Shouldn't elderly parents always be focused on what is best for their adult children?
In a recent discussion here on this website, the above question was raised by an adult child. In the name of "love" this sounds like a noble thought at first. I would like to address it here and open it up for others to consider.
Historically, our nation's culture and legal system was based on tenets of the Bible such as the Ten Commandments. One of those commandments is, "Honor your father and mother that your days may be long on the land which the Lord your God has given you." It is the first commandment with a promise attached. If we honor our parents (culturally), it will result in a longer life in our homeland. (I recognize that this promise was given to the Jews by God. But it just as easily could be applied to all of us. There is something special about honoring our parents. It doesn't mean we have to always agree with them, of course.)
I have observed that life seems to be like the seashore, the waves coming in against the shore, and then leaving again, over and over. Cycles or seasons of life, so to speak. You may have heard or read another verse in the Bible: "To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven." Our lives seem to have seasons or cycles, such as: a time to be born, a time to be dependent and be nourished by others, a time to grow physically and mentally, a time to give and contribute and struggle, a time to look inward, a time to be dependent again, a time to let go.
No one likes to be dependent on others as an adult. Aged parents don't want to be dependent on their children, nor do we want to admit that we need their help. And adult children are in the thick of life trying to raise a family, build a career or at least hold down a job to support their families, etc. BUT life has a different plan and, more often that not, interrupts our preconceived ideas and forces us to confront ourselves.
Nothing on this earth is permanent, except perhaps, love. So, through the various seasons of our lives, where does love fit in? What does it look like? What does it do? How does it act and think? What is life demanding of us? How do we respond? What are our responsibilities through and within each stage of our lives and the lives of those we say we love? And finally, are we willing to grow? Are we willing to be responsive, to be molded and changed, even into our old age?
And the final question might be: "What's it all about, Alfie?" What is the purpose of life, of living?
If we do not confront these questions in our culture, society, and within ourselves, we will eventually become more like Nazi Germany was prior to and during WWII, preferring to euthanize the elderly, the weak, the sick among us rather than learn the deeper lessons of life waiting to be revealed to us.
I have learned that sometimes love has to be tough; more often, it requires great patience, endurance, effort, and forgiveness.
What say you?