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Children, May I Have Your Attention


Sylvia's children are making decisions without consulting her, and she's asked Mary Maxwell to help. Mary's very matter-of-fact speech to the children serves as an excellent (and humorous) example of how to put your foot down.

Download a transcript of this Mary Maxwell video (PDF)

If you're a senior with adult children, the 70-40 Rule® can help you break the ice with your kids, before a crisis has occurred and even after one already has happened. Be sure to check out Ten Tips to Help Seniors Communicate with Their Boomer Children to help you get started.

Children, May I Have Your Attention

Mary Maxwell, Posted December 12, 2011

Silvia writes, "Dear Mary, I have 5 children who seem to think I'm either too old or too stupid to make my own decisions. They come in and move things around and make arrangements without even discussing it with me. When we are all here, no one talks to me--just around me. I am still their mother and deserve a little respect. How can I put my foot down without alienating them entirely?"

Oh, Silvia. I've heard this scenario before. I think you should say something like this: "Children, may I have your attention? You seem to think I'm unequal to the task of living my own life but I want to tell you, I haven't made a stupid decision since your father and I agreed that it would be fun to have child #5. The furniture is placed the way it is to cover the patch of carpeting that child #2 set on fire when he knocked over his birthday cake when he was 19 and also to cover the wine stain that child #3 and her friends made when they tried to hide the bottle when I caught them drinking Merlot during spring break their sophomore year in high school. And children, let us remember that there is a will and you would be wise not to irritate the person who can change the will at a moment's notice. Thank you for your kind attention. Now, if you know what's good for you, you'll put that chair back where it was."

Watch the video,

Visit to discover more wit and wisdom from Mary Maxwell, as well as expert advice from Dr. Amy D'Aprix and other videos, articles, and resources for family caregivers.

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