When a Parental Push Becomes a Parental Piranha

I recently gave a talk to a group of mature and worldly ladies and was posed this question.

How do I get my 40 year old son to seek medical attention for chronic back pain?” 

Now, I, the queen of all things medical, the lady with all the experience and answers to all questions, must tell you that I don’t think I gave her the answer that brought her peace.  And it hasn’t given me much peace either.

I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

I immediately related to her my experience with our adult daughter’s ten year descent and battle with her eating disorder.  At that time, I did not handle it well.  No, not well at all.  I reasoned, cried, stated the facts, tried to instill fear, yelled, pleaded, threatened, and cajoled to no avail.

It was easy when they were kids, wasn’t it?  They refused to do something, you took away a privilege: playing outside, playing with their friends, watching a favorite show, using the phone or their electronics.  But, dang it! – These things don’t work anymore.

And then I did what I do when I am facing medical mayhem – I looked for the funny. I told the lady that if she were Italian, like me, she could bribe him with his favorite meal if he’d call a doctor.  If she were German, like my husband, she’d tell him in that strong voice “YOU   WILL   GO   TO  THE   DOCTOR   NOW!”  She could trick him into taking her to the doctor and unbeknownst to him – he’d be the patient.  Of course, she could still do all the things I did with Francesca.  But none of these work for very long.

You see, what I learned throughout my seasons in life (like my own battle with over eating) is in order to get someone to do something they have to want to do it themselves.  You have no say-so, no control, and even if you did it would only be for a short time before they’d fall back into their own ways of care.

So what would I tell this lady if I were to see her again?  I wish I had a good answer or a formula for her to apply.  But I don’t.  But here are a few thoughts.

I would tell her to see the adult child, not the disease.

I would tell her to nurture the relationship but lose the nagging.  Adult children have the feeling that their loving parents have turned into a piranha and end up just blocking everything out – both good and bad advice. At least that’s how Francesca thought of me during our “food wars”.

I would tell her not to let fear guide her reactions; but to remain involved in her son’s life.  Love him where he is at.  Make memories – happy ones.  Time will come when he will need you.  And you want to be there for him.

I would tell her to pray for God’s intervention.  Remember that what you can’t do – God can.  Thank Him in advance for what He will do.  Don’t set the time line for God’s work to be done; rather know and believe God’s got this.

Pray for the Holy Spirit to grant you the “peace that transcends all understanding”.

We cannot change our grown children’s actions, but we can love them through it.

Do you worry about someone you love who isn’t taking care of themselves?  What did you or not do to help the situation?  Please share in the conversation so that others might gain (including me) from your experience.


Thank you for reading my post.  If you have found it encouraging please consider liking, commenting or sharing it.  Feel free to even re-blog – may these words take flight!

I have additional insights I’d love to share with you found in the pages of my debut book: Surviving Medical Mayhem – Laughing When It Hurts.  To order a copy or learn more go to my website at www.lorettaschoen.com

Blessings for Health & Wellness.



Comments (1)

  1. Great article. I recently worried and prayed for my grandson. He seemed to be making all the wrong choices. He thought all his choices were best. I cried and prayed harder, and asked my friends to pray. I believe the prayers were answered. And the answer was — Keep praying for his safety and trust. Suddenly his outlook changed–he bought a fixer-up=house and with mom’s help he worked and felt a sense of accomplishment. A friend mentioned a marine yacht program that would result in an Associates degree that could later be used for higher education. Marine education intrigued him. He is now thirsting to learn (what a shocker) He’s taking the classes and wanting to gain more knowledge. What God sent us was a focus on something other than himself. A project, another person, helping someone else. He got outside of himself. He is 21 now and I’m so proud of him. Sometimes it’s just a matter of finding something that intrigues you and you forget all about you and begin living outside yourself.

    February 15, 2021 at 8:57 pm

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