Take the high road with aging parents

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December 20, 2018 - 9:34 AM

Dear Carolyn: My mom has always been a wonderful baker and has traditionally brought desserts to every family function. However, as she reaches her 70s, her baking has taken a turn for the worse and everything she makes is pretty awful. I feel awful because I know she loves to bake but the desserts are inedible.

I’ve tried everything from saying I’d prefer store-bought to save her time, to saying that we’re trying to be healthy and abstain from dessert, to finally saying that although we sympathize that she can’t have gluten, we’d prefer to make a gluten-full dessert because we don’t find the gluten-free items worth the calories. Nothing deters her and the awful desserts keep coming, along with awkward moments for those who feel compelled to eat them.

This question is about whether it’s better for me to continue being blunt or just learn to bite my tongue, but I’d also like your advice on generally how I should react as she ages. Feeling like she’s contributing is so important to her; how can I help her feel dignified and like she has purpose? She was seriously ill a few years ago and despondent over the idea of not being of use to anyone. I have told her that her presence in our lives is enough, but she doesn’t think it is.

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