My dad is 92, living on his own, still very much part of the community. He goes on several long walks daily, reads the newspaper, watches the news and other TV, and loves a good crossword. Everyone knows him and stops to chat.
He’s also a very loving grandfather to my three children, and used to help me out a lot when they were younger and all needed to go in separate directions to their various after-school and weekend programs. They’re older now and can take public transportation most places.
What I can’t get my dad to do is go out to restaurants, theatre, movies, basically anywhere that’s not someone’s home. Is this something I should be concerned about?
I’m not a gerontologist, so I can’t give you a specific answer, but it sounds as though your dad is doing fine. His mind is healthy, active, and he’s exercising his brain through reading, word problems, and communication. He’s keeping his body healthy by getting fresh air and going for walks.
Instead of fighting him on what he doesn’t want to do, why not enjoy your time together doing the things he does want to do.
But don’t stop inviting him out. Just knowing that he’s wanted is very important for his sense of belonging and importance. You never know – one day he may say “yes.”
My teenage daughter doesn’t like the new family dog. My husband and I love the puppy, as does our eight-year-old son. My husband and I both grew up with dogs. When we got married, we were both travelling a lot for work. I had a very difficult and complicated pregnancy and our daughter’s first year was tricky. We relocated for work twice – once for my husband, and then again for me – over the next four years, and then I got pregnant again.
We’ve recently moved back home, where both our families live, and decided the time was right to introduce a four-legged friend. Our son needs the love and friendship of a therapy dog.
It’s been six months and she is the best gift we could have ever given him. But our daughter wants nothing to do with her. She refuses to feed her, let her out to the yard, or walk her. She won’t even cuddle her.
How do we deal with this? My husband and I don’t relate.
Fortunately, it does not sound as though your daughter suffers from cynophobia, which is an extreme fear of dogs. Has she ever had a bad experience with another dog? Was she chased, bitten, attacked? This could be an underlying reason.
As long as she can cohabitate with the puppy, and isn’t mistreating or hurting the dog, the family can coexist. She shouldn’t have to care for the dog if she really has no affection for her, but if they do eventually have a relationship, you should probably start introducing sharing in her care.
FEEDBACK Regarding the woman unable to listen to all of her friend’s pregnancy info (Feb. 25):
Reader – “Tokophobia is a fear of pregnancy and/or childbirth. It can be a very intense phobia and can occur in people whether they desire to one day birth children or not. I suffer from it, despite very much wanting to become a mother one day. It used to send me into debilitating anxiety spirals when friends or family would suddenly give unfiltered accounts of their pregnancy and childbirth stories.
“Even movies and television scenes involving pregnancy or childbirth can be very triggering. Women actually do tend to share details of their pregnancy experiences specifically in a way that highlights the difficult and sometimes dangerous nature of growing and birthing a child.
“That is all perfectly understandable, but it is always good to check in with someone before launching into a very intense description. Perhaps this friend doesn’t have the language for it (I didn’t at first), but it may make them very anxious to hear these specifics — particularly if they one day want to have a baby, because they’ll just be imagining it happening to their body.
“It is perfectly OK to say to your friend that hearing details makes you feel anxious and you’d prefer if she could remain a little bit more general. My friends who are mothers have been very understanding and I’m still able to be a supportive friend and share the joy of their experience of new motherhood.”
Lisi – To clarify, tokophobia is a pathological fear of pregnancy leading to a morbid fear of childbirth. Pre-COVID, research shows that 2.5-14 per cent of women are affected.