When You Become The Parent of your Parents

This must be remembrance season. Someone told me after my mother passed that memories would one-day fill the empty places of my heart. I suppose there is some truth to this reality. I often recall while caring for my mommy, I not once wanted to be her parent; only a loving daughter, giving occasional directives, as I practiced my caregiving responsibility with duty and honor.

Have you ever considered the evolution to the circle of life? The cycle is remarkable. We begin as babies who must be shielded as we developed. As we grow toward adulthood, our parents are our guiding force into the ‘whatever.’ We circle back from time to time for support and shielding when things go left, as they sometimes do. But, can we honestly say we considered a role reversal? We were living life like its golden and raising our family? I honestly never consider the role of becoming the parent of my parents. In our family, I should have paid more attention, thinking back to Aunt Mollie taking care of her mother. That should have been a red flag. Did we ever think if we continued to say good morning and good night, that one day that cycle would equal ageing? It neither here or there. My goal is to offer preparatory nuggets for consideration.

The wakeup call is for the “sandwich generation.” Here is your humble warning. Your parents are aging. Being proactive and paying attention can prepare you to recognize the time to jump in and consider a role of caregiving. As you guide and protect your young, your parents are ageing before your very eyes. Are you prepared to handle their affairs? Avoiding or not acknowledging your role as a probable or potential caregiver of your parents can be a mistake. While your life is in full bloom, think about the realism of parenting your parents. Planning ahead is necessary. Respect boundaries, but obtain key information that will be of benefit if you have to parent your parents.

Finally, remember you! Taking care of self, it is not selfish. Family has many layers in the circle of life. I have heard the saying in relations to growing old…“once an adult, twice a child.” Just as children need parenting, we will age and depend on caregivers( like adult children). This becomes a real possibility. We all will need a caregiver. Your Proactive Caregiver speaks from a lived-experience.

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