In the Know ; Opinion
When do you start letting go of your children?
The Art of Parenting By Kathleen Turner
As the 2012 presidential race has unfolded, it’s been intriguing to see the prominent role taken by
the young adult children of the candidates.
Mitt Romney’s sons have stumped for their
father, and Rick Santorum’s 20-year-old
daughter campaigned from Iowa to Hawaii.
Earlier in the primary season, Jon Huntsman’s daughters literally sang their father’s
praises on You Tube.
My interest stems in part from the fact
that my daughter, Rachel, is now 24 and
in charge of her own life. I can’t speak to
the candidates’ experiences with their
children, but I’ve found that this stage
of parenthood presents real challenges.
When do you start letting go? When, and
how, do you stop parenting?
These aren’t easy questions, and they figure
strongly in my new movie, The Perfect Family. My character, Eileen Cleary,
is a devout Catholic who has become deeply involved with her church since
her son and daughter left home. When she learns that she’s been nominated
Catholic Woman of the Year, it means a great deal to her. However, part of
the official evaluation concerns the health of her family as Catholics, and
Eileen discovers that there are aspects of her children’s lives that do not
conform to church strictures. Eileen must grapple with the fact that her
kids are making their own choices now; she cannot dictate.
It’s funny how certain situations come back around in the journey from
childhood to parenthood. I studied acting in college, while one older sib-
ling was working on a degree in city planning and the other in psychol-
ogy. My mother told me she didn’t understand my choice. “Well, if your
brother and your sister succeed in their work, what they do will be helping
other people,” she said. “It seems to me that what you do is only about
yourself.” I remember telling her that if I did
what I wanted and expected with my career,
I, too, would touch and change lives. A few
years later, she wrote me a long letter of
apology that told me she valued my choice.
You take on all the
Then suddenly, we’re
supposed to stop.
Kathleen Turner is a Golden Globe Award-winning actress.
; The Best Care Possible By Ira Byock, M.D.
Nearly everyone who is
asked where they want to
spend their final days says
at home, surrounded by people they love and
who love them. That’s the consistent finding
of surveys and, in my experience as a doctor,
remains true when people become patients.
Unfortunately, it’s not the way things turn
out. At present, just over one-fifth of Ameri-
cans are at home when they die. Over 30 per-
cent die in nursing homes, where, according
to polls, virtually no one says they want to be.
Hospitals remain the site of over 50 percent
of deaths in most parts of the country, and
nearly 40 percent of people who die in a hos-
pital spend their last days in an ICU, where
they will likely be sedated or have their arms
tied down so they will not pull out breathing
tubes, intravenous lines, or catheters. Dying
is hard, but it doesn’t have to be this hard.
—From The Best Care Possible: A Physician’s Quest to Transform Care Through
the End of Life, Avery/Penguin, 2012.
MARK VELTMAN/THE NEW YORK TIMES/REDUX
aarp.org/bulletin MAY 2012