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I am posting this here because I feel like it's time to become a "parent" for my parents...

I'm 26, my parents are 50 years old. A few months ago when I visited them, it hit me, that they have "empty" lives. All they do is working (boring jobs), coming back home, eating and watching TV. No hobbies, no interests (I don't count watching TV and being mad at politics as hobbies or interests). I can clearly see that they aren't satisfied with their lives and I strongly believe it is because of this emptiness. My goal is to make them change.

They have basic computer skills (browsing the Internet, using office applications). It would be best to make them learn English (since after learning English you can learn simply anything from the Internet / develop any hobby), but making them find a hobby would be a big step, too. I already tried to talk with them, but they said that they are too old to learn new things or develop a new hobby.

How can I convince them that being 50, being finally financial-free (since I have already finished my studies and my sister is finishing them in the next month, too) and having much free time is a great time for learning new things or developing a new hobby?

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    Have you asked them, which hobbies/interests they had when they where younger and had less duties? It might be a big step to start a new hobby, but I minor step to revive an old one. – Arsak Jun 30 '18 at 14:15
  • In due time, you'll find that there's nothing more fulfilling in life than raising kids. The next best thing is having a quality social life. Everything else is a meaningless rat race. Your parents' life is not wasted - far from it. – Denis de Bernardy Jun 30 '18 at 20:43
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I think the first important thing is to let go of this idea that you are going to 'make' your parents do anything. This is not even what happens when you are a parent. You will of course give your child every opportunity you think will benefit them, but they are the ones who must decide that something sparks their passion and do the work required to achieve in that area.

When people get to the age your parents are at, having raised a family and passed many of the usual life milestones, and are not doing the things they may have wanted or needed to do to feel full life satisfaction, there are either deep-set reasons or ingrained patterns. It is hard to change a lot of things about who you are and how you go through life at twenty-five or thirty. It's even more so at fifty. If you go into this with the expectation that you will enact particular change, you may wind up frustrated and burned out and damaging the relationship you have with your parents.

I have been where you are, deeply grateful for the life my parents set up for me and wanting to help them achieve their dreams. My case was even clear-cut as I had a parent constantly talking about the things she had always longed to do and what she needed to do them. I was easily able to remove the barriers in front of her with financial and technical support... but a number of years have passed and she is not in a notably different place. She has found new intangible barriers to replace the practical ones. I think I have helped, but she needs to work through a lot of stuff in her own head before she can achieve her dreams, and that is something I can't help her with beyond showing a willingness to listen.

Offering to open up your parents' world through for example English classes is a great idea. They need opportunities to find new interests on their own and take ownership of any process of adding new things into their lives. By the same token it is only likely to be effective if they are motivated and not just being nagged by you into doing things. If spending time with their children motivates them you could find a class or other activity you or your sister could also attend. Or if you can work out what some of their unfulfilled goals might be, find or organise an activity that will lead them quickly to some small part of that goal in a way they can see, so that they may get excited enough to start pushing the process themselves.

But do remember that they are their own people, and you can't judge how they are using their lives based on your values and experiences. A mistake you can make when stepping into the 'parenting' role is trying to give someone what you think you would have wanted, which may be useless to them. Try looking at how your parents spend their leisure time without judgement, it may actually hold the key to how you can help them. Their TV-watching might indicate they would enjoy the opportunity to see more movies, or the shows they watch might tell you they are interested in food or sports. Even if they just watch terrible soaps that might indicate they would enjoy certain so-called 'trashy' novels! If they like to go on about politics, they could get involved in a party. That might be a good way to make like-minded friends, which could be all they need to fill their lives up. Socialising is a hobby for a lot of people

Certainly never let go of the idea of bringing positive things into your parents' lives, but realise that just because they seem to exhibit dissatisfaction does not mean they are looking to do things differently or that they will do so when you think they should. I have yet to go through this myself but I have been told that the point at which all the children are grown and independent can be a difficult time. They may simply be mourning the end of that stage of parenting and working through the realisation that they are a lot older now. They've clearly done some things right if they have a child who is motivated to give back to them. Let them know you are eager to help them with anything they need and, however hard it may be at times, respect that they have the right to use their lives as they choose.

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As a 50+ year old myself, with brain damage to boot, I don't buy the too old to learn angle. Lots of successful people start anew at an advanced age.

How can I convince them that being 50, being finally financial-free (since I have already finished my studies and my sister is finishing them in next month too)

I strongly suspect that too old to learn is code for "I don't know what to do with no kids in the house" or "I'm broke and close to retirement, and see no hope for having the money to do what I really want to"

Being 50 and not having kids at home is a long way from financially free.

It may be worth while (or a major faux pas) to have a frank discussion of finances with them. My own family has been more open about our finances with our kids than is normal, but it really helps prevent misunderstandings.

All they do is working (boring jobs), coming back to home, eating and watching tv

At 50, your energy levels are not what they were when you were in your 20's. In my 20's I could work all day, then go back country wilderness camping. In my 50's, by the end of my work day I am exhausted, and will minimize energy expenditure and cost by day tripping.

Some hobbies and interests that can be adopted later in life on a budget

There are many hobbies and interests that are low and/or shared cost. I like live webcasting/community TV (production that is, not necessarily viewing). Historical reenactment societies (grown ups playing dress up) are a lot of fun and can be budget friendly. My own family has a group of families that we get together with on a regular basis to have a finger foods and board games day. My mother learned glass sculpting when she was 79 years old.

You might check our some activities yourself and invite them to join you. But in the end you will have to accept that they are adults and will make their decisions.

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Just because you think their lives are boring doesn't mean they think their lives are boring. You think they are "financially free", but you don't know how much debt they may have taken on to get you and your sis through school. You also don't know if they've been saving for a vacation, a new car, adding extra money for their retirement, or tucking away money for their daughters' wedding(s). Their current lifestyle may be out of habit because they were busy raising children. You really do spend most every night at home when you have kids that have to go to school the next day.

It's great that you want more for your parents. And it's nice that you and your sister have grown up and won't be a burden. But consider this... your parent's might be fine with their lives just like they are.

If you and your sister really want to do something for them, after she gets a job and you are both able to contribute: Ask them where the two of you can send them for a vacation. Something that you and your sister give them (all expenses paid). Tell them to think about it and figure out where they would like to go. That will allow them to dream of what they might want going forward. That is something you can make possible.

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If they're resistant to change (as most people are) and do not know English, it is possible that they are spending their time in solitary because they find it to be too much effort to try to go out and interact with others.

Maybe they just need to move to a part of town that speaks their language (both literally and metaphorically).

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