Levan Institute for Humanities and Ethics

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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?

INTRODUCTION:

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?

 

INSTRUCTOR PREPARATION:

  • 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.

General Information:

 

 

 

 

 

IN-CLASS ACTIVITIES:

Watch:

 

 

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.