There is No Such Thing as Role Reversal

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by Joy Loverde

Will there ever come a day when I read the blogs and articles about caring for aging parents when someone does not caring for eldelry, caregiver supportmake the statement “parenting your parents?” And will there come a time when people stop making reference to the term “role reversal?”

Who made this up? Who thought of this concept in the first place? I want to personally ask him or her what the heck they were thinking.

Stop it, and stop it now. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS ROLE REVERSAL AND PARENTING YOUR PARENTS when it comes to caring for aging parents. As long as our parents remain mentally facile and able to make their own decisions, the rest of us have to appreciate the limits of our own authority.

While changes (which can be quite drastic) in the roles and responsibilities of both parties may be the case, suddenly or over time, and family caregivers may become more in charge of decisions (or completely)the fact remains that the situations never dictates that we have the right to say, “now I am parenting my parent.” This statement is 100% disrespectful.

Anyone who disagrees with me will learn the hard way that trying to impose their way on parents will touch off a downward spiral in the communication process, leading to a breakdown in the relationship as a whole. And if the object of the caregiving task is to be “right,” then taking this position in the process will come at the expense of the parent-child relationship - a loss that may not be recovered when all is said and done.

So how do you know if you are parenting your parent or even thinking along these lines? For starters, listen to your tone of voice. Other clues involve making demands rather than asking questions, giving off a heavy sigh at the beginning of a sentence, and body language such as rolling your eyes, yelling at your parent, crossing your arms, and pointing your finger as you talk are also dead giveaways.

Caregiving is not easy, and with the responsibilities comes the realization that on some level our parent is no longer the parent they were (or we wish they were). Those days are gone forever, and that’s difficult to accept. No matter what, our parents remain our parents to the end.

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