認同讓孩子跌跌碰碰,會是正確之選。

從自身經驗來看,我們知道讓孩子跌跌碰碰,可以幫助他們建立自己的身份認同、了解友誼的界限、學習分辨是非黑白,以及探索自己能承受多大的痛苦,並由此改變自己,逐步成長。如此一來,他們日後面對更嚴峻的身心轉變,都有能力運用累積的智慧,捱過每一個難關。

因此,作為父母,我們要忍心放手讓孩子一跌,再從旁了解他們的想法,給予鼓勵。然後,你就能夠站在孩子身後,為他能夠逐步邁向自我而感到驕傲。

絕不能讓父母跌倒半步
和當父母相反,我們為人子女,在任何時間及情況下,都必須確保父母不要跌倒。因為我們知道,小小一跌都足以帶來嚴重後果。

父母日漸年老的同時,也想繼續保持身心上的獨立,因此我們必須掌握平衡,在保護父母的同時,別當他們是小朋友般,對他們說教。要做到這一點,需要有同理心。我們不能讓父母跌倒,但也不可以令父母誤會我們在輕看他們的能力。

我們要有同理心,因為沒有人想令自己看起來連基本自理能力也缺乏。當我們接手管理父母身心靈的健康時,切忌連他們的自尊心也一併剝奪。

諷刺的是,我們花了大半生,只為學習變得更獨立。而當年老時,我們還要學習更複習的生存技巧,面對已消逝的青春、變得模糊的記憶,以及不再靈活的身軀,為的只是繼續保持獨立。我們未必能直接了解連身體也不受控制是何種滋味,但同理心會幫助我們在照顧他人的路上,明白別人的需要,提供適當的支援。

因此,我們必須謹守崗位,確保父母走到哪兒也不會跌倒半步(無論在心靈或身體上)。不論從父母或我們自身的經驗,都會知道這是最正確的選擇。

父母在小時候給予我的愛護、鼓勵和教育,現在我全部都活用在女兒身上。而今天,換著年邁的父母需要由我扶持,我亦有信心去承擔這份責任。只要清楚知道自己的定位,讓孩子從跌撞中學習,同時保護父母免受跌碰傷害,我就會感到心安理得,因為這是對兩代人而言最妥善的照顧方式。

Decision Making is Educational

“Knowing Where We Stand”

As I watch my daughter grow, I also discover my parents ageing. Since I don’t always get to visit my Bostonian parents yearly, the shock of seeing my parents turning frail becomes more apparent during those occasional home visits.

Fortunately, the reality of my parents ageing is easier to bear when I remind myself of how fortunate I am that I still have both parents around for wise words and comfort, albeit we live in different continents. However, comforting as that may be, it doesn’t take away the reality that the time has come for the need to prepare to care for my elderly parents, both mentally and physically.

For most of us in our forties and fifties, we’re positioned between two generations that simultaneously need our TLC. Being situated in the middle of two poles of the generation scale, we need to be competent decision makers in order to juggle the responsibilities of caring for our children while preparing for elderly care.

To be a responsible and competent caregiver, it may be helpful to keep in mind that the difference between educating a nine-year-old and a seventy-nine-year-old is to always encourage our children to fall, but to never allow our parents to fall. These two decisions are crucial to keeping our children and parents mentally and physically balanced.

The key to feeling good about these two decisions lies in knowing exactly where we stand in the generation scale, and knowing the responsibilities that come from being in that all-important mid-position.

Let Our Children Fall
Children have the luxury of falling one hundred times and not being traumatized. Youth mends broken bones and innocence mends broken promises, while we can always depend on education to pave their journey towards finding solutions to both psychological and physical pains.
But education can only take place when adults give children room to make their own decisions, and allow them to suffer the consequences. Falling is inevitable, but with practice, the falling becomes less painful. And the returns gained from falling is the educational experience towards knowing oneself.

But how do we parents stand firm in our decision to let our children take that plunge, with the possibility of falling? How do we resist shortening the process of our children’s pain? How do we cringe yet still give our children the opportunity to struggle?
By reflecting on the wisdom that came from our own childhood education, we can stand firm that our decision to let our children fall is the right decision.

From our own experiences, we know that giving our children the liberty to fall will eventually lead them to develop their own sense of identity, establish their own friendship boundaries, understand notions of right and wrong, and to experiment and explore their threshold of pain, so that change and growth could take place. And as our children get older and face more dramatic emotional and physical changes, self-knowledge could get them through any fall.

Therefore, what we can do as parents is to stand firm in our decision to let our children fall, while we offer understanding and assurance. Then we could stand back with pride as we watch them succeed in their journey towards perfecting a progressively refined sense of self.

Don’t Let Our Elderly Parents Fall
While we can be a safety net to catch our children when they fall, it’s a different story when it comes to our parents. It’s crucial that as sons or daughters, that we, at all times, protect our parents from even the slightest possibility of falling. Because we all know that one seemingly harmless fall could result in dire consequences.

While our parents age and struggle to maintain mental and physical independence, the skill of balancing our roles as supporters without crossing the line into treating our parents like children, is a feat that requires the wisdom of empathy. While we can’t let our parents fall, we also don’t want to suffocate them into feeling like we don’t trust them to stand on their own two feet.

The education of empathy reveals that no one wants to feel like they can no longer take care of themselves. Therefore, it’s crucial that while we take “control” of our parents’ mental and physical health, that we don’t take control of their pride of maintaining a sense of independence.

The irony is that we spend a large part of our life learning the skills to become independent, yet when we age, we have to relearn more complex skills in order to maintain that independence, without the luxury of youth, memory, or coordination. While we may not directly know what this loss of self-control may feel like, empathy could guide us towards being understanding and supportive throughout our caregiving journey.

Therefore, we must be adamant in our position to protect our parents from falling (mentally and physically), because our parents’ self-knowledge plus our own wisdom to empathize, tell us that it’s the right decision for all parties.

With the love, encouragement, and education that my parents provided for me in my childhood, I can transfer the ways in which they cared for me to my own daughter. And now, as an adult daughter facing the reality of my ageing parents needing my support, I feel equipped to shoulder the vulnerabilities, sensitivities, and complexities that come with this shift of responsibility. As long as I know where I stand in my decision to encourage my children to fall, while being vigilant to prevent my parents from ever falling, I can go to bed peacefully each night knowing that I am simultaneously providing the best possible personal and intellectual care to both generations.

 

作者:陳慧珊

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【陳慧珊】有一種教育,叫學習做決定 (31)學會遣詞用字,逐步邁向成熟

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