Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Taking care of Mom and Dad

My son likes to remind me that he is my only child. He'll snuggle in my arms and say, "you are just my mommy - no one else has you for a mommy but me." It's possessive and sweet and it comes with a lot of responsibility that he doesn't understand yet.

Being a single child, he will feel lots of pressures in his life, whether I want him to or not. For example, he is the last in the line of my husband's family, so it will be up to him to carry on the family name. And he will be the only one around to help my husband and I make decisions when we are older.

Both of those scenarios are a long way into the future, but I thought about the burden this places on my son after reading the Princeton study that says daughters do much more of the care giving for elderly parents than sons do. At first glance the numbers look pretty grim - daughters provide more than twice as much of their time per month than sons do. And if there is a brother and a sister around to provide care, sons do even less. But, when you dig through the numbers a bit more (it's all based on self-reported data), you'll find that men don't always separate "care giving activities" from "being a good son." So it's hard to tell where the story actually lies.

For me, I don't want to place the burden of responsibility on my son. I want to have a plan in place, so that when he wants to talk to me about my future I'm ready. I know I have a while before this all happens, but it's good to know that I will still be able to ease his fears when he is older. Because that's what mommies do.

Are you stuck in the middle of taking care of your children and your parents? How do you balance your ability to care for both? Tell me in the comments.

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