As Parents we inevitably worry about our own children. So, as adult children should we worry about our own aging parents? It is natural for parents to worry about their children. Mother Nature has a way of making sure of this. It has always been and probably always will be.
Worry seemed to come naturally when our children were younger. But what happens when the small children grow up and become adult children? The worry of when they were young turns from worry into concern. Worrying was a result of thinking we could control outcomes of our children’s decisions or situations and sometimes we could.
Fast forward and now as parents of our own adult children, we realize they are making their own choices and decisions (at least hopefully). As our children were growing into adults, as their parents, we also were maturing and realized it would do no good to worry and that we had to trust we had raised our children to be self-reliant and make good choices.
With the arrival of my own first grandchild, due in January, I have been thinking a lot about my own two adult, married children. I mentioned they are both married because I also now include their wives as my children…thus, my concern is extended to them, as well.
Let’s turn the page and now read this blog from the viewpoint of us being the adult children who have parents who are advanced in their own aging journey. Difficult situations with parents may make us forget they once were our parents who WORRIED about us. We get caught up in our own lives and forget how it was when we were younger where it seemed every move we made, our parents were right there. Now, the roles have changed and we are the ones who are concerned, or at least should be, about our own aging parents. We watch our parents age but we still do not see them as individuals that we should be concerned for. We continue to see them as our “parents.” Then, one day it hits us. It’s as if it happens overnight and we realize we are the ones who should be concerned about them. We wonder if they are eating correctly, we wonder if they have friends. We ask ourselves if they will be financially okay, are they well, will they be able to stay in their home. All these questions begin to fill our mind.
Or do they?
Sadly, there are adult children who never let these thoughts of concern for their parents enter their minds. One reason may be, like the saying, “out of sight, out of mind” may apply. The parental/child relationship may have a history of brokeness, so the adult child fills their own life with so much activity they cannot possibly make time to be concerned about a parent who turned their back on them. Another reason is, as adult children, we are self absorbed. It is sad that if these adult children have children of their own, they cannot think about how they would feel if the tables were turned…and they will be one day. The adult children cannot fathom a time when they would never think about their own child, even when they grow into adults. Surprise, that is exactly how your parents feel about you, even still today.
If you are an adult child and are fortunate to have a parent who is alive, why not think about who this parent is as a person. Life may have not been perfect with them. Your parent may have made some decisions that you wished would have been different that affected you. But that is what makes you who you are, and your life is your story.
Why punish your parent? Do you know that showing concern and caring for your aging parent is one of the greatest acts of kindness? They need and want to stay connected to you just like you will always need and want to stay connected to your own children. I know you get this….you are a Mom. But remember, we only get one shot at these relationships. How do you want your children to see your relationship with your aging parent played out?