Have your parents attempted to manipulate you as a caregiver using their own spin on Christian teaching? - AgingCare.com

Have your parents attempted to manipulate you as a caregiver using their own spin on Christian teaching?

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I read of various ways some parents attempt to manipulate or actually do manipulate their adult children as their caregivers with their own spin on Christian teaching which sounds so biblical, but is not. How have you responded or gotten your freedom from such false teaching without dumping Christianity as a whole?

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Here are some Bible verses that get misused as cobbler verses. There may be others. Please share them if I missed that one.

1. "Honor your father and mother." Exodus 20:12. It is the 5th of the 10 Commandments. It is the first Commandment with a promise. It is repeated in the NT in Ephesians 6:2.

The question then is how is this verse interpreted and how do we apply its meaning to us today.

What does it mean to honor your father and mother is a good question to Google.

2. "Children obey your parents" is found in Ephesians 6:1 and in Colossians 3:20 While this is not directly stated in the Old Testament, there was the expectation that children would obey their parents.

Matthew 2:1-2 tells us that Jesus was a young child in Joseph and Mary's house in Bethlehem when the wise men visited. Since king Herod had all of the children in Bethlehem 2 and younger killed, there is a high probability that Jesus was around two years old at this time. See Matthew 2:16 and it says that king Herod killed all of the young male children who were two years and younger in keeping with the time he had learned from the wise men.

The Gospel of Luke gives us the details of Jesus' birth in chapter 2 verses 4-7. It says that he was born in a manger. Verses 8-20 tell us about the shepherds vising Joseph, Mary and the baby Jesus that night. Verse 21 of chapter 2 tells us that Jesus was circumcised on the eighth day of his life.

The New Testament was written originally in Konie (common) Greek. It had separate words that were translated child, men and women. The word for child and its plural children meant exactly that children. The word for a man or for men was for adult men. The word for a woman or women was for adult women. Thus, when the Bible says "Children obey your parents" it is talking about children not adults.

By the way Ephesians 6:4 says for fathers not to exasperate their children.by the way you treat them. What that means and how it can be applied is another good Google search.

Elderly parents who still view their adult children as young children will use these verses to guilt their adult child into obeying them although the Bible does not say for adult children to obey their parents.

3. "Honor widows who are truly widows. But if a widow has children or grandchildren let them first show godliness to their own household and make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in God's sight....But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his own household, then he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever." I Timothy 5:3-4, and verse 8.

These verses require a lot of unpacking and don't simply mean that you must take an older parent or grandparent who is a widow into your house or that you move into theirs.

Nor does it say to sacrifice providing for your immediate family.

The verses about how older widows are expected to live as well as older women and older men does not say anything about them demanding a commitment from an adult child above their commitment to their own marriage and children thus not breaking Genesis 2:24 which Jesus repeats in Matthew 19:5.

That maintains the balance between leaving & cleaving in marriage with honoring one's elderly parents. The spouse to spouse relationship remains primary. However, when the spouse who is the adult child view their relationship with their elderly parent this disturbs the biblical balance and threatens to undo the marriage.

Leaving and cleaving does not mean that one abandons their parents by ignoring them or not spending time with them. It means one has moved emotionally form the parent child relationship being primary to the spouse to spouse relationship being primary.

Verse 3 of chapter five speaks of honoring or supporting those widows who don't have any relatives.

This verse and others lay out three qualifications for a widow to receive help form the church,

1.) Have no family to care for them vs three; (That is not the case of widows who don't have any family to care for them.)

2.) Posses certain spiritual qualities vs 5 puts their trust in God and is a person of prayer, but not one who lives for selfish worldly pleasure vs six. Plus, they have been faithful to their husband and is known for her good deeds verses nine and ten; Paul's epistle to Titus outlines the early churches expectations for how older women were to live. chapter 2:3-5, i.e. reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips, not addicted to much wine, teaching what is good in order to encourage young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home and kind. (Some elderly widows would not pass this list.)

3) must be of a certain age that is over 60 verse nine. (Most people back then died in their 60t's. Very few lived into their 70s and 80s like they do today. So this meant that she did not have many years to live.)

Younger widows are not to be put on the church's list for support, but encouraged to marry, have children and to manage their homes verses 11-15. (This is tough to apply because after a certain age women can no longer have children. So he must mean very young widows.)

Verse 16 concludes this train of thought with advice to women who has widows in her care to keep caring for them so that the church can care for widows who have no one.

One verse that I think needs to be included in this is II Corinthians 12:14 "children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children.". (I don't thinks this means that the parents are to save up everything for their children's inheritance while neglecting their own retirement and old age care needs. Neither do I think it means the children are to save up while they are working to pay for their parent's retirement.

Also, James 1:27 speaks of taking care of widows.

Also, in the Old Testament there is expressed concern for widows in Exodus 22:22 and in other places.

There is concern for the widow who is all alone because in Old Testament and New Testament days, when a woman lost her husband there was hardly any way for her to support herself and back then everyone go married. However, women are in the working world today and can often find ways to support themselves if their husband dies and sometimes they benefit from the husband's pension and other money as well.

Nothing is said in the NT about widowers because evidently there was not a need to. But Paul's epistle to Titus 2:2 does have a few things to say to older men. They are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, sound in love and sound in steadfastness.

The NT does say a few things about the treatment of older people I Timothy 5:1 says to not speak harshly to an older man, but appeal to him respectfully as you would to your own father. I Timothy 5:2 says to treat older women as you would your mother.

Basically, the NT speaks about the church seeking to take care of widows over 60 who have no adult children or adult grandchildren. There are church based nursing homes but sometimes they are more expensive than the regular nursing homes. It should not be that was.

The NT also speaks of adult children and/or adult grandchildren taking care of their elderly widowed parents, but it does not say how we are to apply this to our context for today. That we must thoughtfully and prayerfully work out in a balanced manner that is faithful to the text about taking care for our elderly parents which in today's world would also include elderly dads and granddads, without breaking other scripture about taking care of our own household and keeping the marital relationship primary. Those things sort of set the boundaries for us to operate within, but how that is worked out in each individual case because each has its own unique application for that situation in terms of the present and long terms needs and plans.

This is a very long way of saying that parents and grandparents can't rightfully just slap these verses from I Timothy chapter 5 in your face and say they absolutely mean take care of me forever in my house or yours and I don't care if I develop dementia or health needs that are beyond your ability to care for I want you to promise me that you will sacrifice everything to keep me out of assisted living, a memory care unit or a regular nursing home. That in light of other scripture and biblical principles just does not hold such a rigid interpretation or application.

So, this is my lengthy essay on the three cobbler verses that certain dysfunctional or somehow misled or wrongly taught parents try to control and manipulate their adult children with.
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I was recently at a lecture and talk back that Roz Chast ( New Yorker cartoonist and author of a recent book about caring for her elderly, demented parents). Chast is Jewish and this talk was at a major theological seminary that trains Rabbis. The Rabbi who was leading the discussion said that in arranging her parents' care ( moving them from Brooklyn to an AL near her in the suburbs, cleaning out their apartment, seeing to their medical needs) she had behaved in a way that was completely in keeping with the Rabbinical and Talmud interpretation of the commandment to honor one's parents. There is apparently an admonition in the Talmud that instructs one to care for one's parents indirectly if they are deranged or otherwise endangering one's family's welfare.
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Well done, cmag

I have had the "Honor your father and mother" thrown at me quite often The bible also says not to provoke your children. Honouring does not mean accepting abuse. I like the Talmud instruction to arrange for indirect care is the parent is deranged or destructive. This is essentially what another Christian discourse on this subject that I read said.

Yes, cmag there are boundaries within which we should operate.
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I like "a man shall leave his parents and cleave to his wife" the best. Some dysfunctional and oftentimes narcissistic parents clobber their adult child over the head with scripture about honor your father and mother that this gets all turned around into an emotional message of "you shall leave your spouse when they get elderly and are in need, cleaving to them until death do you part." I once overheard an elderly woman tell her adult child it was time for her to leave her husband and come look after her.
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cmagnum that took a great deal of research unless you have a theological education
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To answer your title question, "Have your parents attempted to manipulate you as a caregiver using their own spin on Christian teaching?" No. Neither parent ever used any aspect of religion to manipulate any of us 7 kids. Not that it would have done them much good. We aren't easy to manipulate. I can imagine myself saying, "That is an interesting way to think of it. It isn't part of my belief system, though."

I've just gone through in my mind a list of five people over the age of 75 that I know well enough to answer this about. One is a minister's daughter and remained active in the church all her life. One has a doctorate in theology and is ordained. One was a member of a mainstream church. One rejected the church. The other was just not interested in religion one way or the other. None of them ever tried using religion to manipulate their children or other caregivers.

I sympathize with those of you who have to deal with any kind of manipulation, especially of the religious variety.

It is not universal. It is not sanctioned by any mainstream church. It is no more valid than any other kind of self-serving devious behavior.
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Veronica, all religious abuse is about fear of loosing control regardless where it comes from. Some of these manipulative parents are either misled by their religious leadership or by their own parents or are just plain ignorant of the Bible while others have a personality disorder and find religion to be an effective weapon for control.

Book, I am sorry that your religious organization did not unpack what it means for honor ones parents, but instead just beat you over the head with a verse without any interpretation or application beyond their own narrow view.

The verse from I Timothy 5:8 in its broader context says to provide for a widowed relative and for their own household, but it does not say exactly how to do that. In society back then, everyone got married and if a woman lost her husband, she was totally lost. Thus, the early Christians were encouraged to take care of their widowed parents and grandparents. so that the Church could help those widows who did not have any family at all, were old enough to be on the widow list and met other qualifications. How many parents and grandparents would meet that list. It is interesting to me that no mention is made of widowed men, dads nor granddads. I think one missed application of this verse to me is that if you sacrifice providing for your immediate family in seeking to help out a widowed mom or grandmother, then you have not done the right thing. There must be some searching for ways to make sure your own immediate family is taken care of as well as widowed mom or grandmother. This is one reason among others that I am not in favor of people sacrificing their entire career, their marriage, the well being of their own immediate family because it is not the right thing to do. No healthy parent would expect an adult child to sacrifice themselves and self-destruct as some do.

James 2:17 has a valid point about faith without works or how you life is dead. But that does not mean if you don't personally do the caregiving for your parents or grandparents that your faith is dead. Just because you don't personally do the caregiving or don't do all of the caregiving does not mean someone has turned their back on God. That's toxic thinking!

For example, my mother insisted that she stay in her house with my step-dad who was then and is now in a wheel chair with a helper. Around that same time, my wife had a major health crisis and went on disability and my own health failed and I went on disability.

Our children were still in school and we found ourselves in a situation where we had to find a new place to live. We chose to stay in the area so that the boys could continue to attend school here and so my wife could continue with her medical team that was very helpful.

My mother would have liked for us to have moved up there, but we were not in any position too. Long story short, she had a stroke, went to rehab, regained the ability to walk with a walker, but things did not go well when she went back home and she ended up in assisted living where her doctor's had been trying to get her to move to.

Then, she ends up falling and breaking her hip and after surgery is sent to rehab but her dementia was so bad at that point that she could not stay focused on PT and never walked again, plus ended up dying 4 years later from a stroke at age 82.

Although never telling me about it, she did make a very wise decision when she bought long term care insurance and put the premiums on auto draft from her personal checking account that she had made me joint owner of with right of survivorship. I just happened to find that policy in a dresser drawer one day. She had enough money in her personal accounts to make up the difference for her care that the long term care insurance did not cover with money left over in her personal accounts without touching her investments which she inherited form her mom.

I did what I could for her as her son, her durable and medical POA, but I also had a wife and children to tend to plus my own health needs.

Somewhere in all of this my dad's health was declining as my step-mom was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis with very few years left to live. Seeing that I had my hands full, my dad changed my medical and durable POA from myself to my step-sister who lives near him which is several states away from me.

I've visited, my family has visited and my step-sister and I have kept in touch. His long term care policy is helping pay for 24/7 care from three caregivers working n 8 hour shift each. Although he had said before his wife died in May that he would move to assisted living after her death, he changed his mind and as long as it is workable, and the money holds out for him at 89 that is what we are going to do.

He was diagnosed with Alzheimer's within the last two years and had gone down hill drastically since his wife died whom he asks every night to come and get him. That is very sad because honestly and her daughter will tell you this too, she did not treat him well at all but he treated her like a queen. My step-sister since her mom's death has apologized to me for how her mother treated me for over 30 years. Last fall, he was diagnosed with Parkinson's. It now appears that my dad has in many ways given up, but he has super caregivers around the clock who are very good to him and for him. Sometimes people will take him out to eat which he loves. When my step-sister has a question, I research or ask a question for her and send her the information.

I am very sorry that your religious organization basically threatened you with eternal damnation and being worse than an unbeliever if you didn't honor your parents, provide for your own and put your faith into action according to their narrow interpretation and application apart from considering other biblical teaching as well which must be brought in as a whole for otherwise one is just picking and choosing however one wants to without looking at the context of the whole thing.

Thanks for reading my very long, long response. I hope this helped.

BTW, did you have a chance to read my essay in this thread about the cobbler passages that are often used with their own manipulative spin for the sake of control?
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Feelings can be deceptive and emotions can be manipulated into being deceived, but the knowledge of the truth makes one free from the deception either of our own feelings or the manipulation of others.

Standing on what you know is true is solid like a rock. Standing on what you feel is true is like standing on sand which the wind and the rain can blow and wash away.

A battered soul no longer knows what to feel after years of spiritual abuse, manipulation, and deception because it has been forced into feeling various ways. It finds new freedom for its own genuine feelings by coming to know what is true and then building on that truth acts its way into a new way of feeling which is much easier than feeling one's way into a new way of acting.
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Hi all,
May be I should add an Asian Christian's perspective .
From young , we are taught to respect our elders , especially our parents in school as we have moral lessons every week and the same message will be repeated very frequently from the school PA system during morning assemblies. When my turn to be parent, i find it difficult to teach / demand this from my children as I felt I am manipulating them for my own good , which is against my principle as a Christian . However my spiritual eyes were opened a few years ago when I realised the importance to teach them this principle as it is a commandment that carries a consequence in the Lord's 10 commandments - Exodus 20:12 Honour your parents so that your days will be long . The urgency came when I was ( at 3 different occasions) given the same passage and the mission to teach my children this principle become urgent .

Deuteronomy 6 New International Version (NIV)

Love the Lord Your God
6 These are the commands, decrees and laws the Lord your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, 2 so that you, your children and their children after them may fear(A) the Lord your God as long as you live(B) by keeping all his decrees and commands(C) that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life.(D) 3 Hear, Israel, and be careful to obey(E) so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly(F) in a land flowing with milk and honey,(G) just as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, promised(H) you.

4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[a](I) 5 Love(J) the Lord your God with all your heart(K) and with all your soul and with all your strength.(L) 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.(M) 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.(N) 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.(O) 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.(P)

Apart from teaching them, I also pray for them everyday , that they will walk close to the Lord so that they will observe His commandments. Having said that , I do realised that we all have different experience with our parents, some good and some bad. However we do our best to care for them , when they are feeble and old and need us , without subjecting ourselves to depression , guilt , anger and eventually losing our own health and mind. If we are driven to the above negative feeling, it is important to take a step back and get re-charge so that we are equipped to handle the care. Balance is the key word, take stock of the situation and ask ourselves how /what we can contribute, remembering how and what our parents do for us , and just try our best to care for them and love them , when they are old and needed our presence.

Underpinning these is just only one verse , honour your parents, for without them, we won't be in this world.

May the Lord's richest blessings be with you all..
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Brilliant question, and how I needed these heartfelt responses. My folks were not religious, but as first-generation survivors of a brutal exodus from Europe, they bore a lot of unconscious guilt about their own parents. Mom was highly sensitive, intelligent and combative and would cloak her FOGs in “higher order striving,” kind of based on Christian teachings – “There is no god but there is a reason for the Bible and you daughter have failed on every Kohlberg [psychologist] test of moral development.” I was sent to Lutheran school, and took their admonishments to heart, while translating them into “humanistic higher speak” so that I could win Mom’s approval – which never happened and instead built to a dramatic greatness in her death. CMagnum deserves honors for that incredibly researched reply – and asking the question in the first place. With our world reeling from Charlie Hebdo and Pope Francis speaking negatively of “ideological colonialism,” I can’t help but think about how as an increasingly complex and networked human family , we’re going to get beyond mental disease and abuse. I see my Mom’s abuse as an attempt to escape her own mental prisons with a lot of tragic collateral damage, including suicides of her loved ones. Wanting more on this question.
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