My parents treat the helper badly

My elderly parents have unreasonably high expectations of domestic helpers. When everyday things are not done their way, they get upset and raise their voices. This causes a lot of tension at home. Many helpers have come and gone, and I am afraid we will soon be barred by the Ministry of Manpower from hiring any more. How do I persuade my parents that they need a mindset change about helpers and to treat them kindly?


At The Well

Ai Jin says

Dear Carol,

This may require you to persevere in achieving clear communication between your parents and helper. It would be expedient to speak to each of your parents individually, enlisting their help to be willing to cooperate and work with you on this. Often, it helps to provide a listening ear to simply acknowledge their frustrations.

While detailed planning is not everyone’s strong suit, most households benefit from having a timetable and comprehensive task lists drawn up at the beginning. Instructions written down succinctly gives clarity, provides order and consistency for everyone to agree and adhere to.

First, make a list of the helper’s tasks, detailing the steps required of each task. Note your parent’s expectations and translate that to simple instructions for your helper to follow. Do state also the method, frequency and other pertinent details. Put the instructions in a place that is visible to everyone.

As you communicate the instructions to the helper, do check that she understands and have the helper demonstrate that she is able to achieve them. Suppose the tasks are not achievable, they will have to be renegotiated with your parents, and have them agree with you what can be done instead.

Frustrations and heightened emotions can hijack your efforts for clear communication. Do schedule down times to give your helper and parents physical space apart. This provides everyone an opportunity to calm down before returning.