Parents who use guilt trip, "I took care of you for all those years and supported you now you have to take care of me!"

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Big difference. Yes kids are a huge handful, can be a nightmare and put you in the poor house, but normal families (I've heard there are actually some out there) raising kids is fairly routine. Kids get smarter, learn good judgement, take care of themselves go away and support themselves. Elders who are failing physically and mentally are going the opposite direction. I'd take the terrible twos any day over dementia and dying. Should we be expected to return our parents child raising work with total devotion to their elder care? No nursing home? Gotta live with them or they with you?


It depends how one was raised, I think. For me, the answer was crystal clear. Mom would stay with me as long as I could care for her. She was a loving mom who worked her fingers to the bone to support us both. How could I do anything less?

How do YOU want to be treated? The way we treat our own parents is the way we teach our children to care for us.
Honestly, I think it's just a poor rationalization. Elderly people want to maintain the lifestyle and amenities to which they grew accustomed during their healthy adult years. They can't manage it themselves any longer, so they look around for help. What better help than someone they know well and trust, someone they don't have to pay, and someone they have taken care of in the past, laying the groundwork for a claim of indebtedness or reciprocity? Adult children are simply the ideal unpaid labor force for elderly parents who want it all, long after they're no longer capable of maintaining it on their own.

Do I think eldercare is comparable to what parents did for us as kids? Hello, no!!! My mother is fairly well, so I am generally just a chore fairy at this point, only rarely a hands-on caregiver. However, my life has been on hold for 4.5 years so I can live in her state of residence and be available to her on at least a weekly basis for errands, transportation, home maintenance, cleaning, bed changing, hauling groceries and mail into the house and garbage and recycling items back out again. When we were kids, we all lived where my father's job was. We didn't decide where to live and expect the caregivers to pick up and move with us. That's only one example of the differences - there of course are many more.

I think this post raises an important question that is almost always overlooked. The question is not - are we obligated to take care of our parents? The question is: What exactly do we owe them in terms of care? Do we owe them the lifestyle they led when they were young and able-bodied, at our own expense? Or do we owe them assurance that they won't starve or be homeless or be left sitting in their own soiled mess once they can no longer care for themselves? Or somewhere in between?
I have heard this guilt trip for my entire life, but it has been used as a weapon to me ever since my father went into the nursing home 4 months ago. My husband and I moved closer to him to help him out 25 years ago. I have taken almost full time care of him since my mother died 6 years ago. I raised 2 sons in the shadow of this. I agree .... raising 2 teenagers was a piece of cake compared to taking care of him. My boys never brought the police to my door. My father has had several interactions with law enforcement, many calls of complaint from neighbors, concerned citizens, etc. So after 25 years of indentured servitude, my father no longer speaks to me because I will not pull him out of the skilled nursing center that he needs to be in. He expects me to care for him in his home. I need to go back to work so that I can pay some bills and save for my own retirement. My whole family dynamic is shattered and I feel like I have wasted the best years of my life and my marriage.

You bring up a really important question! The bible says honor thy parents. The bible also says that if you cast aside your spouse and children you are an infidel. For myself, I say that making your parents first above all for over 50 years is enough. My father is well taken care of, medical, nutrition, social needs met. If I am no longer worth making eye contact or verbal contact with, so be it. I figure if I start taking care of my own health, I may be lucky to milk another 20 years for myself. Selfish, yes...maybe.

Only you can decide what the next level of the relationship with your parents will be. If they are stubborn controlling people, in my opinion, moving them in with your new nuclear family will not be easy. It may even destroy the marital and parent child relationships that you have worked your whole life to achieve.

Good luck to you as you sound like you have arrived at a crossroads in your caretaking journey. Before you make your decision, I would encourage you to look at assisted living, small private care homes, etc. Do not let them back you into a corner. Let the decision be yours before you agree to anything. For sure, make sure you have the tools such as the POA's wills, etc before you venture forth. Sounds like you have your hands full!
Family dynamics. It depends on your situation - cliche, I know. People show you how to treat them. If you have a great relationship, it can be easy-peasy.
My mother and I didn't speak for almost 20 years - raging alcoholic that allowed abuse of her 3 children by stepfather. Denial of abuse. Once I separated enough from the dysfunction with help from therapy and distance and she sobered up, we were able to have a good relationship. I watched my mother provide care LONG DISTANCE care for grandmother in another city until grandmother broke hip. Grandmother stayed with my mother and her sister (my aunt) until grandmother developed bleeding disorder and moved to NH where she died within a month. Aunt (mother's sister) stayed with mother and not with aunt's son (who lived in same city with 5 bedroom house) for over 10 years rent-free until she died. My sister would have had my mother stay with her-fine with me. My mother and I discussed my mother's increasing needs for care and agreed that she was welcome for visits no longer than a week in duration. YOU SEE my mother's parents cared for my mother. My mother did not care for her parents in her home long term and my mother did not move to be closer to her parents to provide care. Both parents were told that they had to move closer to her or be cared for in a facility. So I told my mother that she would have that same arrangement with me. My mother deserved to be safe and as comfortable as possible, but I was not going to be her one-on-one slave. Did that as a codependent child/teenager - not good for either of us as adult. But my best friend's now 88 year old mother has lived with her for 19 years. Worked fine when they both worked, lots more tension as the mother's aging has caused higher care needs and the daughter developed her own health issues. But their family took care of elders in the home until they needed NH 24/7 care, so daughter and mother live together.
No one solution for all.
IMO, obligation goes from a person to their children. Anything going the other way is done out of love and compassion, and not an obligation. Our duties as children are to make sure that parents are safe, fed, and suitably cared for. However, we do not owe our lives to them to ensure that their lives don't have to change. So often an adult child quits their job and moves to take care of parents, often ensuring that the child will end up in poverty and with a broken life. It makes more sense for the parents to be the one to move if you think about it. What sense does it make for a child to donate their life so the parents won't have to move?

We do need to do what makes sense. If we can do it, then fine. But if we can't, then we have every right to say no and to look at other options.

My mother has told me that I owe her on a few occasions. However, my parents never cared for their own parents. Both of my parents were busy with their own lives, so weren't able to help with their parents' care. So really, telling me that I owe them doesn't mean anything to me, since I know they didn't feel they owed their parents. I don't feel I owe my mother. She was actually not a good mother. She does need help, though, and me being here makes sense. That could change soon, though, because her needs may be more than I can provide. That is going to be a very difficult day when it does happen, since she doesn't want to leave her home.
Wow! Some great thoughts here on the subject. It appears I'm not the only one pondering this question. Since I posted the discussion I should be clear about my situation. My parents are not full bore pressuring me to live with them at this point but as they decline mentally I'm starting to hear hints about it. It's a scary thing when you begin to realise that you can't care for yourself much longer. I have been very clear with my folks. They are not moving in with me and my wife and I'm not moving 600 miles to my boyhood home to live with them. I've approached the issue diplomatically and they both agree ( for now anyway) they don't want to be a burden. I am doing everthing possible to see that they are cared for in their home and will continue to do so when they go to assited living and/or memory care. Honestly, I never felt the least bit guilty about my care method until I began reading this site a while back and saw all the stories about people who give up everything, move in with the elders, move the elders in with them, move across the country etc. so I'm thinking am I a bad son for not doing all this? But after all the horror stories, I'm all better now . No guilt. I'm sticking with plan A.
Windyridge - You're not a bad son, not at all. I will say, though, that you're very lucky that you're married, and that your folks still are. If you were single, there would be a lot more pressure on you to relocate. If you had only one surviving parent, there would be a lot more pressure to take him/her in. You're also lucky that they have the resources to be taken care of in their home without you there. It is difficult when the parent has no funds but needs help. Then one (or more) of the adult children is invariably roped in to meeting the parent's needs.

It is much easier not to become the hands-on caregiver (or chore fairy, as in my case) if the parent has other options. And much easier not to feel guilty about declining to help if it doesn't fit into your plans.
I remember back when I grumbled to a co-worker about driving my parents everywhere.... she, of course, said for me to remember how much driving my parents did for me when I was a child.... I quickly needed a come back to that and said "well, yes, but my parents weren't in their mid-60's when I was a child, big difference".

My Dad uses the guilt trip when he can't get me to drive him to Home Depot so he can roam the aisles for two hours and when check-out comes all he has is a light bulb in his cart. In the mean time, I am thinking I could have done two loads of wash... this trip is costing me time.

I honestly believe our parents still see us as "children" in our 20's who have a lot of energy and can go for 24 hours a day. We have seniors taking care of seniors. I believe my generation will not see our 80's and 90's because of stress related health issues... boy, I have some dozes.

You know, freqflyer, I don't believe my parents did nearly as much driving for me as I am now doing for my mother. I didn't demand to go to two different grocery stores each week, the library at least once a week, haircut appointments, stop for prescriptions, take-out food, plus numerous doctors' appointments. When I was a kid, my mother didn't even have a car. My father took the family car to work each day.

We were not chauffeured around the way it seems some kids are these days. We walked to school and to our friends' houses, and went shopping with our parents once in a while at their convenience. My parents took us to church each Sunday, and for family outings once or twice a month. That's it. I remember driving in my friends' parents cars at least as often as my own parents. That's the way it was back then.
If every child turned around and gave up their life and family to take care of elders, how would the human race go on? Maybe it is just this generation, where so many elders are ill and incapable but receiving enough medical care to keep them going; but we are in a bad spot if every one of us who has built a family and a career or life work must give it all up and have it all come to nothing at some point or else be labeled selfish and ungrateful. Human life is meant to be a pay-it-forward deal. Don't get me wrong - we all need to provide for our parents when they are in need, but where does the expectation come from that you must do it all yourself no matter what it costs you or anyone else?

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