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Care Of Old Parents In Dysfunctional Families

Discussion in 'Parents & Siblings' started by Rihana, Jan 29, 2019.

  1. Rihana

    Rihana Finest Post Winner

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    Using the term 'dysfunctional' loosely and in the Indian context. Could mean one or more of the following:

    - overly strict, borderline abusive mother or father
    - sent to live with grandparents and grow up to resent that choice of parents
    - one parent or both parents heavily favoring one child over another (partiality)
    - forcing daughter to get married early, not letting her study further
    - forcing sons to spend on sisters long after the daughters are married off
    - excessive and unrelenting interference in adult child's married life
    - not really ever accepting child's spouse
    - maintaining distance from grandkids, favoring one grandkid over another
    - one parent with serious issues like drinking, gambling that ruined children's childhood
    - expecting and forcing better settled child to help poorer siblings lifelong
    - never happy with the physical and financial support adult children can provide
    - giving away money to relatives when own family suffering, even past 65-70 age

    In such families, what is the responsibility or obligation of the grown children to take care of old parents? Is it different from that of children in more regular families?

    If the dysfunction was serious enough, can the child completely ignore his/her duty to take care of old parents?

    Or, is it like this: Family was dysfunctional but still the child had a home, had food, shelter, clothing and education, grew up to be a normal, functioning adult. Should be thankful for that. And take care of parents like other people do?
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2019
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  2. Rihana

    Rihana Finest Post Winner

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    A neighbor and friend from childhood, a few years my senior, with two sons in college/almost graduated, recently went solo to India. Had lot of quality time over three weeks to rehash many things with parents and two brothers. She was married off at 17, after 12th grade, and studied after marriage with help from in-laws and using correspondence courses. She and her husband came to the U.S. late in life, and have done well. Harsh childhood, unhappy home atmosphere, everyone including uncles, aunts, grandparents favoring the boys. Parents never forgave her for doing better in life than the mostly good for nothing sons.

    She came back heartbroken after this visit. Her husband, I and my sister have tried to tell her to put some distance and protect herself, to no avail. Her older son and one cousin also tried to talk some sense into her. Not happening.

    Looks like her parents expect more money from her, more visits, and blame her for their sons' failures in lives.
     
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  3. shravs3

    shravs3 IL Hall of Fame

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    @Rihana you just read my mind. Afternoon I was also thinking about the same topic.
    But I still wonder why do they blame your friend for their son's failure?

    Anyways taking care of parents is our duty but due to all the above mentioned reasons, either the kids are not willing to take care of the parents or the child is willing to take care but parents prefer other kids due to many other reasons like place of living, comfort and so on. Some people help their parents monetarily every month even if they are staying in other kids place.

    But what if the parents have only child? But due to some reasons he/she may not be able to take care since they stay far apart from each other.He may help monetarily but would not be able to get parents permanently to his place. I am sure the society would blame the child for not taking care of old parents inspite of being the only child.
    Some parents even force such kids to come back to their home, since there is no one to take care of them. Are the parents being selfish for neglecting the childs career/ future or is the child selfish since he/she prefers career or their own kids future over parents? Who is right and who is wrong in such situation?
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2019
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  4. poovai

    poovai Platinum IL'ite

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    Resembles like, she could be my 'twin sister'; Sounds very familiar, an imaginary thread is still held by my mom to threaten me, emotional black mail?

    Hopefully, she will recover soon.
     
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  5. GeetaKashyap

    GeetaKashyap IL Hall of Fame

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    This is a common issue in most families; children, even at the age of 60-70 continue to harbour some pains they experienced while growing up. No amount of knowledge or maturity helps when the old wounds are scratched during family reunions.

    Many parents even in 80s and 90s continue to have irrational expectations and pass judgements. Parents continue to defend themselves that they never did anything wrong even when their children (past middle age!) produce evidence. Perhaps an honest admission of possible omissions on their part could heal many wounds and relationships. Forgiveness is another virtue most people preach but find it difficult to follow. I wonder how many of us can really break this cycle!

    I think everyone should be magnanimous and care for the weaker party/parents. Maybe while maintaining some emotional distance, one could continue to support old parents (as far as possible) financially and physically. They may simply do their 'duty' to keep their conscience clear.

    I feel sorry for your friend. As long as her conscience is clear, she should invest her emotions elsewhere, do her 'duty' and move on without further expectations.
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2019
  6. armummy

    armummy Platinum IL'ite

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    I think children should take care of parents in their time of need unless you can totally detach yourself and can watch your parents struggle.

    I think in Your friends case she should count her blessings if she is happy with her married life, they got her married and sent her out of unhappy maternal home. Things could have been different and worse. She should help if she can to keep her conscience clear.
     
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  7. Rihana

    Rihana Finest Post Winner

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    I don't know. I guess to see a child struggle in life robs a parent of logical thought? Maybe they don't even really blame her. Often such family discussions and interactions are like reruns of tv serials. Same topics get repeated. Each one keeps repeating their grievances.
     
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  8. DDream

    DDream Platinum IL'ite

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    As they dont value her, I don't think even if she help them, they will appreciate it much. The demands will keep on increasing. Its better to protect her than making her available for more torture. She is blessed to have a happy married life. If she wants to help, do it within her limits. It's better to limit phone calls, share any photos in social media etc.. as it can elevate jealousy in her siblings, limit her visit to her parents, do it only as family, not alone. If she is employed, she can help. If not how can she help them. She needs to request her husband.

    Just do her duty as a daughter, help as much as she can,develop a deaf ear to other demands and dont expect anything back. Accept her situation very well and emotionally detaching from them may help. I dont understand why her parents blame her for their sons failure. There is no logic there. It look like they dont want her to enjoy her life while their sons struggle. Its totally unacceptable. What a double standard. Just dont care even a bit about these kind of talk. Feeling sorry for her.
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2019
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  9. Sunshine04

    Sunshine04 Platinum IL'ite

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    Cruel. She should mentally stay away from them .its her decision whether to send money or not.
     
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  10. armummy

    armummy Platinum IL'ite

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    As children we have so many grudges over parents not acting according to what we think is correct.

    It is same with parents , they are also human , they have expectations from children and if they see children not caring enough according to them resentments will come up.

    If we Are in a position to take care of them , I believe that should be done ,I believe that will heal both. In most NRI cases it comes down to monetary care not physical care.

    When married daughters don’t get involved in care of parents for whatever reasons ,some where the norm of giving preference to male child is proven correct because ultimately it falls on male child to bear the burden of care.
     
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