PARENTING OUR PARENTS - HOW SHOULD WE MANAGE THE CARE OF OUR PARENTS AS THEY GET OLDER?
How should we manage the care of our parents as they get older?
We all know that parents have to take care of their children. But does there come a time when we have to start taking care of our parents? Do we have any moral obligations to our parents simply because we are their children? What if we have no signficant relationship with them?
Must we provide them with continuous emotional support? Assist them financially and/or provide for their housing? Insure that they make good life-decisions? What if the cost is our inability to follow our own dreams or to provide for the dreams of our children?
And what if they fight us and tell us to go away and leave them alone? Should we respect their autonomy as we watch them deteriorate, or should we force them to do what we think best for them?
How should we parent our parents?
- Reading of suggested materials below
- General understanding of the major issues in question:
- The range of challenges faced by children of aging parents
- The responsibilities of parents to their adult children
- The responsibilities of adult children to their parents
- The responsiiblities society has to the well-being of its elderly
- The rights and limitations of autonomy/self-determination
LIST OF SUGGESTED MATERIALS TO BE READ BEFORE CLASS:
The resources below are intended to give the reader an introduction to the problem that presents them with some of the major issues of the debate without going into much detail about any specific issue.
- Becoming 'parent of your parent' an emotionally wrenching process by Mindy Fetterman (USA TODAY, (Feb. 1, 2008)
- Taking Care of One's Own: Justice and Family Caregiving by Nancy S. Jecker (Journal of Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics, Oct. 30, 2004) Access to academic resources required
- Because They're My Parents: An Intergenerational Study of Felt Obligation and Parental Caregiving by Catherine H. Stein, Virginia A. Wemmerus, Marcia Ward, Michelle E. Gaines, Andrew L. Freeberg and Thomas C. Jewell (Journal of Marriage and Family, Aug. 1998) Access to academic resources required
- What obligations does an adult child have to his/her parents? City-data.com forum
- Children legally obliged to support elderly parents (Summarised from 'Honour Thy Father and Mother - or Else' by Walter Woon, The Wall Street Journal (Feb. 6, 1994)
- Notebook: Taking Care Of Your Parents CBS News, March 2007 (Video)
- The Sandwich Generation, those caught between their aging parents and young children by Media Storm (Video)
Do: Ask students to think about and discuss the following questions:
- How are the responsibilities of parents to their minor children related to the responsibities of adult children to their parents?
- How much would you give up on your own life's opportunities in order to take care of your aging parents?
- What responsibilities do individuals have to provide for their own future welfare in order to avoid becoming a financial or emotional burden on family members?
- What responsibilities, if any, does society have to provide for the welfare of its elderly?
- The responsibility to take care of the elderly overwhelmingly tends to fall on middle-aged women. Is this situation unjust, and if so, what should be done about it?
- How might those in what has been called the "Sandwich generation" balance the interests of their aging parents with those of their growing children?
* For additional ideas on assignments and lesson plan you might develop with this material, visit our Suggestions for incorporating lessons ethics into your course page.