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Who's in charge here?? When the roles of parent and child start to change.....

Ha! Good question! Who is in charge here?? For adult children this is a question that often rings in their minds when working with aging parents. The realization that you have moved from kid to caregiver comes as a shock to most people. For some there is a specific moment or event that can be identified as the turning point in the inevitable reversal of roles. But for others the transition from "child being looked after" to "adult child DOING the looking after" happens gradually and almost invisibly.

There is that point in the middle of the transition where the roles of adult child and parent get a little fuzzy and this is usually when we start to notice the change. Questions like "can Mom and Dad make this decision?" " Do I need to step in and help?" "Is this safe for them to still be doing?" For the adult child it is sometimes difficult to know where the boundaries between helping and meddling lie.

When it comes time to talk about where your parents are living or going to live, these questions and boundary issues can take on a life of their own. Anyone had the "Mom, you need to move" conversation??? Well let me tell you, if you ever feel like testing that boundaries that's the one conversation guaranteed to put you right back in your place as a child... And honestly now, having had that conversation and not approaching or handling the subject well at all, I can totally understand my moms reaction! Nobody wants to be told what to do or how to live their life! It was after that conversation that I realized that it is not my role ,at the moment, to make decisions for my parents, it is my role to support and encourage them in making decisions for themselves. As long as they are safe, secure and happy in their home, moving is not my decision to make. I can help find ways to make the house function better, I can help find people to assist with maintenance and I can help start the downsizing process so that when they are ready to move, the job isn't so overwhelming but (at this point in time) I don't need to be in charge and I am very ok with that.

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