As Seen Through the Eyes of Love
By Paula Erwin-Toth
When I look at my lovely daughter, who is now a grown woman with children of her own, I cannot help but see her as my little one racing around the house with her daddy’s curly hair and my goofy sense of humor. Your parents will always see you as their little one, no matter how old you are.
This can become difficult the moment you become their caregiver. How do you “parent a parent?” Well, the short answer is, you don’t. Finding a new dynamic for your relationship with your mom or dad is essential in helping both of you find a new balance in your lives. It is important to avoid making this a power struggle – it will be a struggle in which no one wins and everyone loses.
When the Roles Have Changed
No matter your age or ability, having a sense of control over yourself and your circumstances is important. It is doubly unsettling if the person sensing a lack of control is your parent. They gave you life, changed your diaper, got you through potty-training, helped you as you learned to walk, run, and eventually fly out of the nest. They provided you with guidance, support, and a safety net to catch you in case you stumbled along the way. The parent who always looked so strong, assured and invincible now appears older and frail. It is at the very least unsettling and at most frightening.
It can be frightening for your mom or dad as well. They can feel like they’re losing their dignity and their self-esteem now that they’re losing their independence and having someone else not only make many decisions for them, but also provide personal, intimate care several times a day. In many ways this can be more difficult to cope with when that someone is their own child. Be sure to sit down with them. Map out plans and options together that work for both of you. It may be helpful to do this with a professional who can be a neutral party and help you and your parent navigate through these unfamiliar waters.
Remember, even if you live to be 100 years old and your mom or dad is 120, they will always see you as their baby.