Shifting Roles

February 8, 2011 at 7:34 am | Posted in Family Ties | 1 Comment
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As a caring parent, you understand that it is your responsibility to care for your children.  Parents are the greatest role models in their children’s lives and have the greatest influence over all that they do.  Of course, kids will disagree, argue, and even rebel, but this is the truth.  I know, because I always looked up to my parents and expected that they would take care of me.

What is unique about adulthood, beyond the fact that you have to take care of yourself is that at some point, you actually start taking care of your parents.  I watched my parents play the duel role of caring for my brother and me while also caring for my elderly grandparents.  I always imagined that this happened later on in your life, since that is what I witnessed in my childhood.  But I am now realizing that it is something that starts a lot earlier than that.

When I was 14, my father had a heart attack.  It didn’t happen the way you always imagine it to. It’s a lot less dramatic than that.  He had been running, and felt a heaviness on his chest. He thought it was pneumonia. When he went to the doctor, the doctor said it was a heart attack.  My dad went on to have septuple bi-pass surgery and recover to the point where he was able to squeeze in one last marathon before returning to a life of regular exercise and a new focus on healthier eating.  When my father fell ill, my mother was completely distraught.  I, too, was scared to death, but I had to be strong for my family.  It was at this point that I realized that my parents were not gods — they were not immune to the troubles that befall regular people.  But I still saw my parents as strong and never really thought they could make any serious mistakes.

But now that I am living on my own, paying my own bills, and living my own adult life, I constantly worry about my parents.  They have been hit hard by the recession and I worry about their stability and their health.  I try not to think about it too much as I know it could consume me, but it’s always lingering in my mind.  They are not as young as I like to convince myself they are, but they are not old enough to rely on me either.  Still, I do everything I can to be there for them and to support them without letting it get to me.

I know they may still worry about me a little, but I think they have learned to trust that I will be okay.  I think I now worry about them a whole lot more.  It is in this shifting of roles that I am really amazed.  It is what is meant by the phrase, “circle of life.”  They gave me everything growing up and I plan to return the favor.

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  1. So true…it’s funny as you get older you realize how much they meant to your development good or bad. As we become parents, you realize that there is no blueprint on how to raise a child. It’s all on the job training and you appreciate the challenges our parents faced.


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