Parenting Your Parent

What happens when you realize you're parenting your own parent? Hear the story of this blogger's role reversal with her mom, and share yours.

At some point along the way, I must have grown up. Maybe it was when I became a parent myself, or perhaps it was my age or experience in the workforce. Whatever it was, I just came to the realization that while my mom is a smart, successful business woman, she needs some good, ol’ fashioned parenting advice from time to time.

My mom has owned her stationery/invitation business outside of Chicago for 35 years. Through economic downturns and the invention of email and electronic invitations, she has managed to stay afloat with a core customer base that loves her. Her customers respect her and go to her boutique store for everything between a wedding save-the-date and their child’s Bar Mitzvah and birthday invitations. I worked at her store back in high school and felt knowledgeable as the “boss’s daughter” and heir to the stationery throne.

But after college, my plans took me to New York City where I did not pursue a career in the printing business, or have any intention of taking over hers. But I still hear about her issues at work, whether with a stubborn customer or a careless employee. I usually keep my mouth shut, but sometimes, I have to intervene and let her know that while I am not an expert in stationery or invitations, I am a somewhat successful business woman and know a thing or two about business.

Which leads me to her latest email, which she received from a sales rep selling some sort of product/service to her (and no doubt lots of other businesses in her area). She asked for my feedback and I told her that while she probably should pass on it, maybe it would be worth at least a phone call to find out more. Then, she emailed her response to who she thought was the sales rep but turned out to be me, which was a stroke of luck considering this is what the email said (word-for-word):

“’Am out of town on biz and returning tomorrow with a cold and a big work issue to deal with. Would be happy to talk to you but wonder roughly what type of on estment would this entail on my part? I prob cannot play in the same league as your other clients but aporeciate your interest and will be happy to talk soon. Thanks !’ Sent from my iPhone”

I was appalled that my mom (who advises her customers on etiquette and proper spelling/punctuation for invitations) would send this type of unprofessional response to anyone, let alone someone trying to do business with her! All of the sudden, I found myself being the parent and reprimanding her for sending that email, full of typos and unnecessary information, to someone who she thought wasn’t me. And it hit me that now I’M the one parenting my own mom and giving HER advice? That same mom who counseled me after many a breakup, gave me career advice and offered her wisdom during my own parenting challenges?

I realized that while our roles had, indeed, been reversed, they would probably continue to change back and forth in the coming years, whether I call her to ask for parenting advice or she requests my business advice. It’s a nice change and one that I hope will last as my own kids get older and wiser, and hopefully someone will remind me of that when I think I know best (but don't)!

Have you ever had to parent your parent? Share your story here!   

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

JM August 02, 2012 at 11:20 PM
Holy cow, the comments. Lauren... I'm 48. I constantly need to reparent my parents, who are in their 70s and set for life financially, that $1 buys 10cents worth of food today compared to what it purchased when I was a kid... that absolutely no one, man or woman, would ever think to network with me because they fear face2face interaction and can't even save themselves on the corporate ladders of Westchester to buy that food...that nearly every politician (older than say 55) feels entitled to a life of luxury and believe the perils of survival that I go through daily with an MBA are something only those in public housing need to worry about. Lastly, I need to reparent them that the flag probably should be burned, because it has become a worthless memory of what once was.... that dream gone bad thanks to those who taught us that working hard, playing right equated to patriotism. Yes, we used to call that the GOP, my party, the same party that has now destroyed this country in the name of inappropriate, unregulated, unparented responses such as the one your mother sent. Difference is, I'm furious. She is resting comfortably somewhere nursing her cold.
Aidan August 03, 2012 at 12:33 AM
I don't understand some posters at all. All this author was doing was starting a sort of conversation. She wrote about something that zoomed into her life and caused some real reflection. That stuff happens all the time to us all. But seldom do we have anyone to share it with. Lauren's less shy than me. So she tossed it out there ... probably wondering if anyone else could identify with the tale. I can. I became the parent for a time there. Not long enough. If I could I'd vacuum back those moments in a second ... to do them all over again. So, Lauren, you done good. And you write well, too. Don't let anyone move you away from the keyboard.
Enough Already August 03, 2012 at 12:46 AM
Seven paragraphs of minutae. So your Mom messed up an email? Guess what, thats not what has kept her in business all these years. She is doing enough of everything right to know how to be a success. As a working Mom, maybe you should re-evaluate your need for attention with the blogging thing and maybe give a little more of your very precious time to your kids. Your blog posts are vacuous drivel.
Mike August 03, 2012 at 12:51 AM
eatingdogfood August 03, 2012 at 01:40 AM
You forgot this is the gal whose kids tell HER what to do.


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