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Did Your Mother Really Know Best?

Witnessing our parents' aging process can be painful. Some people find the pain so unbearable that they find reasons to be angry with their parents. Some use other distancing behaviors so they feel justified in withdrawing. Most of us don't go to this extreme, but many of us find that occasionally we'll look at one or both of our parents and feel a shockwave go through us.

"They are getting old!"

I am a daughter who has experienced the shock of watching your parents age before your eyes. Even though, for the greater part of my life, I lived in the same community as my parents and saw them often—or maybe because of that fact—their aging came at me, during certain moments in time, like punches to the gut. You may be experiencing a similar reaction.

These people once took care of our needs. Now they need—or may soon need—our help. While it's not logical thinking, we can feel a little betrayed. The child inside of us rebels. We don't want our parents to grow old and frail, for our sake, not just theirs. We can begin to feel kind of "orphaned."

Reflections on our Childhood

Nearly every childhood leaves us with mixed memories. Even siblings raised together by the same parents can have wildly differing views on how their shared childhood played out. For most of us, there are times when we think, "Hmm, Mom was right about that." Other times, we know for certain she was wrong. The same goes for Dad, of course, but we're addressing Mom in this particular article.

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Over the span of two decades, author, columnist, consultant and speaker Carol Bradley Bursack cared for a neighbor and six elderly family members. Her experiences inspired her to pen, "Minding Our Elders: Caregivers Share Their Personal Stories," a portable support group book for caregivers.

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