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[P]
Your Duty to Your Parents

By sasha in Op-Ed
Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 09:56:25 AM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

Recent things I have heard from my friends have given me ample perspective to think about my own ideas on family, my parents, and particularly the subject of aging, retirement, and associated medical care. Dispite the anticipated denounciations -- "this should be a diary entry!" -- I would like to share my cultural perspective on one aspect of this area, and perhaps provoke some interesting discussion. I guess this rant is somewhat US-centric, but I'm sure there are sociological parallels elsewhere.


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Seldom have I heard the subject discussed outside of occasional mainstream media 'feature stories' concerning retirement homes and nursing care. It all seems to have such a commercial flavour these days, that I think we forget the ideaological essence of the nursing home. Some of what I will say is figurative or maybe even blatantly naive.

It's a topic that has easily-assailable sociological roots. In America, it seems that the vast majority of families, assuming they remain tightly knit, without divorces or other catastrophes, nevertheless eventually split. I am talking about of course your traditional, middle-class nuclear family unit. Yes, there's all kinds of statistics that point solidly to the erosion of the nuclear family since the 1950s et al, yes, I know. That's not what I'm talking about. Statistics are one thing, but it's entirely different when you see it for yourself, with your own eyes.

At 18, a great deal of children feel compelled to move out of their home and get as far away from their parents as possible. I speak from the perspective of someone who happens to be approaching that classification. Others are inhumanely 'kicked out' of their home at about the same time and compelled to seek their own 'place' and 'job' in order to learn 'financial responsibility.' There is an infinite number of permutations that explain how this process logistically happens, but in short, kids go off to university, or just find work in another city.

Pretty soon, Mom and Dad live in San Francisco, and Junior and Sis are in Charleston and New York, cultivating successful careers, owning a nice house, driving a nice car, having a geometrically perfect picket fence, 3.2 children, and a cool dog. About once a year, perhaps twice, most likely on Thanksgiving and Christmas, they might fly to San Francisco to see their parents. Later, when the children appear, the trend is essentially the same. Once or twice a year, we all hop on a plane and go visit grandma and grandpa. Sometimes this can be 'further complicated' by a complete set of grandparents on the other half of the zygote as well. Years go by, and things are like this. Grandma and grandpa have absolutely no influence over the domestic affairs of their progeny. Occasionally when there is a domestic dispute about money, one might feel compelled to call his or her parents and consult. Otherwise, there is no integration of grandma and grandpa's accumulated, elderly wisdom into the daily life of this suburban, middle class family.

Decades later, Junior and Sis, with their respective spouses, are in their 40s and 50s. Their parents have long retired, and are becoming medically fragile. Soon the question arises of what to do with them. One has developed multiple sclerosis, the other one isn't so great either, and both are overwhelmingly burdened with each others' care. Or perhaps they have divorced, and are both individually getting weary, worn from their years.

Either way, soon the question arises of what to actually do with Grand-dad. He's lost a great deal of his sight, his hearing isn't great, hope of financially-sound, self-sustaining medical care has abandoned him, and basically he needs someone to live with. Faced with increasing reminders of Grand-dad's mortality, it shocks me what a vast percentage of families opt to do:

They put them in a nursing home!

Of course, there are often logistical circumstances that simply make it an axiom that a certain percentage of the elderly will live in such a community. Be it the unfortunate death of their children, or the poverty of the family, or illness, sometimes there's just no other place for them to go when they become no longer self-sufficient. Sometimes, the elderly become so ill that they simply require professional, managed care, and their children, much as they may want to, are simply not able to provide this. These and many other circumstances all merit seeking such a facility where their parents may live their final days in peace.

But more often than not, these people, used to the comforts of cozy suburban life, hold themselves to be simply not in capacity to deal with the emotional burden of being reminded of their own and their parents' mortality. They think they cannot endure watching their parents degenerate before their own eyes, in gradual, incremental steps. Therefore, they opt for the way out of the coward -- they seek for them a nursing home or "assisted living" community, and simply chuck them in. Their parents are of course in no capacity to protest, in their frailness. It may be entirely against their wishes to end up in such a place, but what else are you going to do with them?

I believe this amounts to a betrayal of one's parents, and all that they stand for.

Grandpa and grandma gave you life - they conceived you, they nursed you into the world you know, taught you everything you know that is fundamental, and provided for you. They have given you what is priceless. And now, when they are frail, old, and demand some parenting from you, you pack them away in a nursing home where they decay in a monotonous, purpose-less existence. They may have been aspiring intellectuals in their day, who wish to continue to write, to translate, to work, but instead they must spend their day in their room, congregating occasionally in the lobby to watch television. I realise that the environment in various retirement communities varies, especially given their diversity ranging from something like an apartment complex to an utter prison. But if your parents explicitly wish to be there, or are modest and refrain from saying this in order to not impose 'undue hardship' upon you, you are violating their natural rights as human beings. You are undoing the essence of your own being.

It is your absolute obligation and duty to your parents to reciprocate their immeasurable care when they need it most, in their final years. This is very dire emotional hardship to many, who may have never even encountered the physiological decay and death of a loved one before. But, it is your duty to care for your parents, to not abandon them in their final years.

Easy for me to say, the armchair idealist. I'm far too young for the prospect of caring for my parents to be on any conceivable horizon. Perhaps my outlook will change and adjust pragmatically to the realities of my life as an adult. Perhaps not. But it is imperative that we not collectively abandon our elderly. It is this school of thought -- take the easy way out, dispose of the burden of your loving parents -- that will lead into social stagnation. You, so far as you are in capacity to do so, are responsible for the care and security of your parents until the moment they draw their last breath. The neglect of this responsibility amounts to an inhumane, parasitic lifestyle -- one that is so typical of middle-class, suburban career-men. Remember that when you are frail, when your hearing is gone, sight negligible so much that you cannot read, when your nerves are degenerating, cognitive abilities slipping away. Your children owe their lives to you. To say anything less is a dire contradiction of basic human instinct for care, for affection. You do not have to get through it alone - you must rely on the support of your family. If your family is unwilling to facilitate this for you, your family amounts to nothing.

It is in this light that I present the plight of today's American seniors. My perspective is probably somewhat limited and biased, but in school I have many times visited nursing homes for some form of community service or another, in a variety of areas in the US in which I have lived. In every instance, I encountered people with whom, once I got to talking earnestly, I have found that they do not really wish to be there, that they find their lifestyle unsettling, and that the beginning of the end of their golden years is the worst emotional hardship they have ever had to endure because their families simply opened their wallets, threw out some money, and stuffed them in these homes.

They have been abandoned.

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Your Duty to Your Parents | 130 comments (123 topical, 7 editorial, 0 hidden)
Well written (4.27 / 11) (#4)
by M0dUluS on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 12:02:30 AM EST

(much better than I could anyway). I have one point which I feel that you overlook. It is not merely not wanting to deal emotionally with reminders of one's own mortality that spurs many to put their elders into some sort of home. There are at least two other considerations:
1.Competence to deal with them medically. It can be very hard to look after someone who has a serious medical condition. In fact one can be completely unqualified to do it. This can be complicated by the fact that genuine resentment can develop at having to get up at all hours of the night, do quite strenuous tasks etc. When there is the emotional overlay of this being someone that one may not totally love then it can develop into a nasty situation. It can be better for both parties to go the "home" route. Sometimes this happens with spouses looking after each other. In my own family my wife's grandfather was looked after by her and her siblings and grandmother. He was happy to be in the home because of how furious the grandmother was with him.
2. Finances. One of the horrible things about our society is how under-appreciated home-care is: whether it is a mother with children or a caring-relative they can actually lose money compared to working at their career and paying some institution which relies upon sub-minimal-wage employees to care en masse for non-earning old people.

"[...]no American spin is involved at all. Is that such a stretch?" -On Lawn
Cheers! (3.50 / 2) (#7)
by sasha on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 12:28:54 AM EST

Thanks for pointing that out. However, I do believe I addressed issue #1 to some extent when I said that some elderly require specialised care that is beyond the capacity of their family to facilitate. I guess it wasn't given enough attention in my article though.

In the US, I have not personally seen many instances where it's actually cheaper to put someone in a nursing home. Perhaps in places where healthcare is sufficiently socialised as to offer some kind of coverage for that. In the US, it's usually prohibitively expensive, especially if you're looking for a 'half-decent retirement community.' What shocks me is that people are willing to pay anyway, just to free themselves of the burden of their parents.

According to a random page I came across, "basic nursing home care costs more than $50000 US per year." That's not small money. And I really don't think it exceeds the cost of having your parent live with you, unless you're caught in a rather bizarre set of circumstances.


--- Signal SIGSIG received. Signature too long.
[ Parent ]

In Canada (3.50 / 2) (#19)
by core10k on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 01:11:07 AM EST

It's about $30k/year for good care, which comes out to about $20k/year US. Which might sound like it's a lot cheapier, but it isn't really, since the cost of living is much lower in Canada. </P?<P>And as we all know, Canada has socialized health care. Basically, nursing homes aren't covered.



[ Parent ]
Pride (4.37 / 8) (#5)
by sonovel on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 12:02:53 AM EST

It may be easier for some elderly to depend on people they pay rather than people they raised from babies.

Good article, thanks for the thoughts.

Very interesting point (none / 0) (#68)
by Anonymous 7324 on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 05:13:51 PM EST

and quite valid. But why? I've been wondering about this one for a while.

In my culture (Chinese), the elderly are still greatly respected, and those can, brag (rightly IMO) about their sons and daughters who serve and support them faithfully in their old age.

Is the concept of filial piety is so foreign in the states?

[ Parent ]
me too (none / 0) (#75)
by mami on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 07:15:29 PM EST

I think what is different is that Chinese parents might give (sacrifice ?) much more willingly and uniformly (not much questioning about the role of the woman in the family and a mother's place in society etc) to their children, which then results that children accept more commonly to respect the elderly. Can you confirm that ?

What I mean to say, are there real issues of female emancipation, feminist issues with regards to priorities between career and motherhood etc among a Chinese couple ? I admire many Asian women and mothers, because they seem to handle all (raising children, keeping the family together and persueing a career) so much better than we (in this case I mean the average European woman) do. But I guess "Asian" is a very broad and imprecise description. I just don't know anything about it.





[ Parent ]
I wish I could say that (none / 0) (#81)
by Anonymous 7324 on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 08:58:34 PM EST

there are no issues with inequality or perceived inequality, but that's simply not true.

Take my mother for example. She is old fashioned, and believes looking after my father and myself to be her first duty. She does a perfect job of this, of course, and she wants me to find a nice girl -- and her definition of nice girl begins with 'will look after and take care of you and the family,' and goes on to 'will cook and clean for you ...'.

Or take my Korean friend's mother, who, because of job situations has to live six hours away from his father. (Nothing to do with relationship issues -- simply an awful job market) She is also old-fashioned, and drives down twice a week to cook and clean for him.

Of course, what bewilders me most, is that women (my mom included) seem to have been programmed to think that this is the way it <i>ought</i> to be. I think the entire thing is silly: like I told my mom -- if I really want a maidservant, I'll hire one!

None of this is to say that I don't value what my mother does, or what other Asian women like her do, of course. :) I have a wonderful mother.

[ Parent ]
well, then (5.00 / 1) (#91)
by mami on Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 12:46:59 AM EST

if you think that your mother is a wonderful mother, but "that the entire thing is silly" , what do you think then your mother or future nice girl should have as priorities ?

Could you imagine that your mother actually is proud of what she is doing and most probably would feel very sad and confused, if she couldn't take care of her husband, parents or kids the way she does ? It's most probably simply her life and if you love her, why would you deny her those (silly) expressions of love ?

I am pretty old already and still get showered by my mother with acts of caring, like, when I visit for Christmas, it's impossible to stop her from cooking for eight persons, though we are only three of us. She barely can manage to walk to the grocery stores, and forgets from one moment to the next what she just did, but if I were try to stop her, she wouldn't know what else to do.

So, I pretend and let her do what she can and do the rest myself. So far, we always had some very long nice chats afterwards. I wouldn't want to miss that in the world, though I know by heart by now what she is going to say. But darn, I am already starting to forget sometimes...:-)

...and then I start of how I could manage to have a nice Christmas with my son... It's just in the blood, I think. I dunno. Nobody programmed me. It's the way I saw it my parents doing.
I guess, I don't know it better, may be I just imitate, but the thing is, that I like doing it, it's not a duty, it's more a need to express myself and feel good about myself. It makes me happy.

When my father died, it was after a year long illness, which forced him into bed. My mother cared for him at home and we kids thought she was completely overburdened with it. But she did it and got help from nurses, who came to our home and helped. She wouldn't let him die in the hospital and he died with much dignity and she knows exactly, when and how he died. She can describe the smallest details of his last night. And that too is good for her.

None of us children would have had the strength to care for him the way she did. (He was difficult to care for, because he lost his arm in WWII and couldn't move the last three month his body by himself in his bed). My brother would have never been there to care for him, my elder sister is not the most capable and fond of nursing, I am, but I was overseas most of the time.

So, simply spoken, I think my mother did a great job and she is very much at peace with herself today. Actually she is thinking and waiting for her death and pretty much wants to die the same way he did. My sister and I have no idea yet how we will care for her. We both would feel lousy to let her go into a nursing home, and I don't think it will be necessary, or if so, just for a very short time. Hopefully.

What a weird story for K5.

[ Parent ]
A possible response (none / 0) (#127)
by nimportequi on Tue Oct 30, 2001 at 10:00:46 AM EST

I don't get your point: where is the difference ? A+, nimportequi.

[ Parent ]
Their Beliefs, Not Mine (4.14 / 7) (#8)
by thecabinet on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 12:32:02 AM EST

I believe this amounts to a betrayal of one's parents, and all that they stand for.

That quote is where this speech gets lost. What my parents stand for, and what I stand for, are two different things. My parents brought a burden, me, upon themselves. They, having created me are therefore responsible for my care.

I, on the other hand, had no part in my creation, and therefore owe them no debt. For those that choose to stay with their parents once they are no longer minors, perhaps there is some sort of debt owed.

Were I an orphan, do I owe the State some special thanks for caring for me? I think not. Why then my parents?

Ultimately, my beliefs are based largely on those of my parents. They, apparently, taught me to abandon, and they'll learn the mistake of that lesson. Maybe someday I too shall be soo unfortunate.

Well, what can I say? (1.50 / 4) (#9)
by sasha on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 12:34:39 AM EST

That's frightfully selfish and unapologetic to the mundane problems of human interaction. My point rests more with the grand scheme of things.


--- Signal SIGSIG received. Signature too long.
[ Parent ]

Depends.... (none / 0) (#49)
by Elkor on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 11:42:41 AM EST

What you owe individuals depends on what you get from them.

Look at the type of life you had growing up. What did your parents provide for you? Did they do the bare bones and make sure you had clothes and food and went off to school? Did they actively seek to ensure your happiness and well being or were you merely a place holder to fulfill a space in their life?

If your parents cared about you and tried to ensure you were happy and fulfilled as you were growing up, then yes, you should "owe" them similar consideration when their care falls to you.

If, however, they just made sure you grew up, then you owe them the same. The opportunity to continue living, though mayhap without the amenities they may desire.

Life is a circle, you reap what you sow. Be sure the harvest your parents gather matches the crop they planted with you.

Regards,
Elkor


"I won't tell you how to love God if you don't tell me how to love myself."
-Margo Eve
[ Parent ]
That was my point... (none / 0) (#54)
by thecabinet on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 12:27:31 PM EST

Life is a circle, you reap what you sow. Be sure the harvest your parents gather matches the crop they planted with you.

(Despite my vitriol) That was sort of my point, and I completely agree with you. Ultimately, children will largely treat their parents how they were taught to treat people. If the parents invested time into raising a caring, concerned child, they'll likely get the care sasha believes all parents deserve.

I, however, would say they'll (for the most part) get what they deserve, no matter what treatment it is they receieve. After all, they taught their child to treat them that way.

[ Parent ]

I agree somewhat, but (none / 0) (#77)
by mami on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 08:04:05 PM EST

don't forget that there are many real reasons outside of your direct control, which can make it impossible for the children to care for their parents the way they wished they could.

In my family for example grandparents, parents and children were distributed over three continents and despite extreme continent hopping by children and grandchildren, you can't overcome those geographical and also cultural differences for your whole lifetime. I was very lucky, because my parents took good care of themselves and though they missed me emotionally often, they would have never wanted to live in my household when the question arose, if they needed care. But they surely would have loved to have me in their driving distance.

My son lately thinks about me and how I end up, when I am old (which makes me pretty nervous) and I know I would never want to live in his household, especially not if he has his own family.

But I am sure, I wouldn't mind, if I would live in the same town or in driving distance. Other than that, I would try to do everything to set myself up with work and house, so that I have the feeling I am somewhere at home and have something to do, which means something to me. I do think that is very difficult in the U.S. and much easier in Europe. I think it has a lot to do with size, infrastructure and the social net each country has (or has not).

Most of the time, elderly parents can take care of themselves for a long time, but need their children emotionally to be "in driving distance" to not feel abandoned. When they are really sick and need home- or medical care, you can only pray that this status doesn't last too long, because often the children would never be able to manage that kind of care by themselves. So, they need the help of assistant living accomodations sometimes, dependent on what the conditions are. At that stadium, it shouldn't be a matter of "reaping what you sow", it's a matter of allowing someone to die in dignity.

[ Parent ]
gifts do not imply debt (4.50 / 2) (#58)
by garlic on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 01:34:36 PM EST

oweing your parents implies that you are in their debt for something that they've done for you.

I'm in debt to the car company for giving me a car before I gave them all the money. I'm paying the car company back because this was implied when I got the car.

When my grandmother gave me a car, I didn't owe her anything, because it was a gift. You don't owe debts for gifts.

so it is for what my parents did for me in raising me. It was a gift to me, not something implying that I'd have to pay them back. If I choose to gift to them care when they are older it can be completely seperated from any gifts that they have given me in the past. I could also not give them care, but make them pay for it through their will.

HUSI challenge: post 4 troll diaries on husi without being outed as a Kuron, or having the diaries deleted or moved by admins.
[ Parent ]

My (personal) feelings (2.57 / 14) (#10)
by core10k on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 12:41:56 AM EST

Fuck em. I wouldn't even pay for them to stay at a nursing home, the SOBS.

Fuck my inheritance too - let em sell off their two houses (both in towns, on opposite but perversely distant sides of the same city. ) and farm land, just as long as I don't have to deal with their bullshit.

Why do some people like their parents again? I sure wish I knew.



Ack (3.25 / 4) (#11)
by core10k on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 12:43:27 AM EST

Did I say something as immature as 'bullshit'? I must have got caught up in my emotions.. *grumble*

[ Parent ]
Quoth Gump: "It happens." (3.66 / 3) (#27)
by Apuleius on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 02:20:32 AM EST

Our friend Sasha didn't realise just how many raw nerves he'd step on tonight. Can't hold it against him, though.


There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
[ Parent ]
But you know (none / 0) (#56)
by mami on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 12:43:38 PM EST

that each mother (and sometimes fathers), who mess up their marriages and damage and confuse the hell out of their kids with it, ask themselves how to avoid to cause the feelings you and others have shown and Sascha has stepped on tonight ?

They themselves normally can't handle their own failures and what comes out of their own mess with regards to their kids. They need to get a handle on it as much as the kids do.

The question is how you break the cycle. Just because a kid has become a "victim" of their parents marriage failure, doesn't protect the kid to do better when it becomes a parent itselves and they know it. So, we have vast numbers of youngs adults, who are scared to hell to found families, because they haven't seen many which function. What to do about that ? How you break that cycle with success ?

[ Parent ]

Yes, I know. (none / 0) (#66)
by Apuleius on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 04:47:40 PM EST

But sometimes it goes beyond that. My father just plain didn't give a damn. I won't do that to my kids. But if he winds up in a ratty nursing home, tough tamales for him.


There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
[ Parent ]
Well. (3.50 / 2) (#12)
by sasha on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 12:44:56 AM EST

I'm sure there are some circumstances in which your relationship with your parents is irreconcilable with the far broader goal of caring for them in their later life. If you feel yours is one of them, that's your right.

However, I implore you to realise that whatever personal grudge you may have with your parents' character is mundane. There are far larger, grander things at stake, and I feel that their care is of far more cosmic importance than one's personal differences with them. It's a serious question.


--- Signal SIGSIG received. Signature too long.
[ Parent ]

OK, how about... (4.25 / 4) (#14)
by Scandal on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 12:52:48 AM EST

... the case where one or both parents were particularly abusive?

Naturally, in such a case, it's best to return to one's home to inflict as much fear and pain in the lives of those who may have tortured you in the name of your upbringing, and what better way to demonstrate how well you learned the lesson than by being there in person? Sure, the quiet despair of neglect during the several years of "care" one might receive in a nursing home might provide no small measure of satisfaction to the adult child, but it pales in comparison to the unbridled glee possible from direct physical contact. Osteoporosis never looked so good.

But I'm feeling much better, now...

*Scandal*


[ Parent ]
Preach on. Amen ;-) (none / 0) (#16)
by core10k on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 01:02:34 AM EST

Sounds like we're on the same wavelength. What's goes around comes around, eh? I think it's in the family, actually.

My grandfather was an alcoholic and abusive bastard, who was ostrasized by his family. My father is on the same path... well, you get the idea.

Needless to say, I see no children in my future - I'm not letting it happen again.

[ Parent ]
Heh... (5.00 / 3) (#55)
by beergut on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 12:35:02 PM EST

What are you, about 18?

Assuming you're not gay, finding the right person will probably make you think differently.

My grandfather was an alcoholic, and tended to terrorize his family when he was on a bender. I grew up with him and my grandmother, essentially, but I never saw any of that, since he stopped drinking shortly after I was born. I loved the old man, but didn't tell him so often enough. When he had a stroke, and succumbed to Alzheimers, languishing in a nursing home unable to speak, and later seemingly unable to understand that there were people in the room with him at all, I did not visit him enough. He had daily visitors, however. My grandmother and mother and aunts visited him daily. It helped, if for no other reason than we could make sure he was clean, fed, and reasonably comfortable (at least, to appearances.)

At the time, I had my head bent in odd shapes around a girl. Though I still care for her, and loved her madly then, and learned lots of life's little lessons from her, I would love to go back just once and tell the old man I love him once more before he passed on, and would trade the times I spent with her in that last month or so for the opportunity to spend just one hour in the past.

Grandpa had lots of things he could have taught me if I had had the wits to learn them. I miss him every day.

My grandmother is in her eighties now, and still relatively independent. She lives in her own house, and is visited daily by aunts and uncles, and I visit her every time I have the chance. I never fail to tell her that I love her. I missed out on that chance with my grandpa. I installed a new faucet and drain in her bathroom last night, as a matter of fact. She still helps me out when I need it, too. It is she who made it possible for me to obtain a mortgage on a house I closed on yesterday. I will pay her back, but the fact still remains - I would be stuck in an apartment in some urban-ish part of St. Louis, instead of in a small (but currently adequate) house on 9.5ac in the woods right on the river (my longtime dream, to have a house on a bluff overlooking a nice river valley or the ocean, may be a possibility now.) I would gladly take her into my home and care for her as best I can, should it be necessary.

I have never met my natural father, but I guess I'll do so someday. He's a diesel mechanic, and I might be able to pick up a few handy-dandy shop tips from him. I won't take care of him, because I don't know him. He was a sperm donor.

My mom is a strange case, and I don't know yet if I would make the effort to care for her in her old age.

My adopted father is also an alcoholic, and decided that his bottle was more important to him than his family. Fine. I won't lift a finger to help him out, but I have lately been thinking of forgiving him, and at least speaking to him after these 12 years or so. I may not get another chance to thank him for the things he did teach me when he wasn't shitfaced, and for the things he taught me when he was.

I am not an alcoholic, and though I might get loaded once a month or so, I don't make drinking a really regular occurrence. I have sworn to myself that my kids will not see the things that I have seen, and live with the things that I have lived with. I have another entirely different set of problems... Heh...

My point is this: your dad and grandpa may be alcoholics, but that doesn't mean that you have to be. You may well find that you want kids sometime down the line, if the right person comes along. Have a strong enough backbone to promise yourself that, should it happen, your children will not live the same cycle, and the character enough to walk the walk.

i don't see any nanorobots or jet engines or laser holography or orbiting death satellites.
i just see some orangutan throwing code-feces at a computer screen.

-- indubitable
[ Parent ]

Re: Heh... (none / 0) (#97)
by monksp on Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 05:35:20 AM EST

Assuming you're not gay, finding the right person will probably make you think differently.

Wow. This statement just blows my mind. It really does. I've got to agree with the poster you're replying to. Thinking about my childhood, there's not only a sense that I could end up like my father, there's an abject -terror- that my child could end up like me. Sure, it's something that you could fight, and if you're making it work, great. Wonderful. Truly, I'm happy for you.

But the thought that 'the right gal'll fix what ails ya' is just folly, especially in a situation like this. Other than the fact that it seems to suggest that there's something wrong with wanting to not have children, it has a flawed definition of the 'right' person. Think about it. If you felt strongly about children, and another person held the exact opposite view, are they right for each other? Is it really possible to work past this? One might agree to forego having children, or the other might consent to a few, maybe only one, but will that tension ever really die? Compromises rarely ever even partially satisfy both parties, and with something that's always felt so strongly as having children is, a compromise just isn't a solution. It won't make your life more fulfilled, it won't make the 'right' person's any more fulfilled, and it won't make the kid(s)' lives any more fulfilled, and that underlying tension -will- be picked up by the kids.

[ Parent ]

Birthright (4.25 / 8) (#17)
by ucblockhead on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 01:05:52 AM EST

Genetics means nothing. Frankly, my genetic father can go fuck himself for all I care. (And yes, I have very good reasons for saying so.)

My mother, and indeed, my stepfather (or exstepfather, as he is no longer married to my mother) can depend on me for help, monetary and otherwise, in the future. that is the grander scheme, thanks where it is due, not for silly reasons like genetics.


-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

What? (4.75 / 4) (#25)
by Apuleius on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 02:07:49 AM EST

Your parents took good care of you? You're right to feel a duty to do the same to them. Is materialism a bad reason to throw your parents to a nursing home run by the people who run the cafeteria in your high school? Damn right. There was once an implied contract whereby your parents took care of you in your youth, and you took care of them in their old age. People who break that contract after benifitting from it are causing you to be shocked. I understand.

But understand this: some of us didn't benefit from the first part of the contract and so can't feel bound to it. I was 3 years old and was suspected of having muscular dystrophy[0]. This was before biotech and DNA testing, and the only way to test for it was a biopsy. They would take out a piece of muscle and zap it with juice to see if it quivered fast enough. My mother looked at her family history: no evidence of dystrophy. She called my Dad to ask him to do the same. He couldn't be bothered. So I had to have the biopsy. It was done with no anaesthesia (would alter the results of the quiver test). I still have the scars. My dad couldn't be bothered with a few phone calls, so I got vivisected at age three. And I'm not the only one. Family obligations either go both ways, or they don't go either way. My dad can go sleep on a street grate for all I care.

[0] A form of it that is not x-linked. There are several.




There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
[ Parent ]
I know what you mean. (2.50 / 2) (#13)
by Phage on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 12:49:48 AM EST

My father died a couple of weeks ago. I found out through a long chain of phone calls.
My brother and I that he walked out on when I was <1 and my brother 5, will not be attending the funeral.<p>
I don't find Heathens to be sexy, as a general rule.
Canthros
[ Parent ]
Damn (none / 0) (#15)
by Phage on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 12:58:57 AM EST

I thought I had previewed that !


I don't find Heathens to be sexy, as a general rule.
Canthros
[ Parent ]

Parents have a duty to cover their own retirement. (3.54 / 11) (#18)
by la princesa on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 01:08:33 AM EST

As someone already mentioned, one doesn't choose birth. However, it's not abandoning to choose not to care for those who brought one into the world. It's no-one's duty to take care of parents who didn't plan well enough to have some retirement options. Nothing can be forced. One cannot be forced or coerced through some notion of supposed communal duty to care for someone else. Either one's parents have saved enough money or are making use of the social services network if one is available, or they ought to be graciously asking the children to contribute. And if the kids say sure why not, that's reasonable and sensible.

But it's wrong to force someone else to care for another just because of a blood tie. Where's the sympathetically coercive support for childless people, or people whose children die first? Bringing a kid into the world's a one-way responsibility, in the way that a patient isn't obligated to a doctor who saves their life on the operating table. It's what one ought to do to the best of their power, WITHOUT expectation of reciprocation.

No Side (3.22 / 9) (#20)
by SPrintF on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 01:13:49 AM EST

Let's see. Mom bailed out on the family when I was 12. Dad was physically and verbally abusive throughout my childhood and didn't lift a finger to help me through college.

My parents taught me that in this world, you're on your own. I learned that well. So, fuck 'em.

You think it's bad now? (3.25 / 4) (#21)
by Apuleius on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 01:34:55 AM EST

The people now in nursing homes are there because of their kids' (i.e. the baby boomers) mobility. The baby boomers are heading to nursing homes not only because their kids are mobile, but also because divorce makes their kids less inclined to care about one of their two parents. My dad never cared two whits about me. You think I'll spoon feed him when he gets old? Not going to happen. I'm not even going to pick his nursing home. My mother, however, is different. I don't plan to move around forever. WHen I sink roots, my plan is to persuade her to move to the same town.


There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
Hhhhmmm... (4.00 / 8) (#23)
by Mad Goose on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 01:41:54 AM EST

This made me think...I think it wouldn't be worth it to just live a pointless existence such as that in a nursing home. Yes, yes, I realize that there are good ones, but the vast majority are just shit. These are living, thinking people. Don't treat them any less then what they are.

But this got me thinking: Except for genetic diseases and illness, could the majority of this be avoided by various methods? Exercise, healthy eating, etc.? Why deteriorate? Most people can live into the 100s with some changes in lifestyle. If I couldn't get up the stairs, and if my mind especially started going, what would be the fucking point? Yes, I'm young, so I might think differently later on, but why would I bother? To live, you need a purpose; without that, what do you have?

The point I'm trying to make is: IMHO, we need, as a group, to start living healthier...perfectly able right up to our last breath. With new research, major changes in lifestyle (food, exercise) we could live almost the same right to the death.

But I thought of a odd idea. (don't get mad, just disprove. I don't necessarily agree or disagree with this statement) Is it irresponsible to live unhealthily, and put that burden on society? I understand if you're born like that, and you can't help it. But if you just plant your ass on the couch and don't do anything to help your health, is it your fault? I live a fairly healthy life, and I'm looking for ways to improve it. I don't want my kids (if I have any) to have to do any of that for me. I'm taking responsibility.

-mad_goose
Note: if this didn't make any sense, sorry. It's late and I'm tired.


-------------------------------------------
How do you know this post isn't the result of a drunken bet?

Discworld "Map":
"There are no maps. You can't map a sense of humor."
-Terry Pratchett
Most people can't live to 100 (none / 0) (#46)
by sonovel on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 11:02:20 AM EST

What makes you think that most people can live to 100?

It is like a 1 in a million shot to live to 100 (right now).

Surely more than 1 in a million lived a healthy lifestyle, with good food, ample exercise, etc.

But in general, I agree with the sentiment.




[ Parent ]
incorrect (none / 0) (#82)
by crayz on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 09:04:41 PM EST

there are currently 70,000 centenarians in the US. that is about 1/4000 people. and that's just as a part of the population. presumably a person's actual chance is even better than 1/4000.

[ Parent ]
I stand corrected. (none / 0) (#88)
by sonovel on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 10:54:27 PM EST

It is much more common than I thought.

Still, I don't think the average person can live to 100.

[ Parent ]
Maybe not (none / 0) (#106)
by Merc on Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 02:25:45 PM EST

Consider that there are 70,000 people in the US who were born 100 years ago. What are the odds that the average 50 year old won't see such advances in the next 50 years that he/she will live to 100. Remember that the people who are 100 now were in their prime during the great depression, and that can't have been great for their health, yet 70,000 still made it to 100. I'd say people born after WW2 have a much better chance of living a very long life.



[ Parent ]
Predicting the future. (none / 0) (#109)
by sonovel on Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 04:35:45 PM EST

Heck, I don't even remember the topic anymore!

Without advances in medicine, 100 is very very old. It is way out there on the "bell curve".

With advances, who knows? No way to predict really.


[ Parent ]
Won't work. (none / 0) (#85)
by ghjm on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 10:29:08 PM EST

The conditions most likely to cause debilitating illness in the elderly are for the most part not related to "healthy living." Yes, there's some correlation with heart disease, and with certain types of cancer. However, there is no correlation whatever between fitness and Alzheimer's or fitness and senile dementia, or with most types of cancer, or with stroke or many heart conditions. If you follow all "current best practice" health recommendations, you can still wind up requiring assisted living for the last 20 years of your life. You're trying to blame the patient for their disease, which is not correct and doesn't solve anything.

[ Parent ]
Choices (3.83 / 6) (#26)
by Blarney on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 02:17:36 AM EST

If you have enough money to care for a child, or for an elderly parent, which would you choose? Put the kid up for adoption, or let Mom go into some welfare Medicare hole? I think the choice is obvious, and I think it gets made all the time. It's crude, but completely as Darwin would predict.



Money is usually not the issue. (5.00 / 3) (#28)
by Apuleius on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 02:22:17 AM EST

Logistics is usually the issue. People with no money and good parents will wind up taking their parents in, usually.


There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
[ Parent ]
I agree with you, but the issue more complex. (4.78 / 23) (#29)
by Kasreyn on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 03:26:48 AM EST

I have a personal perspective on this, so my viewpoint may be distorted. My apologies in advance for an extremely long comment.

When my paternal grandfather died, my grandmother on that side came to live with us a few years later. Mostly because she couldn't handle her household any more. Then, over the course of several years, it became clear that something was wrong with her. She was finally diagnosed with Dementia (a gradual loss of mental capacity that's kind of a cousin of Alzheimer's). She gradually grew worse and worse, but always remained cheerful. She was always a very kind and happy person.

A few years later, my ailing grandparents on my mother's side were finally convinced to move in with us as well (my folks have a large home). My maternal grandmother had already been diagnosed with Alzheimer's, and my grandfather, who had lost about 50 pounds in three months to chemotherapy treatments for his cancer, was unable to care for her any more. The reason they took so long to move in with us was grandpa's stubborn pride that he could handle things. And he did, for longer than we thought he could.

Grandpa passed away about 5 months after they moved in with us (about Jan. 2000 I think), and both my grandmothers deteriorated more. My parents were by this time employing some family friends of ours as full-time nursing care (that is, around the clock) for my grandmothers. By this time, my paternal grandmother had lost her capacity for speech and couldn't recognize people she knew all her life, but she was still cheerful and happy. My other grandmother wasn't so well, she declined faster.

Finally, about 6 months ago, my grandmothers' money ran out. It was this which was being used to pay for the caregivers and medication. My parents were about dead of exhaustion from dealing with them. They were effectively forced to put them in a nursing home, because even a nursing home could give them better care than my folks.

My parents both work(ed) full time, and then came home and helped out with my grandmothers. They didn't have a minute's free time in their days for about 3 years. Plus, both my parents are already in their late 50's, so they just didn't have the physical energy to handle it any more. It was wrecking their marriage as well. They weren't married to each other, they were married to caring for two elderly ladies who both needed about as much care as a 3 year old by this point.

You see, it's not always an issue of respect. The extremely ill and/or elderly (my paternal grandmother is 94 this year) cost a staggering amount of money and effort to care for today. More so if you try to care for them at home. Even if you give your all, it can just run you over like a steamroller.

So please don't go looking at every elderly person in a nursing home and think that behind each of them lurks an uncaring family. For some of them, that's surely the case. I've spent a lot of time in nursing homes and hospitals due to this. I've seen fiesty patients who wheel around the halls, 90 year old men pinching nurses' butts. I've seen helpless or emotionally disturbed people lying on their back for hours with nothing to do. I've seen those who are forgotten and never visited. And I've seen others who look better cared for and loved. It's also a sad truth that, if you want your elderly loved one to get better care, visit them more! Nursing homes are strapped for time, resources, and good employees. If one elderly person seems to be checked up on a lot, it's more likely that patient will receive better care.

My family and I still love my grandmothers, but about the only thing left we can do for them is visit. They don't even reply any more, because they can't understand, or else they can't make understandable language. But for all we know, the people we loved are still inside there, feeling lonely when we're gone.

I'd say putting the elderly in nursing care is fine, as long as you VISIT them often, bring them gifts and new things to do (gets awfully boring in there), and in general let them know they're still loved and missed. It's abandoning them which is the betrayal.


-Kasreyn

P.S. You might want to note that since many of the elderly's memory is faulty, they may get visits - and then forget them. Then they'll tell people "my daughter never visits me", even though she was there the day before.


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
I agree. (3.50 / 2) (#33)
by sasha on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 06:53:51 AM EST

Oh, yes, there are obviously circumstances in which it is simply too difficult logistically to care for your parents. I believe I paid homage to this a few times in my article, but seeing all the response about it, I guess I didn't give it enough attention.


--- Signal SIGSIG received. Signature too long.
[ Parent ]

Absolutely (2.00 / 1) (#36)
by Afty on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 08:07:55 AM EST

Wow, a very eloquent, insightful and moving piece. I don't have time to elaborate on my experiences right now, but I would say I agree with the vast majority of your article.

[ Parent ]
well said. (2.00 / 1) (#48)
by ethereal on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 11:40:11 AM EST

I thought that your story sounded familiar, so I had to go look for the poster's name, and found that there was a reason it sounded so familiar :)

...ethereal, who has now been quite sufficiently guilted, thank you very much.

--

Stand up for your right to not believe: Americans United for Separation of Church and State
[ Parent ]

Possible earlier on (4.28 / 7) (#30)
by Nickus on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 04:20:20 AM EST

In general I agree with the author. But the problem is that people live much longer today than 50 years ago. Modern medicin can make them life 20 years more than "they should". This also means that the older they get the need more care. More care that the average family with two full-time working parents and kids can give.

The world has changed. It is not perhaps for the better but we still need to accept that a change has occured. Perhaps we should aim to make the elderly homes a more pleasant place to be in?




Due to budget cuts, light at end of tunnel will be out. --Unknown
Quality of life (none / 0) (#104)
by Merc on Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 02:00:59 PM EST

I have always thought that science being seen as an answer to all the world's problems, rather than a method is that it tends to emphasize the wrong things.

Science in medicine has made incredible strides in preventing death. The problem is that while a person may live much longer, and survive many more incidents, the quality of that life hasn't improved much at all. It as seen as a good thing if a sick, senile, old man lives for 5 years. The quality of those 5 years is never considered.

When this is extended to a global scale, it results in catastrophe. The death rate has dropped everywhere in the world, but in many places the birth rate has remained constant, and so the population on the planet keeps exploding.

I think the world has to realize that death is natural. Some injuries should result in death. A 15-week premature baby dying is sad, but not as sad as that same baby growing up and suffering through a life with brain damage and severe sickness resulting from that premature birth. And a father dying at 70 while relatively healthy is not as bad as a father dying at 80, after spending 5 years suffering through altzheimers and gradually increasing sickness.



[ Parent ]
In an ideal world you would be right (4.25 / 4) (#31)
by gcmillwood on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 04:57:35 AM EST

Unfortunately the world we live in is not ideal.

My parents are not that old yet, but they have told me several times that they intend to look after themselves in their old age, and do not wish to impose themselves an me or my siblings. I don't even feel any kind of obligation to look after them if they asked me too - I had no choice in being born. Why should they expect me to look after them, when they can provide themselves with a comfortable old age with no help from me? In principle I would look after them if I could, and they wanted me too though. I would do this because I love them, not because they caused me to enter the world though. Being selfish I would much rather they sorted out their own old age, I want my home to be mine, not theirs.

Many, many, people are not in the same situation, and cannot or do not wish to take care of their parents. My wife's grandmother is suffering from a form of dementia, and requires 24 hour care. None of the family is qualified, nor are they available to do this.

A friend of mine would never take her parents in, primarily because they didn't look after her properly when she was young. She doesn't feel any obligation to allow them to mess up her adult life after they already screwed up her childhood for her.

These are just a couple of examples, I am certain there are plenty more.

I also wonder whether moving in with your children is really the best thing for old people to do. Is it really more enjoyable to sit in an empty house all day when your child is out at work, instead of being in a nursing home with plenty of people of a similar age to hang out with? It can be, sometimes. Other times, perhaps when their friends have died, and you live in a rough area, maybe not.

Considerations (3.88 / 9) (#35)
by AmberEyes on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 07:50:29 AM EST

This is all my opinion, so YMM(and will)V.

Be very careful with the following:

Grandpa and grandma gave you life - they conceived you, they nursed you into the world you know, taught you everything you know that is fundamental, and provided for you. They have given you what is priceless.

I did not, nor did anyone else, ask to be born. I only mention this because some parents love to throw this argument/guilt trip out - that somehow, from "pre-embryo", you cried out to born. You did not.

Now, I agree with you about the child raising part. I think that's a vastly and hugely imoprtant part about this reciprocative care you're talking about, and I wholeheartedly agree with it for the most part. I'll get to that in a minute.

My fiancee's mother treats me like absolute garbage. It's amazing - I've done nothing conceivably wrong to her, yet she hates me. I'm waging my bets that she'll eventually come around once the realizes I'm not going away, but, should time suddenly be fast-forwaded to 40 years later, you can bet your last dime that I'm not spending a cent on her in her older years, nor would I spend a cent on anyone who treated me like that. This is a distinction that, to me, is dreadfully important.

You see, if you take a parent, you have essentially another person. What's special about that person? Well, for one, they bore you. For another, they have seen to it to place you in their care during critical years - part of this is obviously good care...things like providing for you, helping you to live in society, kindness, and discipline. Take out any one of those previous three things, and it falls apart. Remove the first, and you've got potential child neglect. Remove the second, and you create and introverted child. Remove the third, and you've got a communistic dictator of a parent. And remove the fourth, and you create a problem child.

My point is that if you remove any of these things, the parent ceases to be a parent. You've got to have all four of those things. Most parents do, which is great. Some don't.

Now, we pull that "but I gave you life" argument I mentioned above, back into all this. If we look at that argument, one could draw their own conclusions that a good excuse for having kids is to guilt them into being slaves for your exclusive use - your right - to have available for support when you grow older. Sound crazy? To me, that sounds about as crazy as a phantom child crying out for the desire to be born.

In essence, you can throw that "But I gave you life" argument/guilt wrap out. You'll find now that being a parent is really a factor of all those four previous qualities I mentioned above. And, as I said, when you take one of those out, it all crumbles. You become a "biological parent", not a "parent".

This leads me to an explanation as to why I said something as cold hearted as I wouldn't spend a cent on my fiancee's mother. I live by the golden rule, and anyone who knows me can attest to that. If you dick me over, I'll have nothing at all to do with you. But, you say to me, your fiancee's mother is not your mother! Or is this some wierd Kentucky thing?

No fair reader, she is not my mother. My mother (and father) are perfectly wonderful parents, who did all four of those things - they provided, they helped me form my own societial beliefs, they disciplined me, and they were kind to me. And they will reap their rewards when the time comes, because I love them unconditionally, and would take a bullet from them, both physically, financially, and personal time-wise.

It's the golden rule, baby. Be nice to me, and I'll be nice to you. Blow me off, and you can forget my help.

I've learned something. People who dick you over don't do it once. They do it over, and over, and over again, and the more you show you're willing to be nice and help them anyway, they more they'll take advantage of it. It's how cruel people work.

If that makes me mean and insensitive, then so be it, but people who are nice to me don't find me mean and insensitive, so that should tell you something there.

-AmberEyes


"But you [AmberEyes] have never admitted defeat your entire life, so why should you start now. It seems the only perfect human being since Jesus Christ himself is in our presence." -my Uncle Dean
considerations in context (none / 0) (#39)
by mami on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 09:24:27 AM EST

Now, we pull that "but I gave you life" argument I mentioned above, back into all this. If we look at that argument, one could draw their own conclusions that a good excuse for having kids is to guilt them into being slaves for your exclusive use - your right - to have available for support when you grow older.

Parents, who use that argument, have other problems they can't solve and use the kids as scape goat most of the time. I agree with much of what you say.

My mother (and father) are perfectly wonderful parents, who did all four of those things - they provided, they helped me form my own societial beliefs, they disciplined me, and they were kind to me. And they will reap their rewards when the time comes, because I love them unconditionally,

Many children believe that this will be so, but often they can't follow through., even if they want to. (The U.S. is a place where it is really very hard for them and it's one of the reasons why I think this country is very vulnerable and not strong from the inside out). That's why social programs like nursing homes, elderly home care etc. are still necessary.

What you might also experience is that you will get more mellow with the mistakes your parents, step parents and parernts-in-law made with you, when you realize that you yourself couldn't help making similar mistakes yourself later in your life. It' s almost sure that any person will go through that experience.

Hating people is very exhausting. When you get older you get more forgiving, because at least you get more tired if not a bit more wise as well.

I have often thought about the difference between some societies, who put a lot of emphasis to respect the elderlies no matter what, independent of how they treated their children.

Aside from true abuse and neglect, I would say there is a merit to it in general. Even if the elderly are truely "bitchy", they will get frail some day and know they pay a price for being mean. They too might change and learn and become a little gentler.

And all the "nice" elderlies have just an advantage no matter how "nice" they really were or are. They simply have more years on their back and whatever those years might have taught them counts in one way or another. For that simple reason it is wise to respect them pretty much no matter what.

They somehow need your love and in the end they need your help. It's very hard to die alone, you know. You will know as soon as you have gone through facing and accompanying the death of someone, who has loved you (no matter how many "mistakes" they made loving you).

[ Parent ]

Golden rule (4.00 / 1) (#44)
by Blader on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 10:49:15 AM EST

The golden rule is to do to others what you want them to do to you. Not do to others what they do to you. Completely different...

[ Parent ]
Reciprocal (5.00 / 1) (#64)
by greydmiyu on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 04:28:37 PM EST

Fine, the reciprocal of the Golden rule is that you owe people no more than they have given to you.

Point is the mother-in-law is not living by that rule, all bets are off. Like many other rules of social behavior it cuts both ways. That is how it is enforced.
-- Grey d'Miyu, not just another pretty color.
[ Parent ]
Still not quite there.... (5.00 / 1) (#74)
by Bear Cub on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 06:58:50 PM EST

I'm not trying to get on your case here, but the Golden Rule (though cheezily named) means a lot to me.
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
The Golden Rule is not about what you owe. It has nothing to do with how you're treated by anyone. It's a guid for how to treat others.

Truly living by the Golden Rule is hard. It takes thick skin and awesome humility. It often means treating others better than they treat you, even when they don't deserve it. It means showing kindness both to those who are kind and to those who are cruel.

I'm not saying it means letting yourself be taken advantage of. But look at it this way: What will your mother in law learn if you refuse to help her? What will she learn if you step in and do what you can, despite your differences?

------------------------------------- Bear Cub now posts as Christopher.
[ Parent ]

In the real world? (5.00 / 2) (#79)
by greydmiyu on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 08:39:44 PM EST

<P><I>What will your mother in law learn if you refuse to help her?</I><P>
<p>That her actions have consiquences.</p>
<P><I>What will she learn if you step in and do what you can, despite your differences?</I><P>
<p>That you're a sap.</p>
<p>The golden rule is in effect when you do not know the person and are unable to judge how they would treat you. Upon meeting a stranger, treat them as you would be treated. Polite, courtious, helpful, kind, etc.</p>
<p>If a person shows themselves to be untrustworthly, a leech, or constantly treats you poorly you do not do theym or yourself any services by putting up with their crap for a moment longer than needed once it is clear they are not going to reform their ways.</p>
<p>Trust me, it takes a lot for me to write of a person. I mean a LOT. The last time I wrote someone of I had known them for over 10 years and they had, in that time, drained me of emotional and financial support far in excess of any reasonable expectation. After one incident which proved that she did not care for my feelings, clearly didn't listen to anything I had to say and clearly put herself in danger (she had had many bodily "accidents" involving vehicles) I saw her for what she was. A burden.</p>
<p>I think after years of abiding by the golden rule and not getting fair treatment back one can, and indeed should, remove the offensive person from their life.</p>
<br>
-- Grey d'Miyu, not just another pretty color.
[ Parent ]
The Golden Rule (none / 0) (#119)
by mindstrm on Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 10:01:10 AM EST

Is more of 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you'.

And, although you may think it implies the following, it does not. "Do unto others as they have done unto you". IT doesn't work like that.

The golden rule is about doing things you can live with; things you can do with a clean conscience. IF I wouldn't want someone stealing from me, I won't steal from someone else. It's about inner peace... not reciprocation.


[ Parent ]
One key point you've missed - bigtime. (none / 0) (#50)
by beergut on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 11:52:22 AM EST

Okay, so, you'll not spend a dime to help out your spouse's parents.

Fine.

But, what if it falls to your spouse to care for his parents when they get old? Stranger things have been known to happen, you know. Will you still not lift a finger to help your spouse?

If your answer is, "No, I will not help my spouse to care for his ailing parents at the ends of their lives," then you should not have that person as a spouse. Indeed, you should not have a spouse, because there is obviously something wrong with your sense of loyalty.

If you marry your fiance, it is your duty to help him/her in these sorts of situations. That's what that "good times and bad" part is about when you take your vows.

i don't see any nanorobots or jet engines or laser holography or orbiting death satellites.
i just see some orangutan throwing code-feces at a computer screen.

-- indubitable
[ Parent ]

It seems to be mostly a problem in the U.S. (4.00 / 4) (#38)
by theboz on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 08:47:17 AM EST

This is one of the things I find deeply disturbing about this country. People so easily discard their parents when it is convenient for them. I can understand them doing this when it's a situation where the child and parents never got along, especially if there was abuse involved, but why do people who grew up with loving parents do this?

I think the answer is because our society is extremely selfish. This doesn't apply to everyone of course, as you will find in mostly rural settings that people actually care about their families enough to help the ones that need it. Outside of urban areas, it is not uncommon for people to give money when someone is broke, provide food when someone is hungry, or let people stay over if they lose their home. When your parents, or aunts and uncles that have no children, need a place to live, the family will always try to accomodate them first. This could mean anything from building another room onto the house for your parents and hiring a nurse to come once a week or even daily to help with their medical needs. This scenario does exist within the U.S., but unfortunately it is a trait that most Americans consider to be backwards and old fashioned.

I personally would not abandon my parents in a nursing home. If they were on their death beds, then perhaps a local hospice would be acceptable and I would still visit them as much as possible (3 days out of the week at the very least I would say.) These people who don't want to take care of their parents because it's inconvenient or it might make take away money that they were planning to buy a new Porsche with are selfish in a way that makes them lower than animals.

And on another point, I think it's better to visit more than twice a year if you live in the same country. Friends, jobs, diversions, and problems come and go, but your family is always there. I think it's very important to keep strong ties with your family, or else you are a worthless failure as a human being.

Stuff.

Dream world (4.50 / 2) (#41)
by finial on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 10:00:23 AM EST

I personally would not abandon my parents in a nursing home. If they were on their death beds, then perhaps a local hospice would be acceptable and I would still visit them as much as possible (3 days out of the week at the very least I would say.)

This is unrealistic. In the first place, "abandonment" is a mischaracterisation. While, certainly, some people do abandon their parents in homes and elsewhere, by and large, this is not the case. Suppose your parent had a stroke and needs 24-hour care. Can you do it? Do you have the medical background to handle a an incontinent person who is also unable to feed him or herself? If you parent is wheelchair bound, can your home be made handicapped accessible? Can you afford to do it? If your parent is not wheelchair bound but can not climb stairs, can you afford to put another bedroom and handicap accessible bathroom on the first floor? Are you in a condo? Does it have an elevator? Do you live on the first floor? Are you willing to sell your place to relocate on a first floor? What are you going to do for work when you're providing the 24-hour care? Are you willing to retrain as a physical therapist?

It's not so simple as to claim that a nursing home is "abandonment."

And if you are only willing to visit them "3 days out of the week" when they're "on their deathbeds," what are you going to do if they are incapacitated but nowhere near death? Even with a massive stroke, you can live for another 20 years or more.



[ Parent ]
That's not even what the article is about. (3.00 / 2) (#45)
by theboz on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 10:57:04 AM EST

I don't think that the article and my comments were in reference to is not the people who are deathly ill and require 24/7 medical support. It's about people who are old and incapable of taking care of themselves, but are not far enough gone to need to be in a hospital.

As far as the comments about being able to provide medical care, if it's nothing more than giving them medicine and knowing when to call an ambulance in the case of an emergency, certainly that is not out of the reach of most people. If your house is not wheelchair accesible, you could move, or you could simply make it that way. These sorts of things are not difficult, and have taken place within my family to help the elderly. For example, my aunt is adding on to her house so my grandmother can move in. Money is not really an issue, because my grandmother is selling her house to help pay for the renovations. On my stepfather's family, his mom is in really bad shape. They have a two story house, with a very steep stairway. She is incapable of walking without a walker, and even that is only good for short distances. However, while her husband is in good health they will continue to live there, so the family has helped to set up the downstairs to be able to be comfortable for her, and a nurse is going to start visiting weekly, or more if necessary.

The point is that it's not always easy, but most people seem to not even try anymore. It's just the decent thing to do to try and help, even if it means a certain level of inconvenience for you. I'd much rather eat top ramen for a month so I could afford to build a downstairs bathroom so my mom could move in if she couldn't walk. I'd definitely move to a different house if I had to in order to take care of my parents. I don't think most people would be willing to make those sorts of sacrifices.

And as far as my 3 days out of the week that I mentioned, that would be a minimum, but I doubt I would limit myself to that. I think it's dishonest to put it in a way that I would limit myself to only visiting them 3 days a week if they were on their deathbeds. But, I could concieve that someone with kids, a busy job, and perhaps other responsibilities would not be able to visit their loved ones more than 3 days a week in that case. In my present condition I would be able to visit them daily, for long periods of time.

Anyways, the point is not the people that really are unable to care for their elderly loved ones; it's the ones that claim to be unable but in truth are unwilling.

Stuff.
[ Parent ]

Rare (4.00 / 1) (#47)
by finial on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 11:30:17 AM EST

I only went by what was said:

I personally would not abandon my parents in a nursing home. [full stop] If they were on their death beds, then perhaps a local hospice would be acceptable

Sorry if I misunderstood.

I still think that "abandonment" is rare. It's well publicised and makes a great movie of the week, but, given that it's not an otherwise disfunctional family, I think it's very rare.



[ Parent ]
A culture of pioneers (1.00 / 1) (#40)
by Scrymarch on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 09:46:12 AM EST

Was it Davy Crockett who, upon looking out his window and seeing chimney smoke from another house, said "Well, there goes the neighbourhood." (or similar)?

I wonder if leaving the old folks is related to the American pioneering tradition.

To expound (none / 0) (#100)
by Scrymarch on Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 10:08:04 AM EST

... I did not mean this offensively. Australia also has a tradition of both pioneers and abandoning people in retirement homes. It was a serious question.

[ Parent ]
Having children makes you appreciate parents (none / 0) (#42)
by georgeha on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 10:36:49 AM EST

I ended up living in the same city as my parents. It was nice before we had kids, but essential now that we do. They take Alli every Sunday, and Mary and I live for those few hours alone.

If we moved to a different city, it would be very hard until we found good babysitters.

White Suburban Problem Only? Or More? (4.50 / 2) (#43)
by StephenFuqua on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 10:48:52 AM EST

  1. Thank you for the article and comments everyone. Very interesting discussion, which to me really captures the essence of the importance of a forum like this. Most everything that gets +1 FP has some interest and relevance, but discussions like this stand out to me. I wouldn't want every article to be this deep, but I am certainly glad there are some.
  2. While reading this, I was suddenly struck by this question: is this a white problem? The demographics described clearly represent a protypical European-American family better than they represent minority families in the U.S. Is there anyone hear qualified to comment on this? The "geriatric problem" has been commented on to some degree for years. Yet I've always had the feeling that the articles were talking about distinctly suburban issues, which, as we all know, largely translates to white issues. So, my question is, are minority (African-American, Latino, Asian-American, First Peoples) elderly treated as poorly as suburban white elderly?
  3. Actually, I'd now like to extend that question: are poor white elderly treated as poorly as suburban white elderly? For instance, the South is fairly poor. Does this problem describe the East and West coasts and scattered metropolises in between only, or does it include the poorer South and other areas of the nation?


It's not much of an issue in nonwhite cultures. (5.00 / 2) (#51)
by la princesa on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 12:04:45 PM EST

Most of the time, the poorer ethnicities can't even afford to consider nursing homes, so that usually doesn't crop up. Also, there's either a cultural expectation that one care for one's parents (however, it's generally bound to an expectation that parents help out their offspring THROUGHOUT life, so there's definitely a strong element of 'you scratch my back i'll scratch yours' in there) or due to single-motheritis, grandparents and other relatives end up caring for the kids, which is a variant of the mutual reciprocation thing. If gramma raised me, I'd help her out since she had no choice in my birth and simply chose to be a cool person and take care of me. If mommy raises me, well, she chose to bear me and it's only reasonable she meet her responsibilities (daddy should too, but this is in the single mother case.) Anyway, this idea that choosing not to care for one's parents in old age is evil or cruel or a travesty is melodramatic. People in supposedly free america should be able to choose that option freely without being ostracized for their choice because someone else thinks every child should care for every parent (which of course leaves anyone who doesn't bear a kid out of luck in old age, but apparently that's perfectly ok or something.)

[ Parent ]
You lack credibility, conscience... (2.33 / 3) (#65)
by sasha on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 04:36:04 PM EST

I don't think a civilised audience to this debate should entertain bigoted, conjectural generalisations like:

Most of the time, the poorer ethnicities can't even afford to consider nursing homes, so that usually doesn't crop up.

What you are trying to say is perfectly clear, but the way you say it is extremely untactful, and will not help you advance your point.

Anyway, this idea that choosing not to care for one's parents in old age is evil or cruel or a travesty is melodramatic.

Certainly, and you aren't required to accept the burden. But the roots of the problem must be recognised - and must be a factor in your decision on whether or not to care for your parents. Rugged individualism and rabid materialism are ultimately what lead to this fiery breakdown of the family apparatus. I am no sociologist or philosopher - I can't eloquently trace the problem's historical roots. But suffice to say, this is why it exists. People are forgetting that your friends, your kinsmen, come first - the people who are going through life with you. Only second is career, wealth, and 'getting ahead.' This drone logic (absence of it, rather) that deems it the opposite true is the catalyst that unravels the cohesion of American microsociety.


--- Signal SIGSIG received. Signature too long.
[ Parent ]

It's not about some supposed 'lack of conscience'. (5.00 / 1) (#69)
by la princesa on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 05:29:12 PM EST

I don't think a civilised audience to this debate should entertain bigoted, conjectural generalisations like:

Most of the time, the poorer ethnicities can't even afford to consider nursing homes, so that usually doesn't crop up.

What you are trying to say is perfectly clear, but the way you say it is extremely untactful, and will not help you advance your point.

What other way is there to say that some ethnicities have a higher percentage of people who lack the household worth or net income to consider an option like nursing homes, which tend to be not cheap? In America, aside from a few asian groups, most nonwhites are more likely to be poorer. It's not 'uncivilised' or tactless to remark on a simple fact of american culture.

But the roots of the problem must be recognised - and must be a factor in your decision on whether or not to care for your parents. Rugged individualism and rabid materialism are ultimately what lead to this fiery breakdown of the family apparatus.

Choosing not to care for one's parents is not a problem, and it is a shame that anyone would think someone else's choices to be such. The family hasn't broken down. Not every culture had collective familial structures like you seem to believe are the only viable or worthwhile families in the world. Raising a child and having that child opt not to care for one in one's old age doesn't mean the parent failed or that the child has reneged on their supposed duty. It means only that the child chose not to help, nothing more or less. And as the child is not obligated to do so, there really isn't any sort of problem. What you perhaps should be more concerned with is the failure of so many people to plan ahead for childbearing and old age, thus resulting in attempts to force others into caring for them gratis.



[ Parent ]

it's a choice (4.00 / 1) (#78)
by crayz on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 08:20:28 PM EST

Parents choose to have kids. Because of that choice, they are obligated to support the kids.

Kids, OTOH, did not get a choice in the matter. To demand that people to give up what for many would be some of the best years of their lives(if they enjoy the empty nest) trying to provide for the medical needs of their parents is simply unfair and unreasonable. Individuals can make that decision for themselves. But if many decide that they do not want such a burden, I really don't think you are in much of a position to criticize them.

[ Parent ]
Yup, I agree (none / 0) (#103)
by Merc on Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 01:35:38 PM EST

If kids want to put up with the parents, if it is worth the time and effort for them, they're free to do it. If they feel a personal debt to their parents for taking care of them when they were kids, they can take their parents in to pay them back. But a parent should never burden their kids with this responsibility. It should be each person's duty to take care of themselves.



[ Parent ]
Ehh, "first peoples" historically, or to (none / 0) (#62)
by libertine on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 03:53:03 PM EST

You are talking about groups of people who were spread across a space more than 3 times the size of Europe. So, there are going to be differences. "First peoples" in California had about 350 distinctly different languages and national groupings, as an example.

If you are speaking historically, it would depend on the culture/nation you were referring to. Lakota/Dakota/Nakota used to let their old folks wander off when they got too old to keep up with their movements. Hopi and Navajo took care of their old folks all the way through death. It just depends.

However, I don't think that any of these ways of doing things apply in the modern world. There may be a difference between some people on the reservations and how they deal with their old ones versus those who are not part of the reservation cultures, but I think that is a matter of societal structure being slightly different. Meaning, of course, that off the res the choices are going to be the same for just about everyone in a nuclear family setting.




"Live for lust. Lust for life."
[ Parent ]

You miss the greater point, I think. (4.00 / 3) (#52)
by ghjm on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 12:18:03 PM EST

The real issue is that in its quest for individualism, the U.S. has abandoned any notion of the community. You've heard the saying, "it takes a village to raise a child," right? Well, it takes a village to care for an elder, also.

These days, when a married couple have children, they often find that there is absolutely no support structure to draw on for assistance. Family and friends, if any are available and in-town to begin with, tend to vanish when the question of babysitting comes up for discussion. Paid babysitting may be out of reach financially for a struggling young couple. Single parents are even worse off - honestly, I just don't understand how they do it. Some of them don't; some people snap under the pressure, with various undesirable outcomes. Others distance themselves emotionally from their children, to save their own sanity. Most struggle through somehow, because that's what people do.

It wasn't always like this; a couple generations ago, it was normal and expected that you would watch your neighbor's kids for a while if Mom needed to go pick up some groceries or whatever. The burden of being a parent - and make no mistake, it is a tremendous burden - was shared across a large number of people, and thus lightened for everybody. This also allowed people to gain some experience with children before having kids of their own, and it created a shared baseline understanding of what constituted acceptable behavior for kids.

So, in today's world, Mom and Dad escape from the oppressive burden of unassisted parenthood in their mid- to late-40s. They have spent the better part of twenty years unable to do the things they want to do because of their parental responsibilities, but now their children are grown and, for the most part, doing well. Mom and Dad do some traveling, go out whenever they want to, and generally have a great time. Five years later, Grandma and/or Granddad want to put Mom and Dad back under the yoke for, given current medical technology, perhaps another twenty years - very likely consuming the final remaining 'good' years that Mom and Dad have left.

Nope. Not gonna happen. Particularly since Mom and Dad still bear some pretty heavy resentment towards Grandma and Granddad, who for their part spent the past twenty years traveling the world and enjoying their leisure instead of babysitting Junior One and Junior Two. And Mom and Dad have hardly failed to notice what happened to Great-Granddad.

-Graham

It doesn't take a village to raise a child. (3.25 / 8) (#57)
by la princesa on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 01:03:36 PM EST

It takes a person holding off on the child raising until they can provide for that child themselves, without needing to resort to welfare or a husband/wife. If one can raise a kid to one's own standards independently, likely at that point one is together enough in one's life to be a pretty decent parent alone or partnered. At least the odds are better than being 19 and pregnant working at Sears caterwauling about how the community should help one care for the kid.

The real issue is that in its quest for individualism, the U.S. has abandoned any notion of the community.

No it hasn't. What it has instead is the notion of non-enforced community. That is, people helping each other out because they think it's a good idea, not because of social coercion.

These days, when a married couple have children, they often find that there is absolutely no support structure to draw on for assistance. Family and friends, if any are available and in-town to begin with, tend to vanish when the question of babysitting comes up for discussion. Paid babysitting may be out of reach financially for a struggling young couple. Single parents are even worse off - honestly, I just don't understand how they do it. Some of them don't; some people snap under the pressure, with various undesirable outcomes. Others distance themselves emotionally from their children, to save their own sanity. Most struggle through somehow, because that's what people do.

If the couple had maybe tried waiting until they had enough pennies together to afford daycare, they wouldn't have to hit up relatives who definitely aren't obligated to cover anyone else's failure to plan. Honestly, if the couple is struggling, why the hell are they having a child? Kids are bloody expensive, and nobody has a duty to have them when one cannot afford their care. I'm not against helping others out if one wishes to, but I am against this idea that as far as family goes, somehow the blood tie supercedes common sense and reasonableness.

Maybe the relatives have their own kids to care for. Why should they have to take on anyone else's just because it's relatives? And as for the friends, friendship isn't about milking your friends for free childcare because you couldn't hold off having a kid til you had some damn money together. People should stop jumping into childbearing on this supposition that others are 'sposed' to cover their unpreparedness. Trying to force others to care for one due to lack of planning for old age is nearly as bad, but at least then there's less risk of a child growing up poor or neglected or otherwise ill-raised.

It wasn't always like this; a couple generations ago, it was normal and expected that you would watch your neighbor's kids for a while if Mom needed to go pick up some groceries or whatever. The burden of being a parent - and make no mistake, it is a tremendous burden - was shared across a large number of people, and thus lightened for everybody.

Latchkey kids have been around forever, including a couple generations ago. Kids also did hard labor at 12 back then. Being a parent was a burden then and now partly because people failed to hold off a bit and plan a little. Fewer kids would be better if thought and consideration went into their bearing, which still isn't the case today and definitely wasn't then. A lot of kids ended up in orphanages or were given up for adoption when relatives and friends weren't willing to care for the kids back then.

So, in today's world, Mom and Dad escape from the oppressive burden of unassisted parenthood in their mid- to late-40s. If it's so oppressive, why'd they do it again? To breed some elder-care workers for when they hit 70? They could have avoided this horrible burden and bought pretty good health care with the money instead.

They have spent the better part of twenty years unable to do the things they want to do because of their parental responsibilities, but now their children are grown and, for the most part, doing well.

Mom and Dad didn't have to have kids. There is absolutely no reason anyone on this planet NEEDS to have kids. None. So if they couldn't do what they wished and feel that bad about it, they should maybe not have entered into the childbearing situation.

Mom and Dad do some traveling, go out whenever they want to, and generally have a great time. Five years later, Grandma and/or Granddad want to put Mom and Dad back under the yoke for, given current medical technology, perhaps another twenty years - very likely consuming the final remaining 'good' years that Mom and Dad have left.

Nope. Not gonna happen. Particularly since Mom and Dad still bear some pretty heavy resentment towards Grandma and Granddad, who for their part spent the past twenty years traveling the world and enjoying their leisure instead of babysitting Junior One and Junior Two. And Mom and Dad have hardly failed to notice what happened to Great-Granddad.

If mom and dad are so resentful over relatives choosing not to care for their children (which again, is not a choice they should be penalised for in any fashion), maybe the grandparents should seek elder care another way. Either Mom and Dad are selfish for expecting their grandparents to babysit just because they're relatives, or the grandparents are selfish for expecting elder care from mom and dad while opting not to help out with their children. At any rate, in either case, both are wrong, because one shouldn't be try to make people do anything. Being nice and helpful generally isn't bad, and usually means people will be likely to help one out lateron, and it should never be an obligation, only an option to take or cast aside as one wishes.

[ Parent ]

I disagree (4.00 / 1) (#86)
by Dlugar on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 10:34:56 PM EST

No it hasn't. What it has instead is the notion of non-enforced community. That is, people helping each other out because they think it's a good idea, not because of social coercion.
From what I've seen, from my own neighbourhoods I've lived in to those I've only seen heard about or visited, there is almost zero sense of community. So if your hypothesis is correct, then "nobody thinks it's a good idea to help each other out," in which case the original poster is correct saying that we've abandoned the notion of community.

Also, I think you and a number of posters are misunderstanding what I think the parent comment was saying. You seem to be of the notion that "nobody is required to help out those who chose to have children," and that is indeed correct ... but do you not agree that raising children would be a more productive task if there were more of a sense of community?

Dlugar

[ Parent ]
What is community? (none / 0) (#93)
by aphrael on Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 02:36:00 AM EST

No, i'm serious; it's not just a rhetorical. I don't know my neighbors. I know some of the people I work with, but I don't feel close to them --- we're on a team, and there's a bond there, but at the end of the day, we have very different lives. But I do have a community; friends I have met, and their friends whom I think are cool and who think i'm cool; a network that spans people both in my town and throughout the greater bay area.

Does community have to imply neighborhoods? Or is that sense of geographical limitation something that has passed with time?

[ Parent ]

That, I think, is the crux of the matter. (none / 0) (#112)
by Dlugar on Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 07:43:36 PM EST

At one point in time, travel and communication was very limited. Hence, one's family was the central focus point of all life. Some areas became towns, and there was a strong sense of community, since you hardly traveled anywhere else or communicated with those outside of your small neighbourhood.

Fast-forward to today, when I'm able to talk around the world via mediums such as the Internet (e.g. Kuro5hin), I go to school thirty miles away, and am able to work on-line for companies without even stepping into their office buildings. Hence, the "community" is, as you say, a network that spans not only towns and areas, but even the whole world. And as communication and travel gets faster, it will become even more so.

Hence, those people in our physical neighbourhoods have become quite neglected. That particular sense of community is lost. And I think there's something to be said for that sense of community. When you're quite young, you can't drive anywhere, and having friends nearby is kind of nice. [Schools and busing systems have somewhat usurped this role, though, as well.] And your best friend across the world, even though you might talk to him every night, can't watch your kids when you have to go out shopping, or easily loaf around the neighbourhood with you, or sit on the front porch and talk as you listen to the wind rustle the leaves in the trees.

But on the other hand, we've gained a lot from the "global community". For example, I could find a lot more people who think basically the same way I do on Kuro5hin than I could within five miles on either side of my neighbourhood.

So basically we've switched one community for another, less physical and I would say even less tight-knit community. I suppose everyone has to make his or her own judgement call as to whether this is a "good thing" or not. But it is change.

Dlugar

[ Parent ]
Oh no. (1.00 / 1) (#63)
by sasha on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 04:15:35 PM EST

Believe me, I haven't missed this point.

Perhaps my article did, but I think I did well enough in alluding to it.

Just let me assure you, this truth hasn't escaped me, personally.


--- Signal SIGSIG received. Signature too long.
[ Parent ]

There ain't no village, sonny! (4.50 / 2) (#71)
by greydmiyu on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 06:19:10 PM EST

You've heard the saying, "it takes a village to raise a child," right?

Yes, normally by breeders (not parents) (AKA BNPs) that want everyone else to indulge their child's every whim but heaven forbid the villager that ever wants to scold or punish the child for doing something wrong. So yes, I've heard of the saying and know it is a load of crock.

These days, when a married couple have children, they often find that there is absolutely no support structure to draw on for assistance.

As opposed to, say, the unmarried couple? Presumption of marriage, not a good way to start that argument. Be that as it may they chose to have that child, not their parents, not their friends, not their extended family. Amazingly enough we, as humans in general, do know quite well what causes children and we can chose not to have them. Expecting others to help you in something that is completely voluntary is quite selfish.

Paid babysitting may be out of reach financially for a struggling young couple.

Since you're fond of the saying "It takes a village to raise a child" I retort to this statement with one that is more valid on the order of several magnitudes. Can't feed 'em, don't breed 'em. Plain and simple, if a "struggling young couple" chose to have a child at an inappropriate time, why should they expect anyone at all to bail them out of that bad decision? They could have held off until "struggling" was out of the picture.

The burden of being a parent - and make no mistake, it is a tremendous burden - was shared across a large number of people, and thus lightened for everybody.

Burden or not, their choice. Besides in today's breeder-centric America most BNPs are perfectly willing to offload their hellions on someone else but won't abide by the proper restraint and restrictions that person would place on the child. Cuts both ways. If people expect oterhs to watch their children they are also going to have to give those people the ability to dicipline said child. This is where the village breaks down, not with people rightfully refusing to "watch" the child but being unable to "control" the child when the child does something clearly wrong.

Mom and Dad do some traveling, go out whenever they want to,

The time for that was before their choice to have children, not after.

Particularly since Mom and Dad still bear some pretty heavy resentment towards Grandma and Granddad, who for their part spent the past twenty years traveling the world and enjoying their leisure instead of babysitting Junior One and Junior Two.

As was their perogative. They didn't decide to have the children. They are not reponsible for said children.

You're drawing a lot of connections which simply break down when you understand one simple fact. There are no roving gangs of feral sperm randomly accosting women as they go about their lives and impregnating them. To have a child is a choice. The couple chose to have unprotected sex, off birth-control, with both members not steralized or infertile. They then chose to keep the child and not abort, put up for adoption, what have you. Noone else related to them through blood, marriage, friendship or geographical proximity should be automatically bound to that child because of that couple's choice. If they are unable to raise the child either on their own or with the informed backing (not the presume and unspoken "obligation") of their friends, family, et al then they should not be doing the nasty without adiquate protection and the willingness to deal with the consiquences.

And for the record, I do practice what I preach. Several months ago I got a vasectomy. I have no children and do not intend to sire any children. I made my choice and took appropriate steps to that end. Total cost to me for the 20 minute, out patient procedure. $10. Look-up sometime what it takes to raise a child. If these young couples are "struggling" then it makes simple finacial sense to spend $10 for birth control (vas/tubal through co-pay insurance, a pack of condoms, whatever) than to bring a child into their "struggling" situation.


--
Grey d'Miyu
Not just another pretty color


[ Parent ]
Consequences for society (5.00 / 2) (#80)
by mech9t8 on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 08:50:46 PM EST

Plain and simple, if a "struggling young couple" chose to have a child at an inappropriate time, why should they expect anyone at all to bail them out of that bad decision?

Well, the problem is, is it a good idea to punish the children for having dumbass parents?

The argument goes that people who have children irresponsibly are more likely to raise children irresponsibly... and, given equal inherit abilities, the children of irresponsible parents are more likely to become irresponsible adults than the children of responsible parents. Hence the cases of 26 year old grandmothers.

So, while I agree on the pure basis of responsibility, the society has no obligation to deal with the children of irresponsible parents, it just makes sense, for the good of the community, to give a damn about them - even if one totally disagrees with the parents' decision to have them.

And on a moral level, as much as it might be desired to punish the parents for being irresponsible, one must be careful not the punish the kid, who's just a victim in this whole situation.

--
IMHO
[ Parent ]

Unfortunately... (none / 0) (#94)
by greydmiyu on Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 03:42:09 AM EST

Well, the problem is, is it a good idea to punish the children for having dumbass parents?

So instead you're saying we should punish the immediate family on the "struggling young couple" instead? Why? What did they do to deserve such punishment? Their neighbors should be punished as well? Coworkers?

It's a crappy situation all around and there is no simple answer. It is very easy to say "Well we (collective) should do something" without realizing that "we" must, by design, means that some individuals are going to bear the burden of the "punishment". How, then, do you choose who bears that burden? Under what definition does one person have to take care of someone else's responsibility because they are unwilling or unable to and the person standing next to them does not?

When you take a look at it from that end the waters are quite muddy.


-- Grey d'Miyu, not just another pretty color.
[ Parent ]
Okay... (3.00 / 1) (#84)
by ghjm on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 09:59:36 PM EST

Your idea seems to be:

- If I make a choice, I must accept any and all consequences of that choice;

- If something happens that I did not choose, I have no responsibility whatever for it.

Given this, the answer to the original article is completely clear: You have no responsibility whatever to care for your elderly parents, since you didn't choose to have them.

If you see the world in that sort of black and white fashion, then there's really nothing to discuss. However, I submit to you that your views are 100% individualist, and 0% collectivist; and that there are many people who don't see the world in these terms.

-Graham

[ Parent ]
Welcome to adulthood. (none / 0) (#95)
by greydmiyu on Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 03:57:12 AM EST

If I make a choice, I must accept any and all consequences of that choice;

That's exactly what being growed up means. Taking responsibility for one's own actions. Contrary to what the many nanny states would want people to believe.

Given this, the answer to the original article is completely clear: You have no responsibility whatever to care for your elderly parents, since you didn't choose to have them.

In my view, correct. Just because they bore you doesn't mean anything. However in good parenting one comes to respect their parents and as such is more inclined to help their parents when their parents are in need. There is a difference between doing something because one must and doing something because one should. I believe one should take care of elderly parents if they have the means. I don't think people must do so if they choose not to, regardless of why they choose not to.

If you see the world in that sort of black and white fashion, then there's really nothing to discuss. However, I submit to you that your views are 100% individualist, and 0% collectivist; and that there are many people who don't see the world in these terms.

That is exactly why we have so many problems in this world, especially when it comes to parenting, eldercare, religious fanatacism and the icecapades. Because entirely too many people think that someone else should take care of them while they want to tell everyone else how they should run their lives. The problem is it is harder and harder to find people who actually do take care of things rather than defer to someone else because someone else should do something.

I can hear the wheels turning. "But," you might say, "In that case doesn't that mean the child should take care of their elderly instead of deferring to someone else (retirement homes)?" For that statement to work one has to presume that retirement homes, which are paid for by the children, is not a form of taking care of the elderly. Deferring would be doing nothing at all and letting the state take care of the elderly. Retirement homes may not be the ideal situation but it is far better than homelessness. In the end, though, nothing escapes the fact that it is the responsbility of the parent to ensure their livlihood in their waining years. If they had done so in the first place they would not have to defer to their children in the hopes that their children are still alive, still care, still want to even associate with them, still have the time and the money to take care of them.

Might that be why whenever young people are hired into companies over, say, 20-30 employees the hiring staff usually stresses the importance of saving as much as possible as soon as possible?


-- Grey d'Miyu, not just another pretty color.
[ Parent ]
The truest line in this story: (3.87 / 8) (#53)
by ennui on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 12:18:21 PM EST

"This should be a diary entry." I don't need to see something on the front page of K5 telling me what my obligations and duties are towards my family, especially from somebody who thinks they've had an epiphany after some coffeeshop philosophy and couch meditation on a subject that just isn't as simple as "take care of your parents, they took care of you."

Furthermore, this is another in the disturbing line of opinion articles that look like they were inspired by somebody with an agenda in the front of the room saying "write a 2 page essay about how you think your parents should be taken care of when they can't take care of themselves" and then somebody gunning for the 'A' rewords and drivels back utopian opinions on the matter and decides to post their plaintive tripe and pseudo-opinions on the web somewhere, thank god it's usually blogs and not here.

-1 if I had been there to give it.


"You can get a lot more done with a kind word and a gun, than with a kind word alone." -- Al Capone
Benefits of a Community (5.00 / 2) (#59)
by Hobbes2100 on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 01:54:51 PM EST

This is a topic fairly near to my heart for a couple of reasons:

1) My parents are significantly older than most of my friends' parents. So, this issue seems to stare me in the face.

2) My sister has held several positions dealing with the elderly (ran a nursing home, ran an Alzheimer's Disease care facility, is now a part-time pastor at a church where the main responsibility is visiting shut-in members of the congregation). She really "has a heart" to care for the elderly (if the positions don't show it, take my word for it ... she CARES).

So, I say all that to say that I've thought about this quite a bit and I've come to the conclusion that having mom and dad living at home with me (and me taking care of them) would not be in their best interests (or my own). We've talked about the issues that I (as a care giver) would face, so I'll comment about the issues they would face:

The biggest concern for me is that they would stop developing socially. If they are to the point where "going out" is a chore and they choose not to, they are simply going to be sad, lonely people. I honestly believe that a nursing home / retirement community is one of the best things for older people because it keeps them socially active (now, there is also the issue that some of these places are run incompetently and not by caring individuals ... to this I'll simply say that just b/c your parents are in a place like this doesn't mean you should not take an active interest in them ... sort of like sending your kids to school ... you keep up with what they are doing, who their teachers are, etc.).

The other big issue for me is that I may not be qualified to give the type of care they need. I may also __literally__ not have the time they need. For example, if I have a family, kids, job, and house, then I have many responsibilities that take up my time (and no, I don't consider K5 posting a responsibility). If my parents would need regular physical activity (or physical therapy) there could be a problem. Will I be responsible for making sure their medications are all inorder? Some of these issues could be addressed by having a nurse (or other medical type) stop by on some schedule, but it does need to be dealt with.

A final issue for the parents is what are they going to think about potentially "living at home" with their children. I know many folks who are just too damn proud to do that. Of course, I'd have to imagine that many (perhaps a majority) of elderly folk wouldn't mind, but this is all hearsay until there is some scientific inquiry.

Regards,
Mark
Sed quis custodiet ipsos custodes? --Iuvenalis
But who will guard the guardians themselves? -- Juvenal
Living with parents (or vice versa) (none / 0) (#126)
by BehTong on Mon Oct 29, 2001 at 10:36:33 PM EST

A final issue for the parents is what are they going to think about potentially "living at home" with their children. I know many folks who are just too damn proud to do that. Of course, I'd have to imagine that many (perhaps a majority) of elderly folk wouldn't mind, but this is all hearsay until there is some scientific inquiry.

Well, I didn't grow up in North America, so I'm not sure how relevant this is... but in my culture, it's normal for elderly parents to live with their kids. In fact, they like to live with their kids and grandkids. I, for one, grew up in the same house as my grandparents, and very close with my grandmother. And my dad still lives with my granddad today. I know this is probably quite foreign to North American culture :-) But honestly, what keeps my granddad (and grandma before she passed) going was all the relatives close by, or living in the same place.

Before my grandmother passed, she had a stroke and was confined to a wheelchair. There was no way for her to go out and "socialize" or whatever you call it, etc.. What kept her going was all the family around her who's with her 24/7, and whom she can relate to. I just can't imagine how she would've made it through if she weren't around her children and grandchildren -- it's just hard to imagine her managing without the people she's closest to all her life. Put her in a nursing home, and she'd just pine away in misery. Even if it was the best nursing home. Why? Simply because you can't just pluck a person from the family she has known and loved for most of her life, and expect her to adapt well to a place run by strangers. Even if the strangers are professionals and caring and whatnot, they are still strangers. One just doesn't adapt very quickly (if at all, at that age) to new people, no matter how good/caring.

So, I don't know how well this reflects North American (or European?) culture, but at least as far as *my* grandparents and parents are concerned, living with their children is probably something they want and not merely tolerate.

Beh Tong Kah Beh Si!
[ Parent ]

lacking clue (4.37 / 8) (#60)
by iGrrrl on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 02:28:40 PM EST

Easy for me to say, the armchair idealist.
Yep.
I'm far too young ...,
...to have any real life experience with the situation. Maybe your cynical view of how the elderly have been "abandoned" is true for some specific cases, but as the previous comments have pointed out, there are plenty of counter-examples.

My mother-in-law tested her own strength and the strength of her marriage by trying to care for her declining mother. Eventually the mother suggested assisted living, not because she wanted to go, but she could finally see what was happening to her daughter. Guess what? The mother is happier and healthier in an assisted living facility. She is less depressed, less anxious, & etc. And as a bonus, her daughter gets to be her daughter again, instead of her caregiver and pill police.

Lately Alzhiemer's disease has begun to claim more of her personality and memory. She can claim her daughter hasn't visited today not five minutes after my mother-in-law leaves. People with dementia are not accurate reporters.

I cared for my mother and my step-father through the last days of their lives -- at home with Hospice. The time for each was relatively short, and I managed it. I don't know whether I could have done it longer and still done it well.

Deal with the situation yourself, sasha, and then pontificate.

--
You cannot have a reasonable conversation with someone who regards other people as toys to be played with. localroger
remove apostrophe for email.

In some ways you're lucky. (none / 0) (#92)
by aphrael on Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 02:32:39 AM EST

I cared for my mother and my step-father through the last days of their lives -- at home with Hospice

I didn't. I was 24, just barely out of college, starting to get my life together, with no love life and only a few close friends. I didn't drive, so I would have had to stay with my mother and her husband --- her emotionally abusive husband who refused to let her help me get to college when i was 17 because he didn't think i was responsible and wanted to be sure that he wouldn't be held responsible for anything i did. I couldn't do it; I couldn't go live with him, and take care of her, and be 500 miles away from the limited support network i had.

I know that it would have torn me apart. But I still feel guilty for it. *sigh*

[ Parent ]

I was lucky (5.00 / 1) (#99)
by iGrrrl on Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 08:27:25 AM EST

I had no child, was in graduate school, had a supportive partner, you name it. Anything that could have made it easier, I was lucky enough to have, including great support. Thank Universe, and thank you for reminding me to be grateful.

My counter story is that I had very little to do with my father during his last days. He was abusive (to put years of history into one word), and in retrospect I think a bit insane. Had he been alive and in the house when my mother was ill, rather than my step-father, I don't know that I could or would have done as much as I did for her.

All of that being too many words for the point. That being: I know what you mean.

--
You cannot have a reasonable conversation with someone who regards other people as toys to be played with. localroger
remove apostrophe for email.
[ Parent ]

Economic Realities (4.00 / 1) (#61)
by duckbill on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 02:37:05 PM EST

Your opinion is well written; however, I think your conclusion is missing two important pieces of data. First, in many cases, there is not a choice for the family. The real wages of families is decreasing. Most modern families have both parents working more than forty hours per week. If one of the family members quits work to take care of an elder, they can't afford to feed themselves, their kids, or their parents. In these situations, getting outside care is the only option. Sometimes getting enough money for a private nurse is impossible. In these cases, you have to seek a managed care facility so the economy of scale places the care in an affordability range. This is the only way you can take care of your responsibility to the entire family. I am fortunate in that I do not have to deal with this problem. My parents are still in good health. If they wanted me to care for them, we (may) could manage to make this happen. Even so, I don't think the retirement communities of today are like the nursing homes from yesterday. Some of my friends have had to follow this path. They could afford to take in their parents, or place them in a community where help was available. In many cases, they chose the latter for what seem to be the best possible reasons. Although they cost more than the typical nursing homes, many retirement communities provide spacious living, meal plans, and extracurricular activities in addition to having immediate response health care. The environment is not much different than the resident having their own home with a nurse and butler. In addition, if many of their friends choose (choose being the operative word) to settle in the same communities. Their social opportunities actually increase because they do not have to worry about transportation logistics. If one's parent did not want this environment, and the child was fiscally able to take care of them, I would agree. There may be some since of abandonment if you forced the parent into the community.

standard of living (5.00 / 1) (#70)
by bigdavex on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 06:12:43 PM EST

First, in many cases, there is not a choice for the family. The real wages of families is decreasing. Most modern families have both parents working more than forty hours per week. If one of the family members quits work to take care of an elder, they can't afford to feed themselves, their kids, or their parents.
Over the course of the century, I doubt that real wages are decreasing. The standard of living that we consider normal has just increased. Consider multiple vehicles, microwaves, home computers, TVs (plural), and cell phones. Those are, historically speaking, wildly luxurious.

[ Parent ]
Eh... (none / 0) (#101)
by core10k on Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 01:17:59 PM EST

Those are by and large one-time expenses with very small monthly 'upkeep charges.' Manufactured products are significantly different from the cost of labour of human beings - little trinkets might be easier to afford, but that 5-person band for your wedding isn't.

[ Parent ]
5 person band??? (none / 0) (#132)
by triticale on Thu Nov 01, 2001 at 10:59:44 PM EST

A five person band for a wedding is so far removed from "cost of living" in my mind as to be incomprehensible. We had an 8 person _wedding_ and in another 7 weeks it will have been 29 years that it will have done the job. My son's wedding was somewhat larger, but the total direct expense, including the bride's wedding gown, came to about $500.

Throughout most of our marriage, I was the sole wagee earner. My wife stayed home to look after the house, raise and homeschool our son, and for several years, care for her mother after a series of debilitating strokes. Although my income has never even matched the national mean, we have lived a life which we have found satisfying. I'd rather have a car with duct tape keeping the rain out than a high paying job which I hate.


[ Parent ]
Parenting, not breeding (3.60 / 5) (#67)
by greydmiyu on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 05:03:42 PM EST

Mom and Dad live in San Francisco, and Junior and Sis are in Charleston and New York

Or, like my father's family, out of 9 brothers and sisters 7 still live in the same town, 1 lives an hour away and only 1, my father, lives across the nation. The 8 that are within an hour (if not a 5 minute drive) from my grandparents take excellent care of them. They have not wanted for anything as they have several visits a day and often visit their children's homes quite often.

it shocks me what a vast percentage of families opt to do: They put them in a nursing home!

Care to cite your source or are you going purely on andecdotal information here?

Grandpa and grandma gave you life - they conceived you,

No, my parents conceived me. Furthermore the will not be grandparents as I am an only child and will not ever have children of my own. Even if I did they still would not be grandparents, they would be parents. My grandfather is not "grandpa" to my dad, he's dad. Please keep the terms correct.

he neglect of this responsibility amounts to an inhumane, parasitic lifestyle -- one that is so typical of middle-class, suburban career-men. Remember that when you are frail, when your hearing is gone, sight negligible so much that you cannot read, when your nerves are degenerating, cognitive abilities slipping away. Your children owe their lives to you.

This presumes we're going to have children. Almost 35% of women aged 25-35 have not had children. This figure is on the rise.

Interesting reading but as you can see you're making a lot of presumptions. You're presuming that things are hunky-dory and that these people are the rule, not the exception. My experience has been vastly different not only in my rather large extended family but also in the families of many friends that I have. Most of them are, as you put it, middle-class carrer-men (shock, horror, run for the hills!).

You've also touched on the rather guilt laden argument "they bore you!" Yes, and? Giving birth is a biological function. Take a look at the wild and how many baby critters are born each day of every year for the past several who knows how many years. It isn't special, it isn't unique, it isn't noteworthy. It is normal, plain and simple. We didn't ask or demand to be born. As others have pointed out, it is the raising that matters, not the bearing.

To illustrate this point one need only look at women like Andrea Yates, the murderer of her 5 children. Or the dozens of "parents" each year that "forget" their little bundles of joy in parked cars on warm days with the windows rolled up. They were perfectly capable breeding but utterly incapable of raising that which they bore. Meanwhile look at how many infertile adoptive parents there are. They are incapable of breeding but quite fine at raising these children.

It also touches on the very simple question of "who's going to care for you when you're old". Very simple answer which your post illustrates. Don't count on your children. You take care of yourself. Make plans now, set aside money so you may live in the manner yu choose. There are three reasons off the top of my head on why not to count on others to provide for you, especially a younger generation.

  • One can choose not to have children in the first place. There is no requirement to breed in this nation.
  • The children could be unable or unwilling to provide. Some people have claimed it is "easy". It is not easy. Furthermore, given the state of quite a few parents these days I don't think their parents would want to be in their care! I know I certainly would not.
  • One may outlive their children. Plain and simple, they die in some accident, attack, war, whatever. What then?

Finally I submit a simple answer to this problem. If these people had parented instead of breed maybe they would not be in that situation. Find a copy of "Cat's in the Cradle." I'm partial to the Ugly Kid Joe version but I'm a child of the 80s, what do I know. Give it a listen or read the lyrics. The point of the song is simple, parent your children and the'll parent you. Ignore your children and they'll ignore you.




-- Grey d'Miyu, not just another pretty color.
You misstate the Golden Rule (none / 0) (#72)
by tz on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 06:43:49 PM EST

It is "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you". It doesn't say anything about whether "they" were nice or nasty to you in the past, present, or future. The Law and the Prophets are summed up in that.

This is just to get definitions clear. You can make a case that it would be justice for you to act coldly to your mother in law years hence. But what happens if you divorce in a few years and your fiancee says "Mom was right about you"? Will it still be justice?


The above was a reply to the "Considerations& (none / 0) (#73)
by tz on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 06:47:00 PM EST

I clicked "Reply" but something between me and K5 got confused.

[ Parent ]
No. (none / 0) (#76)
by Desterado on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 07:51:22 PM EST

No, you are just high again.

You've got the flag, I've got your back.
[ Parent ]
None (4.00 / 2) (#83)
by marimba on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 09:25:10 PM EST

I haven't even read this yet. I will, but I want to respond to the title. I have no duty to my parents, nor does anyone else. I have a duty to those people who care for and about me. These may be your parents or they may not. My parents were up-apologetic violent abusers, up to and including rape. I have no obligation to care for them or about them. OK, I just skimmed the article and found this:

It is your absolute obligation and duty to your parents to reciprocate their immeasurable care when they need it most, in their final years
To reciprocate in my case would be to beat and demean them at every opportunity. I can't believe the author means this, so I'll just dismiss the whole idea as crap.



I disagree (4.66 / 3) (#87)
by Scandal on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 10:53:14 PM EST

I daresay your viewpoint is both limited and biased, sasha. There is a story behind every one of those little old ladies and little old gentlemen that you see in nursing homes. In some respects, I can see your point. Unfortunately, for those for whom the point is valid (those with strong ties to their parents), they will already know this. For everyone else, it simply isn't true, and there is no duty there.

My wife and I, with a two-year-old daughter, moved in with my in-laws so my wife could help take care of my ailing mother-in-law. She had Lou Gherig's disease (ALS -- amyotropic lateral sclerosis), which is characterized by a gradual loss of motor control, eventually resulting in death due to inability to breathe (or move anything at all).

Now, bear in mind that my mother-in-law mostly hated my wife and my father-in-law. Even so, we moved in to help because of "duty".

Most of the time my wife was in charge of taking care of my mother-in-law, it became a game between my daugther and my mother-in-law to try to have as much of my wife's attention as possible. I kid you not. My daughter would go off and get into things she shouldn't be in to get attention, and at any moment my wife was trying to tend to our daugther, my mother-in-law would make another demand ("move my pillow", "move my feet", "bring me water", etc., etc., etc.). Or my mother-in-law would make some demand, then wait until my wife returned to being seated, and then make another demand, requiring my wife to get up again to assist my mother-in-law -- when she could just as easily have made the request when my wife asked if there was anything else she could do. Never did my mother-in-law act in any way other than to suggest that she was the most important person in the environment, and to hell with everyone else (well, except her own son, whom she loved in her own way, but who was almost never around -- fancy that).

Not long before we finally moved out, I left my daughter with my mother-in-law in her bedroom, watching TV. My wife, my father-in-law, the live-in care-giver, and I were chatting briefly in the kitchen; I thought it might be nice to let my daughter spend a bit of time alone with her grandmother. My daugther came into the kitchen a couple of minutes later and said, "Grandma's crying." I ran up there and, sure enough, my mother-in-law was in tears.

In whispers, she explained to me the my daughter had climbed up into my mother-in-law's lap and started slapping the shit out of her. Pretty vicious for a two-year-old, but enough was enough, I guess. (For the record, my daughter has never done anything like that, before or since.)

It's not fun for anyone. Having seen the kind of burden it is on someone, I can say without reservation that I have no desire to become a burden to my children. None. Then again, I love my children. Why would I want to put anyone I love through the hell of taking care of me like that?

To me, there is only one way to pay back the gift one received from one's parents in the form of care, and that's to pay it forward to your own children. As adults, it is their (my parents') responsibility to provide for their own futures. Being an adult means assuming responsibility for one's self (US Government be damned!). It is my responsibility to provide for my future. I have no desire to become a burden to my children. I didn't sire them to care for me in my old age, and if I did, I would not be worthy of their care.

If my life is so miserable that I cannot remember a visit from my adult children just five minutes ago, I hope I die soon. I don't want to live like that, and I don't want my children to know me like that.

So, ultimately, sasha, I judge your article as doing nothing more than forwarding the guilt trip of parents with less than loving motives.

*Scandal*


Now that the urge to kick the monitor has passed.. (4.20 / 5) (#89)
by localroger on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 10:59:53 PM EST

Earth to Sasha, Earth to Sasha:

Parenthood does not make you a good person. My girlfriend, her two sibs, and I represent the failures of four different methods of birth control. Neither of us was treated very well by our parents. Your parents do not give you the "gift of life." God, the universe, the Strong Anthropic Principle, or Bob did that. Your parents do not deserve your fealty simply because they thought the rhythm method would really work.

Many parents are good parents and earn the kind of respect you advocate, but to assume this is universal is so naive as to be breathtaking. But if your parents abused you, or royally fucked up your life by incompetence, or mindfucked you for two decades before you could escape them, or loved the bottle or the ponies or an inside straight more than you, or if they if they made it clear every moment of your childhood you were an accident they have to deal with but would rather have avoided, then they better have good retirement plans. Because you don't owe them the time of day.

While I have a lot of exceptions with libertarianism one thing I'm in agreement with is that it torques my 'nads when someone suggests I owe something because of when, where, or how I was born. That's just as fucked up as suggesting you should have to go to the back of the bus or use a different toilet because of when, where, or how you were born. If your parents weren't fucked up you probably don't understand this and it just sounds nasty. But to a lot of people, it's the purest truth. Some parents don't deserve your respect.

I can haz blog!

Personal Responsibility (3.00 / 2) (#90)
by skyknight on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 11:32:40 PM EST

I don't know what other people from my generation plan on doing, but this is how I plan to avoid burdening my children.

1) Live responsibly both fiscally and physically/nutritionally during my younger years. I plan to save money for my retirement, and to take care of my body along the way so I'll have the capital and health to enjoy retirement without being a parasite.

2) When my health inevitably fails, I will take a trip somewhere and kill myself.* I believe that this is the most responsible way, and the only honorable way to meet my own end. I will not be a burden. I will not be a leach.

Yah, that's right, I'm a libertarian.

* The trick is to kill yourself before you get alzheimers and forget thegreat plan.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI

On #2 (3.50 / 2) (#107)
by Merc on Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 02:46:52 PM EST

You feel the same way I do right now. But there's one annoying problem: The damn flesh wants to live.

I've seen this in my dad, and a lot of other people too. They never think they're old. They get used to having less mobility, worse hearing, a worse memory, etc. But if you ask them, they're never old.

Your body just seems to want to live. You can draw a line in the sand now and say "If both my legs were blown off, I'd rather die than live with an injury like that." However, if that happened, I betcha you would say: "I changed my mind, I want to live, I'll get around this somehow."

My guess is that for most people this would continue up until the point when they depend on others and even past that point. At that point the mantra becomes "I will kill myself if I become more of a burden on my family than I am right now", but of course this changes too.

I wish there was a way around this, but I don't know of one. The damn flesh has that "self-preservation" code in it that's so tough to stop.



[ Parent ]
Good Point (none / 0) (#118)
by skyknight on Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 09:53:50 AM EST

Yah, you make a very valid point. I guess we'll have to wait until we get there before we can say "I told you so." This of course could be the lead in for another debate: sometimes the flesh wants to die. People at the end stages of terminal diseases often have zero quality of life and are suffering immeasurably. Yet, religious zealots often tell them that it is not their right to take their own life. This I find to be an example of pure religious evil. I think the crux to our little thread is this: people need to be allowed to make their own decisions regarding the end of their life.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
Very Interesting (4.00 / 1) (#96)
by Leoa on Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 05:35:17 AM EST

This post made me think.

My grandmother will be ninety years sometime soon and for about two or three years our family has been watching her slowly decay, from the bright, wise and strong woman she used to be, to an "old woman". She is losing her memory (only slightly until now), and turned very stubborn. even though she is approaching a biblical age, she still goes out every morning, walks two kilometers to the market, gets her daily food and meets friends.
But her friends wither and die one by one, there are about two or three left (excluding her sister, who is by four years her elder) and those are by far younger than she is.
Why am I telling you this? We have been thinking for about ten years what will happen, when she won't be able to support herself any longer. Admittedly, I had been only a child at that time, but then again she is the only grandmother I knew, being not even my biological grandmother.

After WWII she had raised my father as her child, having married into this family without the consent of my father's older siblings. In fact, my aunt not only disliked her. But she replaced the mother for my father and he willingly and lovingly accepted her as such. Later on, my cousins and I knew her only as the grandmother, the most loving person I have ever met, but then again that is what grandparents are for. I love her very deeply, and of course, it hurts to see her approaching death at an accelerated rate now. But before I had to experience the death of loved ones and I have been taught (and believe now) that this is a fundamental experience of life. Many a sayings and proverbs you hear tell you that this is what is important; not only for death, as well for love.

So we have been thinking about what will happen, and have talked with her about it. She would hate to "hang on to machines", meaning: she would hate if there was nothing that we would recognize her by anymore. Neither does she seem comfortable with the idea of going to a nursing home or a "senior residence". I believe, this is because she is part of the WWII-generation, raised to work until you drop dead working. We came to the conclusion that, if she would want it so, she would spent her last time with my parents. Maybe a nurse would be hired, if my mother or my father would not feel "competent" enough, or they would be too sick, too grown old themselves.

I wonder what it will be like for me in the future. Which path I will tread. Will I see into a nursing home or will I take "the burden" of my parents onto my shoulders? I do not like to think about that until it will be the case. I am only sure that I will provide any means it takes to ensure good care for my parents, since I love them not only because they provided the basis for my life. And simply it is a whole wonderful experience when your own children get to see their grandparents more often than just once or twice a year.
The problem I see, you might be pointing out, is the non-communication between the children putting their parents into nursing homes and the parents. I believe, it is vital to talk about such enterprises when another person's life is affected. Or would you say to your spouse that next week the whole family will move to another country without consulting with him/her? I think not.


Leo after all



...but what do i know

Gifts and strings attached. (3.75 / 4) (#98)
by Znork on Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 05:43:00 AM EST

A gift, freely given, has no strings attached. People get children for their own sake, not for the childrens sake. They get them, often with little thought of the consequences, often without being able to appropriately care for them, for their own fulfillment. Because they want kids.

The gift of life is something I did not ask for, like a sample of shampoo in the mail. I absolutely refuse to accept any form of obligation or duty associated with a gift which I had no opportunity to choose not to accept.

There is no obligation. I am bound by no duty.

Parents should learn to plan ahead. If they fail to ascertain their care in the elderly years on their own, that is their failure. And that is their failure in a society that they themselves built.

I expect a collective apology from the parents of the world. An apology for bringing unsuspecting innocent life into a world of suffering, then compounding their selfish crime by sheltering, lying and pretending everything is ok to that life until they're thrown into a broken society where they'll spend the rest of it trying to stay ahead of the deadly jaws of necessity in an endless nightmare of not enough time.

I did not ask for it.

That said, I love my parents, for all their faults, and I hope I'll find at least some time to spend with them in their old age.

I doubt I'll ever get children tho. It seems such a callous thing to do.

you unbelievably spoiled american child (2.14 / 7) (#105)
by slapshot on Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 02:20:39 PM EST

how sweet of you. perhaps you could solve the problem by ending your own selfish life before you are put through anymore of the punishment of living, or make the world a better place (not possible sitting in front of yer array of linux boxen). you are crabby little asshole that has done very little 'living' to be talking like this. tell us what insight leads you to such conviction and certainty regarding the...I would bet all the money in the world you will be embarrassed about this someday. my favorite quote was ..."parents should learn to plan ahead." you little prick. there is virtually no such thing as planning as a parent. life will kick you in the nuts the minute you feel like you'fe done one single thing right. parenting is 100% about giving your life up so you can train a child to be a human being. obviously your parents failed you. is that why you are so absolved of guilt? you can't plan for cancer, strokes, alzheimer's, etc. i hope you have other siblings that do not share your attitude. who will pay for your parents HUGE medical bills at the end of their lives? you do not 'find some time' to spend with your parents in their 'old age'. godddamit, you MAKE time. the elderly have more wisdom than you can possibly understand. that is the real tragedy of life.....once you understand what is important, you are usually too old to enjoy much of it. a callous thing to do is become an asshole that your parents are ashamed of, only to spend your 30's and 40's trying to apologize for being the asshole they tried so hard not to let you become. i hope for their sake and yours that you eventually grow up.

[ Parent ]
Close... (5.00 / 1) (#117)
by Znork on Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 09:40:47 AM EST

Amazing what it takes to get some form of response on issues like this, isnt it?

I've done enough 'living' to last me a lifetime, thankyou very much.

You're so close you know. Parenting is 100% about giving up your life to train a child or children. How many parents do you know who actually do that? How many parents do you know who get children for anything other than entirely selfish reasons? I've never met any. It's always 'I want children', or 'babies are cute', or that a relationship will get better or I want to be a mother or want someone who will care for me when I get old. Want. Always want.

How do the desires of the parents obligate the children?

Your obligation as a parent towards a child is absolute because it comes as a choice. The debt incurred for the choice of having a child is not repayed until the child is an adult themselves.

A child owes nothing for being born or raised.

I object to the idea of debt for being born, just as I object to inherited sin, or any other attempted guilt trip.

If you raise your children well, if you are there for them through their childhood, and they learn to love and respect you, they may help you and care for you in your old age *of their own free will*. Then you know you have repayed your debt and more.

[ Parent ]
Good thing you won't "get"children... (1.60 / 5) (#110)
by mgarland on Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 04:50:28 PM EST

...because I, for one, would not want to be the son or daughter of such a cold-hearted, selfish individual.

[ Parent ]
You need the belt. (2.20 / 5) (#111)
by Chris Gore on Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 05:11:07 PM EST

... The gift of life is something I did not ask for ... I absolutely refuse to accept any form of obligation or duty ... I did not ask for it ...

I bet you have asked for a lot of things of them though, like every stupid little game that ever came out for Sega/N64/PlayStation/whatever, all sorts of stupid CDs of shitty bands you saw on MTV, clothes exactly like what everybody else is wearing at your school, food and shelter, all things that your parents do not need to give, but you need to get. If your parents didn't have to support your worthless ass, they could be driving a nicer car, living in a nicer house, and buying all sorts of stupid CDs of shitty bands from when they were your age.

[ Parent ]

Sorry, nope... (5.00 / 2) (#116)
by Znork on Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 07:56:10 AM EST

Most things I got as a youth I bought from money earned myself. If they want a nicer car or a nicer house they sure have the money for it. I've never regarded it as their obligation to provide luxury items for me.

So, bzzzzt, try again. Hint; the topic is attempted guilt trips, the difference between gifts and contracts entered into by consenting adults, obligations and reasons for getting children.

[ Parent ]
Food and shelter (none / 0) (#123)
by Macrobat on Sun Oct 28, 2001 at 02:55:29 PM EST

...clothes exactly like what everybody else is wearing at your school, food and shelter, all things that your parents do not need to give, but you need to get.

Um, actually, parents are legally obligated to meet the physical needs of their children. That includes food, shelter, and clothing (whether or not it's the same kind of clothes everyone else is wearing). If they don't, that's neglect, and the state can take the kids away.

"Hardly used" will not fetch a better price for your brain.
[ Parent ]

Good job ... (none / 0) (#122)
by Kalani on Sun Oct 28, 2001 at 10:58:50 AM EST

All the romanticism about parenting is sickening to me. I appreciated your post, though in my case I'd lose the "... but I love my parents ..." part.

-----
"I [think] that ultimately physics will not require a mathematical statement; in the end the machinery will be revealed and the laws will turn out to be simple, like the checker board."
--Richard Feynman
[ Parent ]
Mutually exclusive? (none / 0) (#124)
by Macrobat on Sun Oct 28, 2001 at 03:30:51 PM EST

Just a couple of rhetorical questions here...

Do the parent's happiness and the children's have to be mutually exclusive? Is it impossible to raise your kids, give them what they need (hell, give them more if that's your style), and also be able to do the things you want to? Isn't showing, by example, how to be a happy and productive adult a manner of training and raising?

And the point about children not asking to be born is not relevant--how's a parent to know, beforehand? You simply can't be asked for your approval before you exist. That's as rational as blaming your parents because they didn't have you a hundred years ago, or a thousand years from now. Couples who don't have children aren't asking for anyone's permission, either--are they somehow less selfish than couples who do? How does that work?

"Hardly used" will not fetch a better price for your brain.
[ Parent ]

One family's positive experience (4.00 / 1) (#102)
by DonK on Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 01:19:11 PM EST

My family's experience. My father died at 60. My mother, a couple of years later (in her early 60's then) took a couple of college courses and began a new career with H&R Block, as a tax preparer, which career she pursued into her mid-80's! At age 65 or so, she moved into a retirement community, which had an associated assisted living area, and an associated infirmary/nursing home facility. This provided her housekeeping services and meals and medical care. (For aged couples in the facility, an especially important benefit is that if one partner becomes bed-ridden while the other is active, they are not separated, and the active one does not have to give up all else to become a full-time care-giver.) There were social events and get-togethers in the house, and she had a constant set of dinner companions. And the occasional visits and phone calls from family. She made good friends there, though in later years the pattern of making a good new friend and then seeing them decline and die after several years, got a bit discouraging. When she went into decline in her late 80's, the medical and nursing facilities were right there, with people she had dealt with in the past. She didn't find the last 6 months particularly pleasant, but "being at home with her family" wouldn't have made much difference at that stage.

That's Life. (5.00 / 2) (#108)
by Null_Packet on Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 03:42:23 PM EST

Sad as it may seem, we have no guarantees our children and grandchildren will care for us. Despite efforts made by the government to ease our concern, they cannot provide that guarantee either. 

It really comes full circle with how your parents raised you. To quote a famous author, "He who sows in pain, reaps in tears". I for one was in a family where you had to move out of the house at the end of high school. That was 16 for me. Parents who boot their children out of the house ASAP are setting themselves up for pain later by alienating their children. I'm not proposing the kids stay at home forever, but I am against alienation. For some reason, I felt a strong bond still with my grandparents and my great-grandfather. I still care for them by sharing the responsibility of visiting them every night to make sure all is ok and help with the issues that arise late in life. My brother and I feel it is our duty to repay them for all their kindness to us: your story implies no help by the grandparents, and no interaction. That might fit well in a post on K5, but not in real life.

The 'Home' for the elderly in our family is the place where family members *have* to go when they need 24 hour attention, not to mention a nurse who is emotionally detached enough to help change bandages, etc. The local hospitals have Hospice programs to help keep the elderly out of Homes and Hospitals, and this usually means helping with equipment costs or with paid help to come to the house. I know quite well that I came into this life alone, and will leave alone- that means I could quite well outlive my wife and be forgotten by my children, or they too could be dead. Although a good discussion, and more needs to be discussed, your conclusion is naive: We CANNOT guarantee there will always be loved ones or a government to care for us- not as children, not as adults, not as elderly.



You never really experienced it then (4.50 / 2) (#113)
by gexen on Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 09:32:03 PM EST

I am a 19 year old living away from his parents at college. Recently my grandmother was forced to move in with my mom and dad due to her degenerative memory. Now my mom and dad go through limitless stress taking care of my grandmother, worrying if she'll flip out at a restraunt or wander away from the house in the middle of the night and forget where she is...which has happened before. This is a full time job, and I respect my parents for being able to do it and keep their careers, they are going through a lot of stressfull times right now and it's basically because of my grandmother. While this is an option for my family(not the desirable one mind you), it's not an option for other families, who have children at home and both parents work full time. I'm going to leave you with a quote from my mother. "If I ever get like this, please put me in a home, I would never want to burden you like this."
-- Will Platnick
http://www.tflsolutions.com
"Finding the truth is a lot like picking raspberries, you miss a lot if you approach it from only one angle."

Much the same... (4.00 / 1) (#114)
by Kaki Nix Sain on Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 10:09:03 PM EST

... except the cause was strokes. My parent's lives went from an outgoing and very healthy empty nest outlook to being trapped and stressed. The personalities that they were developing in the absence of my brother and I were utterly crushed by the experience. It took a log time after my granny died for them to recover from the whole thing. We were all glad that granny's final years were among family and that she could share the few memories that survived her periodic strokes. However, my parents told my brother and me that after a good deal of soul searching they had gotten some form of insurance to cover the expense of putting them in a home.



[ Parent ]

Social conditioning (none / 0) (#115)
by Jel on Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 05:30:01 AM EST

It might be fair to argue that as humans, we should obey higher a moral code than animals, but every other animal I can think of with any sort of family structure repays it's debt to parenthood by being a parent to the next generation.

I for one would rather concentrate on ensuring that my kids are raised in a better environment rather than worry about someone who has been an adult for longer than me, and had plenty of opportunity to look after their future if they so desired.


...lend your voices only to sounds of freedom. No longer lend your strength to that which you wish to be free from. Fill your lives with love and bravery, and we shall lead a life uncommon
- Jewel, Life Uncommon
My .02$ - lose the guilt trip. (5.00 / 1) (#120)
by Dialup on Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 05:41:55 PM EST

Seriously, it's not healthy and it makes you come across like a whiner.

Family should not pressure or in other ways get in the way of the progress of their progeny with regards to said progeny doing their will. If this view seems alien to you, take a look at "Magick Without Tears" by Aleister Crowley- the essay "Family: Public Enemy no. 1" on page 335 of the 1999 printing of the book will serve to enlighten.
Said essay might serve for context on why I consider my father an equal and rarely communicate with or think of my mother or her side of the family.

I'm Twenty two, and living on the opposite end of the state from my genetic family. I talked to my dad once about the idea of coming home for some downtime. His response was literally "why would you want to do THAT?! There's nothing HERE!" And he has a point. The urge to hop a bus and spend a week in the middle of the country being guilted by mom's "I'm a failed parent!" speaches [oops.... she tried to make me be a good little Christian and didn't like the fact that I asked for a bunch of books written by Aleister Crowley for christmas last year....] dissipated completely after dad bought an iMac and started communicating through email... after a few hours of telephony telling him how to set it up, which of my local friends back home to talk to about getting online, and holding his hand through some serious self-esteem issues with regards to the learning curve.

I get along great with my dad. He's 51 years old, was in the air force, and still works out five days a week- three nights he runs 2 to 3 miles, two nights he goes 4 or 5, depending on how saucy he's feeling. He introduced me to sci-fi and cinema with Heinlein and Scott. He fueled my interest in sequential art with many a hilarious discussion about Bloom County- and we've bonded through the video experience of Dominion: Tank Police and John Carpenter's Dark Star.
My dad smoked from the age of 14 to 26 and quit cold turkey, long before I was even a thought. It's a habit I picked up in college- and when I revealed this to him one winter, he didn't yell at me, he didn't scream, he didn't give me any kind of shit at all. His response was "You want one now?" to which I replied "Hell yes"- we stepped outside in 12 degree weather with ankle high snow and stood in the driveway. I smoked, my dad drank a beer. We chilled out and he told me about his experience with smoking, how much packs cost back in the day, why he started, why he quit. Then we went back inside and watched Apocalypse Now.

My father is the ONLY genetic relative that I can identify with in any capacity. He was an orphan, and his adopted parents have been gone for a few years- they were a matter of considerable emotional stress for him, and he's been very laid back since then, a completely different person- an equal, as opposed to an angsty elder. His health and mental faccilities are such that I don't see him in a nursing home or care faccility- it's very likely he'll be the type of man to die on his feet, or to go out doing something he loves- be it hunting, hiking, calisthenics, or target practice.

My respect for him is a relatively recent thing- I didn't see him much as a kid because he worked second shift, and was at work when I was home from school. Spending time with him in my late teens involved developing a late night schedule during the summers- something I've stuck with since, as it works best for me. He wasn't big on the idea of being a parent, and had some severe emotional issues with the situation- the responsibility, the kids, his wife, and a bunch of other bits of nasty that tormented him for some time and honestly, made growing up with him a pain in the ass most of the time, with occasional instances of situations mentioned above- which were the exception, as opposed to the rule, when I was growing up- the situation didn't reverse until I was out in The World doing the school thing.
From a 20/20 hindsight perspective, I can see his faults and still consider him a successful parent- and I know he'll be able to take care of himself if the situation demands it.

My mom and her side of the family, on the other hand, are another story entirely. Aside from glasses and a list of allergies longer than my leg, I have nothing at all in common with them- I'm the only one in the entire DNA tree that wears black, is an artist, is not a republican, owns a Macintosh, and is emphatically Not Christian. Mom's side of the clan has always been an alien concept to me- a befuddling "what's UP with these people?" without anything in the way of a sense of belonging or comfort from hanging out with them at the obligatory Family Functions. I don't hate them or bear them malice (with a couple of exceptions, and those more from a standpoint of being VERY pleased to have my father's DNA and outlook on things than any real sense of ugliness)- they're simply going to come up close to me on a blood test, and it ends there.

I got my allergies and optics from Mom, and my Tinker Gnome streak, love of science, and a straight up insistance to Do It My Way and Do It Right from my Dad. I have some issues with Mom- mainly personality things that we don't really mesh on at all. I don't know her as well as my father, but I can attest to the fact that she's the one that wanted kids- and she enjoys taking care of people. Very much a Marge Simpson sort of woman, if one were to consider my father to be a strange cross of Captian Willard, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Al Bundy and J.T. Ward.

Mom works in a nursing home. She likes taking care of old people, and gets a lot of statisfaction out of it- to the extent where she kept at her job in a part time capacity for over eight years because she LIKES the people she takes care of and KNOWS that they like having someone like her around- particularly the folks whose kids a little bastards like me and are allergic to nursing homes. She's in her late 40's, and likely has a retirement plan sort of thing laid out- hopefully something that will enable her to continue to putter around and have fun doing what she likes to do. She's a Born Parent- was instrumental in PTA when I was a kid, was a Boy Scout Den Mother, was involved in 4H, founded and ran the Elder Guild back home when she was younger- a small organization that enabled senior citizens to get together and get their arts and crafts out into the public. I can see all of this through mature eyes, but growing up was an exericise in angst: mom is incredibly stubborn (which is why she's still married to dad, I think ;), and despite the fact that she cares a lot and is very active in putting her nature to good use for the benefit and enjoyment of others, our personalities are quite simply Not Compatable without a LOT of effort on my part.

My parents will get by in their old age, whenever it comes around - and I expect both of them to continue to be vital and kicking ass throughout. I honestly don't see where I fit into the equation at that point, beyond the occasional email or the "whazzap?!", or the various CDROM mailed home with some goodies for dad's iMac. I'm entrenched in my own thing- they were both very good about encouraging me to do whatever the heck it is that I'm doing, despite their continued puzzlement over the fact that their son is an artist / occultist / computer guy and their daughter is a poet / photographer - neither have that sort of artistic bent, and neither of us were actually encuraged to DO it- we just DID, the 'rents picked up on it and encouraged us further.

In the context of this guilt-trip essay on the front page, I don't owe my parents anything, for reasons other posts have clearly stated. On the other hand, I very much appreciate and respect both of them. And from the experience of the rest of the family- her genetic and his adopted- I know that they'll just as soon move to the Moon as a nursing home- and Dad's monetary proficciency will insure that it won't be a necessary thing.

I concur (none / 0) (#130)
by blaine on Wed Oct 31, 2001 at 01:43:57 PM EST

I have to agree with most of what you're saying, and relate some aspects of my own life. I consider myself lucky in that I feel fairly connected to my immediate family. I know a lot of people who dislike their parents and their family, and I'm glad that, aside from when I was a teenager, I actually feel like I'm a part of my family. What I really want to point out is the reason (IMHO) that this connection exists.

I am one of four boys in my family. We were all raised Catholic, and Republican. I guess you could call it a compromise on my parents part; my father (Protestant, Republican) got to choose the political party, while my mother (Catholic, Democrat) got to choose the religion. (not that they are that much different of a concept). Yet, as of today, the breakdown of the family is as follows:

Dad: a Libertarian, semi-religious (Protestant)
Mom: a Republican, semi-religious (Catholic)
Oldest Son: a Green, non-religious (Atheist)
Second Son: a Republican, semi-religious (Buddhist)
Third Son (me): a Libertarian, non-religious (Agnostic)
Fourth Son: a Democrat, religious (Catholic)

Despite being raised Republican, most of us have gone our separate ways. Both of my parents have changed political party, and their feelings towards religion. The same goes for most of my brothers. Yet, despite all of this, never once have any of us given another a hard time over their beliefs, or what they want to do with their lives. This is why I am connected to my family: because we are a family, regardless of whether we agree on everything.

Many a debate has occurred at the dinner table at my house, over politics, religion, and other topics. Sometimes people are convinced, and sometimes they are not. But regardless of this, we're all still a family. Never once while growing up did my parents tell me what I had to think, or believe, or do; they simply let me decide what was right for me, and because of that, I will always be thankful. More importantly, though, because of that, we will always be a family.

[ Parent ]
Well ... (3.00 / 1) (#121)
by Kalani on Sun Oct 28, 2001 at 10:49:21 AM EST

My dad's on his third wife now. He met her at my older brother's high school graduation party. When I was younger he liked kicking me around. I remember one day being left in a pool of blood when he'd finished.

My mom had multiple affairs with almost all of my friends while she was married to my stepdad, in addition to stealing some $3000 from me.

Not only do I feel no sense of obligation to them but I would kill both of them with my own bare hands if I thought I'd suffer no retribution by the law. If I ever get the opportunity to put them in an old folks home, I'll choose the one that's got its own section on Amnesty International's home page. I have no qualms about knowing that they'd be tortured. Fuck them.

-----
"I [think] that ultimately physics will not require a mathematical statement; in the end the machinery will be revealed and the laws will turn out to be simple, like the checker board."
--Richard Feynman
You're a doll loprox (none / 0) (#125)
by Kalani on Mon Oct 29, 2001 at 09:15:56 AM EST

But I don't think that I'm the only one who's experienced something like that.

-----
"I [think] that ultimately physics will not require a mathematical statement; in the end the machinery will be revealed and the laws will turn out to be simple, like the checker board."
--Richard Feynman
[ Parent ]
My parents (none / 0) (#129)
by jolly st nick on Tue Oct 30, 2001 at 01:25:46 PM EST

My parents stayed married until my father died. My father was born in Toisan China; my mom was white bornin the backwoods of Maine. They were married in the forties when interracial marriage was very rare and somewhat dangerous. My dad wasn't around too much: he worked twelve to fourteen hours a day six days a week and on the seventh day he worked for four hours. He needed the money because there were eight of us, and in addition to the cost of housing and feeding us, he gave us all private educations. We also had virtually any thing that we wanted, from music lessons to sports equipment to toys, although not to excess.

Despite his prodigious work schedule, we all have vivid memories of him from holidays, time we spent with him at work or in his rare time off. He was somewhat aloof in the Confucian tradition, but he took great care of us, and wanted us to be educated, respectable and valuable members of our community. He had a fiery temper, but he never hurt anyone. He was man who did many good works for us and for others, but he was fanatical about hiding from this because he never wanted to be seen as showing off.

When he died, it was like a state funeral. Hundreds of people came to the wake, many telling me (to my surprise) of the time they were down on their luck and he put money in their hands, or the time they had a nervous breakdown and he was the only one who treated them with dignity. He as basically a quiet man who earned the respect of the people around him, even in an era of racism, by dint of hard work, good deeds and humanity.

My mom was an intelligent, extremely energetic woman. She had to be, to help out at the restaurant, spend time doing church work, help the neighbors, and to raise eight kids at the same time. She grew up in the grinding poverty of the Maine backwoods during the depression, when there was seldom enough to eat and the winters had to be faced without heat and only a thin blanket. She was also of the despised French catholic minority. School was only available to her up the seventh grade. Because she experienced bigotry and associated it with ignorance, she valued justice and knowledge highly, all the more so because she had a ready mind that could have done well with more education. She read many books, and was well informed on current affairs because, as she as proud to say, she read the paper every day of her adult life.

Once later in life she remarked that we used to think she was very strict, but in fact she was quite easygoing and permissive. This was true. There was relatively little that was forbidden, and more or less we were allowed to think and do things for ourselves. As a result, as adults we all project confidence and the ability to think on our feet. I've taken my own cue on parenting from this: when the limits are few but clear, children absorb them more and can be trusted more.

I offer this to you, not to say that may parents were better than yours, or my childhood better than yours, but in a spirit of sharing. If I could give you some of my memories to replace yours, I would. Parents aren't necessarily wicked, petty people -- they are just human. People don't become parents because they are prepared for the awesome responsibility, although perhaps things would be better if they were that way. My parents weren't perfect, they were just hard working, sensible and humane people, which is really all it takes to be a great parent. It sounds like you had an unhappy childhood. Some day if you get to be a parent, you can aspire to be a better one than you had.



[ Parent ]

Thank you (nt) (none / 0) (#131)
by Kalani on Wed Oct 31, 2001 at 05:00:25 PM EST



-----
"I [think] that ultimately physics will not require a mathematical statement; in the end the machinery will be revealed and the laws will turn out to be simple, like the checker board."
--Richard Feynman
[ Parent ]
It's pretty complicated (none / 0) (#128)
by jolly st nick on Tue Oct 30, 2001 at 12:39:08 PM EST

My Mom moved in with my sister for a number of years. She was diabetic, had no feeling in her extremities, and had progressive Alzheimers. As a consequence she often had accidents that resulted in dangerous infections, and she could not remember them and indeed may never have felt them. Over the years we had an increasing series of medical crises.

In time it became more difficult to care for her, requiring the kinds of care that were actually somewhat skilled nursing. In time my sister had a lot of trouble caring for her own family and was exhausted and unfufilled in her extremely difficult task. So reluctantly, we put my mom in a nursing home where she actually did much better, and she had daily, sometimes more than daily visits from nearby family. Not only did she do better, my sister had more time to actually spend with her, especially on the good days when the Alzheimers retreated and left her more coherent.

Once upon a time, granny and grandpa would be carried away more or less by the first respiratory infection that comes down the pike. The care of aged parents was not so much of a burden because it was short and measures to be taken were few. Now medical technology means that life can be extended for a long time, but often at the cost of complex measures and care.

There need to be a series of progressive measures: home health aid (possibly combined with living with children, but not necessarily), assisted living, skilled nursing facilities, to hospices. There is no cowardice in this: the aim of these measures is to maximize the quality of life available to an old person at any given point in time, to give them some measure of independence and stimulation. However, these facilities and services must be selected with great care. There are huge differences between nursing facilities. Some are so dinghy and lifeless they could be prisons.

Even at the best facilities, you as family must take an active part in your relatives' lives. People who get regular visits and attention, get gifts of clothes, have relatives asking after them, these people get the better care than the neglected patients, even at the best facilities. Its the squeaky wheel phenomenon. We have an aunt at a generally excellent nursing facility, where a new doctor made a mistake in her medications. The doctor and social worker were going to basically cover this up by having her shipped to a psychiatric hospital. I'm sure they didn't think of it this way, but that's what it amounted to. The family got together and raised bloody hell. We were friendly, supportive and everything, but we also drew a line and made it very clear that stepping over the line was going to cause them a lot more grief than just eating a little crow -- possibly it would have been a "career limiting move" for several of the people involved.

The take home lesson here is that when you commit a relative to a nursing home, you aren't delegating your responsibility to love, care for and look after that person. You have to stay involved, and in fact you may be more involved with that person once you have delegated the physical and technical nursing care to someone else.

For this reason, it is best that if you have parents that need skilled nursing facilities, you make sure they are nearby -- a few minutes drive if a good facility can be found, otherwise it wouldn't be unreasonable to move to have better access to an excellent institution.



Your Duty to Your Parents | 130 comments (123 topical, 7 editorial, 0 hidden)
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