Wednesday, April 21, 2010




Ok! Drum roll please, getting up on my soap box finally! I want to present my opinion on a subject that causes me irritation by those of differing opinions! However at the end of this post I will invite those of both views to express their opinions.

The subject is that there are individuals, specifically caregivers, who feel that to use the term “Parenting Your Parent” is offensive and demeaning to our position as caregiver to our parent. I on the other hand, have quite the opposite view on this. So, blow horn up to mouth and here I go!

I have done some research on this to help bolster my already very strong stand on this matter. So, I make this statement loud and clear, that using the term “Parenting My Parent”, is not demeaning or disrespectful in any way! It is a very genuine and even heartfelt statement of the position of being a caregiver to my mom. Period!

The most recent information I have read about this, is what has caused me to decide to get up on my Soap Box and take a definitive stand on the matter. This article was a link I saw on twitter; titled “Why the Phrase Parenting Your Parent Is Demeaning”. I will not mention the author of the article, but will include the link to it.

Once I read the article, I was slightly aggravated again over this statement and the thinking behind it, so I posted several ‘tweets’ in response to it.

1. I have addressed this topic more than once. I do not find it demeaning to use the term Parenting My Parent,

2. Nor do I have any shame or guilt at doing so. If I did not love and respect my mother, I would not be caring for her.

3. This carries enough burdens without having to defend a particular term that we might use to refer to caregiving of a parent.

4. I know the author has cared for several family members, I only one, and I have forged my way through the last 4 years,

5. With little to no help. So if I choose to say I am now the parent of the one who parented me so many years ago,

6. I do so with pride and with the utmost love and respect for my 96 year old mother.

Those who find this term offensive and disrespectful are certainly entitled to their opinions. I believe there are many more of us out there caring for our parent or parents who do not agree with their view.

I like to define specific terms, to gain a fuller understanding of their meaning, so I looked up the definition of parent.

Two definitions are:

1. A person who cares for another, and,

2. To be or act as the parent of…

Ok, does this not describe what a person who cares for their parent is and does? Certainly is a description of what I do. The following “Parent’s Job Description” I found online, and I chose the ones that in part describe my caregiving duties. Words in italics are my comments.

First of all, it is (often) long term, challenging, and (seems) permanent. The parent must have good communication abilities; (well we actually learn new and varied ways to communicate).

A parent needs to be organized; (to me the biggest organization needed here is to organize and manage one’s time throughout the day and night). A parent must be available 24/7, (and those 24 hours will often turn into 36).

There must be a willingness to be hated. (The one you love and who loves you….will at times show hatred and anger towards your care giving efforts). You must have strong stamina.

It is immensely helpful to be a good planner along with the organizer and manager of time, for those rare trips you may get to take.

You are indispensable, or at least you deceive yourself into thinking so. You take the full responsibility and accountability for the quality of life you provide for the one you care for.

Advancement or promotion, no, but you are always moving forward advancing through the many changes your parent makes as the stages of aging progresses.

Experience required, certainly helps but is not likely to be the case, this is more often then not a total learn as you go position, and many times you will fall on your face.

Wages,benefits, Compensation? Recompense? Well, the experience I have gained, the mistakes I have learned from, the materials I have read, and discussions I have had, have well equipped me for my plans of paying this forward, making it count for more. The knowing inside that even through the mistakes I have made while caring, parenting my mom, I have done my best for her. Compensation and recompense are coming!

As caregiver to my mom, I have taken on all tasks of her care. She is in the last stages of dementia; she is mainly confined to bed, although I do try to get her up for 2 to 3 hours a day. There is nothing that she does for her own care. The role reversal that is objected to by the writer of the first article, has in fact taken place between mom and I. She is dependent on me for everything, just as a young child would be. This is the plain facts. I care for her as she cared for me, role reversal. There is nothing demeaning or disrespectful in that statement. In my blog, “If I Don’t Do It Who Will?, Transitioning From Daughter To Caregiver”, I write about putting on my caregiver’s coat and how difficult it was to drop the position of daughter and do that.

As caregiver for our parent, we deal with a tumultuous barrage of emotional and mental stresses, as well as physical duress. To have individuals make statements concerning a simple term or phrase about how we describe our position as caregiver is not encouraging or supportive at all.

Yes, someone may have much experience in the area of caregiving, and yes, they may have gained insight into how they think they should feel about what they do, and how they should describe it, but that doesn’t mean it should have to be embraced by the rest of us.

Because many of us already have to fend off feelings of guilt and condemnation on a daily basis, even though it is not intended by the writer of that article to pass such feelings on to caregivers, it is easy to fall prey once again to them.

Here is a quote from another article, “Parenting is a process borne out of love and commitment. It entails nurturing, guiding and guarding (the child).”

Sounds like a perfect description of a parent caregiver as well!

Caregiving, in most instances, is a process borne out of love and commitment, just as parenting is.

I am my mother’s mother, her mom, her caregiver, her parent, I take care of her! I made a commitment to her years ago and I have done the best I can to keep that commitment these past years. I make no apologies for referring to myself at any time as being a parent to my parent!  There is no disrespect in those words, and I have not forgotten who she is and who she was.

Mom turns 96 this Friday…

If you disagree....have at it....aim good!


OK! Your turn to climb up on the Soap Box and have your say! I’ll even let you use my blow horn thing!


  1. Can't wait! Should be interesting:)

  2. I have enjoyed reading your blog. Just got an invitation and wanted to share with you in case you are interested or know of someone who would be:

    Wisconsin Premiere
    "I Remember Better When I Paint"
    A documentary about the Arts and Alzheimer’s
    Narrated by Olivia de Haviland

    Thursday, May 27, 2010
    5-7p.m. (film begins at 5:30)
    UWM Union Ballroom West
    University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
    2200 E. Kenwood Blvd.

    An international documentary about the positive impact of art and other creative therapies on people with Alzheimer’s and how these approaches can change the way we look at the disease. A film by Eric Ellena and Berna Huebner.

    Meet the filmmakers at the panel discussion following the screening with local experts on aging Tom Hlavacek (Alzheimer’s Association) and Beth Meyer Arnold (Luther Manor).
    Admission is FREE. RSVP: smbraden@uwm

  3. great article....I am most definately blowing the same horn as you and applaud you on this. We most definately become the parent...we are cleaning up after them, in my case preparing meals, telling them when to change their sleepware and bedware, dispensing medicine,and the list goes is a known statement...we become the parents to them.....I totally agree. I get scolded when i call this a job. I say things I quit my job for this new job...people say how hard can this be...I just posted this on on the question of the day how did you grow...I grew confidence...this is a hard job!! I think at times harder than raising children in some respects...parents can vent to one another but as soon as you say anything negative about your 91 year old mom you get the look of can complain about your jobs and kids people..from time to time this job, or parental role I am just as frustrating....thank you donna for writing this.....from one great parent to another:)

  4. Thanks D, I posted this response on too, and want to use the same comment here...they are just words, titles, phrases, whatever, it is that is behind those words that makes the difference…attitude. I have read comments from caregivers that were so negative it was awful. But they were is a situation they did not want to be in and were not equipped in anyway to handle it. I am sure there are quite a few caregivers like that out there, but they really don’t come out and share becasue they are afraid of how people will judge them for the way the feel about caregiving. It is not usually a chosen profession! I did choose to take care of mom years ago as she got older, I had no idea what these years were going to hold for us. And we all really got sandwiched together after the fire, which for her was a good thing because she needed someone living with her at that point. Anyhow, it is all about the attitude of the heart, not the title we give our job, right?
    We get those same looks or comments from people when we are open and honest, or tell a little joke, like we are going to sell mom to the highest bidder...people are horrified...get over it tell little jokes like that is another way of venting, and we have to vent! It does not mean we hate our parent! Hhmmm, sounds like a maybe material for another Soap Box speech??!

  5. Well. I've no use for the blow horn thing:)
    I agree with you... :) But I'm one of how many people taking care of one person. So we're all kind of parenting her:)

  6. We work with hundreds of patients a year as a hospice and home health agency in Utah. I have such a respect and love for caregivers. When we were 18 years old we never thought we would have the added responsibility we now face, but I have seen caregivers sacrifice so much and yet many do not look at it as a sacrifice. They feel the heavy burden, but would not have it any other way. It is so important as a caregiver to reach out and utilize the resources available. Many feel huge guilt just to take a weekend night out. It is OK. The needs will be their when you get home. There are often good neighbors around who are willing to help, but don't know how. Don't feel bad to ask for their help--That is what makes the world a better place, when we serve each other and are willing to be served. Mark from First Choice Home Health and Hospice of Utah