I'm caring for my parents, but childhood wounds are still there.


How do you walk the line between feeling responsible to your elderly parents, but feeling some resentment about childhood wounds? I feel like my parents don't deserve the amount of effort I've given them, and as their conditions decline I am unsure how much more I am willing to do.
To be clear, I wasn't mistreated. I always knew I was loved. They gave me everything I needed, paid for my college, and if I asked for $10 and it was the only money they had they would give it to me. It's more like emotional wounds that didn't heal - I got older and outgrew some of the stuff that was said to me.
I was a shy kid and mom was a social butterfly as was my sister. The two of them were best friends and I was their audience. Between ages 8-16, mom frequently told me to be more like the outgoing neighbor kids, told me I was a "zero and nobody would ever like me if I didn't change", and always told me to "just deal with" whatever decisions were made on sister's behalf that had negative impacts on me. Things like my sister wanted to go on vacation involving a 12 hour car ride, but I have terrible motion sickness. Didn't matter since they could pull the car over for me throw up. When I did, mom seemed disgusted. Mom even used to tell me she didn't have to like me to love me. Dad never engaged in this, but never spoke up for me.
I started talking back to her, but she would just walk away. Eventually, I got my driver's license and left the house often. When I went away to college, I guess she could tolerate me when I only came home on holidays because the negative dialog stopped from that point on.
Mom has dementia now. She and dad are getting by OK, but not great. I've delivered meals, groceries, provided lawn care, and attended dr. appts with them. I know they would like more of my time and attention, but do I have to?

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Please do not invest your time or your emotional stability in caring for them. Your mother sounds like my mother and due to unforeseen circumstances, she lives a few doors down from me and I am her sole caretaker. She is 92 yrs old and legally blind. I have been caring for her for almost 7 yrs now and it is pure hell for me. We never got along and still don’t to this day. I recently called in volunteers to take her on outings because when we are together we are like two explosive bombs. My health is out the window! Call in the Calvary if you have to, but don’t get involved. You owe her nothing. Words are so important and her words stung. Comparing you to others is the sign of a narcissistic person. My mother did this constantly. For your sake, let someone else care for her. Don’t give another minute of your time.

This thread has been fascinating. My parents weren’t abusive, so we did all we could out of love. My in-laws, on the other hand, were & still are abusive. Every single one of their kids said they have no happy memories growing up. Yes, even the favored daughters.  I am still shocked when I think of it. Try as I might, I just can’t truly understand it. Reading to my husband these responses has given him some comfort that he is not alone. And has helped open my eyes.

Hugs to all of you.

Dear GingerMay,

I really sympathize and empathize with you. I know its hard. I was in the same situation with my siblings. Your parents are lucky to have you in their corner. But always know if things are getting to be too much there are options.

I was a desperate pleaser. I never knew how to say no to people. I tried and tried for my dad, but he never even told me thank you for anything. If you can, maybe tell your mom and dad how you feel. Really have a heart to heart even with your sister. I know its not easy.

Thinking of you.

No, you’re doing plenty for them. You’ve got a sister, remember?

Ginger May:

As POA you have the power to use ALL YOUR PARENT'S money for their care.

You will not be doing anything wrong, if you do spend the money for their care.

It is your decision to accept POA. You have the right to refuse it, if it causes you problems.

If you continue with POA, keep records of all your expenditures otherwise your sister can make waves, and ask for an accounting, if and when they die.

As for "honor thy mother and father."

As, I have prior stated, their are religious doctrines in almost all known religions that state clearly that in cases where a parent is or has been abusive to their own child, that child has no obligation to follow any commandment to "honor the parents"

The parents are also commanded, in religious texts, to take care of all their children equally and properly.

If they do not, they lose the right to honored by the children they have abused.

Sometimes in dysfunctional families only one child is targeted for abuse, while the other children are treated well.

The reason for that can include, looking like an in-law or relative they do not like, being more attractive than the parent, etc..

Please do not let anyone guilt you into taking responsibilities you do not want by beating you over the head with obligations that do not apply to abusive parents.

If someone wants to take care of an abusive parent, this is their decision and their right, but if they insist someone else who has been abused MUST do so, this is another form of abuse.

Thanks all for your very intelligent replies. You are more help than you can know.
As for my sister, she doesn't think mom and dad have any problems aside from normal aging. I work full time, she doesn't. Her three kids are aged 27-18. They are independent, but she never finds time to stop by our parent's house to visit or give dad an hour off to go walk around the block. I questioned her about this, but she said "Mom and dad wouldn't want me to ruin my life to help them". She just shrugged when I suggested spending 1-2 hours with them occasionally shouldn't ruin her life.
My sister is a bully. Attempts at rational conversations go nowhere. I used to rarely talk to her, but six months ago I went no-contact. I have no plans to involve her with anything I do.
My parents' finances will allow them to pay for ALF. They gave me financial POA to pay their bills should my dad become unable to. However, dear sister is the Executor of their Will and the Trustee Successor of their estate.... they think she is great.

Ikdrymom, well said & done! You are honoring your dad by making sure he is cared for, honoring yourself/family, and keeping the boundaries you set so you can continue.

You have figured out & live the correct meaning of honor. You are my hero!

I can completely relate to your situation. I was certainly provided for as a child but my father LOVED his brother's children and I was a distant second to all of them. My feelings didn't matter. My thought were silly. I was too sensitive when they all teased me. Everyone came before me and that leaves a lasting impression. Now he is 91 and has no one but me. I see that his NEEDS are met but I certainly push back on the WANTS. I set firm boundaries which make me look like a cold heart-ed witch to most people. I have no trouble telling the AL or social workers NO I can't do that. I am willing to do some things...on my terms, but I am not jumping for his every whim which he would love. My obligation is to see that he is in a safe place being cared for. That obligation does not mean I have to be the one caring for him.

Dear Ginger Way. Nothing that you do it's “I HAVE TO" NO, just like your sister who has chosen not to get involved with the care of your parents. Everything that you're doing it's a choice that you make. You aren't obligated to do anything. But there is the moral compass regarding of religion or personal experiences that we sometimes choose to follow, putting a side all of our sorrows to do what we need to do. You're doing your very best under your moral and emotional circumstances. I applaud you for that!!
What I suggest that you should do first if you can talk with your sister, It’ll be the start.
Address the fact that the time has come when one of you has to be legally responsible for them. If she agrees to do it, welcome her decision. If she refuses to do anything to help than, count her out of the picture and if you wish it, have your parents give you a DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY where voluntarily can grant you the power to make all the decisions for them. Have the DPOA signed in front of a Notary Public that will make the DPOA legal and if you can have it also signed by a Lawyer to make it more enforcing. The lawyer's signature will cost you a bigger fee than just a licensed State Notary Public - They can't charge you a lot... I'm a Notary Public - The banks have one but they wouldn't sing this type of legal papers.. It has to be a Notary that has a special license to do it. I found one in the Internet, Maryland Mobile Notary Public who was able to come to my house to help signed all the documents need it to help my elderly friends, like the Advance Directive and the Last Will and Testament.
After being granted the DPOA find out their financial status, how much assets they have, if they house is paid in full. Gather all this type of information.
Once you know where your parents stand financially... than you can start making the decisions that will easy the emotional and physical burden you're carrying.
If your parents are financially established, use all that money for their care. You'll start looking for ways to help them. One of them it to find a place where they can be provide and cared.
There are many ways but the easiest is to search in google under retirement homes with assisted living. There are a lot of just Retirement homes for the elderly but few of them offer ASSISTED LIVING. You want with assisted living so your parents can be cared according to their personal needs. I've done that for my friends. (They have no one who can be responsible for them.)
Most of the retirement homes have an agent who represents them. You'll see that as soon as you turn on your pc. you' will have many of them advertising their services, you may be able to choose one that will suite your parent’s needs. I was lucky to have found a lovely lady (I never met her, It was her voice that prompt me to feel secure and felt that she grasped what I wanted and knew exactly what to do...) She helped me to pick a very affordable retirement home with assisted living in Laurel Maryland. Most are very expensive.
Most of the agents will try very hard to help you. They don't ask you to pay a cent for this service. I believe it's the retirement home that pays them a small commission. I really don’t know for sure.
Stand firm, hold on to what you’re looking before you’ll make any decision. Don't give any monies ahead. The real representatives wouldn't ask for it. As soon you hear one asking for a deposit, hang up the phone and don't regret it.
Once you settled with an agent, she'll take the first step by referring you to the retirement home with assisted living that you think you may like, if there is a lot more that you have chosen, she'll do the same. She sent me 13 references. My choice was in Laurel Maryland. Very affordable, lovely place, personal attention is great, they offer 3 meals a day, snacks, drinks during the day, entertainment, health services etc. etc. The special assisted care starts gradually as the elderly patient needs this type of special care. Ask from the beginning about the minimum and the maximum that’ll be added to the regular bill. You have to consider that the price of living in the retirement home is separate from the assisted living services. Most of the homes you’ll get refer too will send you the basic information either in an email or the post office. Someone – a costumer representative may call you or even the director of the center and they will take the time to talk with you in detail. They make it easy for you to compare since most of the homes follow the same protocol. I was helped to choose one with the very best in price and overall for the money we're paying. My friends are delighted. (They are a couple, he’s 90 with the onset of Alzheimer’s and his wife is 85 with acute Parkinson’s decease. They lived in their home, lost, alone, hungry, angry at their situation feeling abandoned. It’s a pleasure to see them now very happy and cared for.
Perhaps you can do the same as I suggested. After the agent makes the first contact with the retirement home that you have chosen that you may believe it's best suitable to your parents needs than they'll ask you to go in person to talk to them and see their facilities, show you the rooms, apartments, suites, etc. for you to pick and choose what you may like it or not. Take your parents with you and if they like the feel of it than along with them help them to make the right choice.
Once it's all set and done since you'll be having the DPOA you can start making the arrangements to have your parents move into a retirement home that you all have chosen. Always be kind on the phone. Always keep on alert and fallow your sixth sense (Woman, we all have it).
If they have their house, sell it and add to the rest of the money they have... Having the DPOA makes it a lot easier to decide where and how your parent's money can be spent. Set up automatic payments for the bigger bills. Have all their health insurances lined up and organized yourself so it wouldn’t become a burden to you.
Once you are done setting your parents in a retirement home with assisted living. I'm quite certain you wouldn't feel as bad as you're feeling now. To the contrary, you will start feeling proud of yourself and what you have achieved. You will see that have won over the emotional battle you fought your entire childhood... and if you're religious, you’ll have honored one of the Ten Commandments that it says HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER regardless of how they were to you as a child.
If your parents don't have the resources not the money need it, not the extra in savings or otherwise but only their Social Security pension than you have an easy choice. Call the Elderly Protection agency thru the Social Services, they'll tell you exactly what to do.
Social Services will take over your responsibilities and they'll have probably your parents moved into a retirement home with assisted living sponsored by the State. Social Services wouldn't take any responsibilities unless your parents are penniless and don't have any savings at all.
To help be able to help my very elderly friends I had to learn a lot on how to jump all the hoops and follow all the steps it was required it to get the help need it . I was very lucky to have found many people willing to help. Bless are all these people who can guide and help to resolve whatever comes onto our paths.
Keep your head up, be proud of yourself, be positive and things are going to be much easier for you You will see. I wish you the best of luck.

There's lots of good advice here. I have a suggestion for untangling the web of family ties that is free (unlike therapists) and that is CoDependants Anonymous, a 12-Step program. The other is the transition between holding on to their home and moving to assisted living or another facility. If they understand that all the stuff the family does for them will stop and they will either have to do it themselves or move into a place that will do it all for them, the choice starts to seem more sensible. If the elder person has the money, use it to care for them in a way that makes most sense for your life. Good luck.

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