Home » Rambles » Taking care of your parents when the relationship is bad

Taking care of your parents when the relationship is bad

There is nothing about being an adult child that means you want to take care of your parents. There is nothing about the situation that says you even know how to.

You didn’t enter into this relationship voluntarily. Nobody asked you if you wanted to be the child of these people, and nobody asked you if you wanted to take care of them as they got older.

Just because they raised you doesn’t mean you are obliged.

What if they did a poor job of raising you? What if they were abusive? What are your obligations and responsibilities then?

Sure, there is social pressure and Christian guilt to deal with. Society expects you to drop everything and take care of these people. Forget the fact that you barely have enough time money or energy to take care of yourself.

Getting married is a legal commitment. You swear before your friends and family and a witness that you will take care of each other, no matter what happens. You make no such commitment to your parents. It is all passive. You are born into this family. You have no choice, and you haven’t promised anybody anything.

But yet you are expected to drive them around when they can’t anymore, to cook for them, to spend the night at their house when they are afraid…the list goes on and on.

Taking care of your parents is like taking care of children, but in reverse. As they grow older, they grow more needy and less able to care for themselves. As they grow older, they grow less independent and more dependent.

The really big problem is that unlike children, they remember being independent, and they don’t know how to receive help. They certainly don’t want to get help from their children, regardless of their age. They feel that something is wrong with this situation, and that they are losing control and power. That only makes the situation more difficult.

Another problem is that nobody trains you, the adult child, how to take over responsibility. Nobody tells you that now you are the parent and they are the child. So it is hard for you and for your parents.

If there is a history of abuse or neglect it is even harder.

People who had a great relationship with their parents cannot understand this.

One thought on “Taking care of your parents when the relationship is bad

  1. -Just because they raised you doesn’t mean you are obliged (post, above).

    Except, that it usually does. Your parents could have dumped you in the forest as small child, and in the Middle Ages parents sometimes did this. I agree with much of what you say. If your parents mistreated you, I am very sorry. I also think severe child abuse history can relieve children of moral responsibility for geriatric care–obviously, if a parent does want their kids to care about them in future, then they must treat them at least decently.

    Although I’m less sure about this, I think that in some U.S. states and some western countries, there may in fact be a minimum legal obligation to parents–not a requirement to provide direct physical care, but still a duty to see that a parent’s condition is reported to elder services, or that care is arranged for in some way if it is needed.

    Like

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