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Father of the Bride

by Louis on March 24, 2008

Father of the Bride starring Steve Martin and Diane Keaton is one of my favorite movies. Though it takes some dramatic license to make the story fun and exciting it is very real in presenting stories that are close to our lives and feelings. It helps me remember that these middle years are the best of our lives.

In one set up scene Steve and Diane’s daughter, just returning from a summer in Europe, begins to tell her parents that she met the man of her dreams and is ready to start planning her wedding. Steve Martin keeps rubbing his eyes trying to get things into focus. He hears the same words we hear but sees them come from a 6 year old. It is true for all of us. It is hard to reconcile that our children become grownups right before our eyes. How can this ‘kid’ be making such an important decision?

Another thing hard to reconcile is ‘kids’ giving their parents advice. Does my dad see a six year old when I talk about healthy aging? This was a looming issue at a community forum for Aging in Place this fall. This local event was part of National Aging in Place Week, sponsored by the National Aging in Place Council, to highlight issues and stimulate family discussion. The eager crowd mixed older folks and their ‘kids’. Some attended together, some separately.

One question came out in different forms: “How do I talk to my parents about this subject?” I am not sure of the answer. Sometimes I have luck as a neutral outside party. Sometimes my neutrality is tainted because I am ‘invited’ by the son or daughter. There are lots of buttons to push or avoid on a loaded topic like this. So many people. So many feelings.

The question are not new:
How come this information, which on its face makes so much sense, is so hard to get out there?
How to best present this information, with just enough threat of the consequences of not acting, to get the point across?
Basically it gets down to the social marketing question, How do we get people to act in their own interest?

The Met Life Mature Marketing Institute has published a ten point guide on talking to your parents. You can find it under consumer publications. That is just one place where this topic is raised. We need to work hard and with sensitivity to find the answers.

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