“Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise—“that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”—Ephesians 6:2–3 NIV
They are our parents and we are their children—but somehow it doesn’t always stay that way. Sometimes those roles reverse.
If our parents are limited in their ability to care for themselves, we often take on a parent/guardian role with them. It’s a tough transition, both for the parents and their adult children. Yet we recognize the importance of this responsibility.
Most older people want to maintain their independence—and many will fight to retain their “rights.” That makes it especially hard to step in, for example, when declining vision or coordination makes their driving inadvisable. But for their safety—and the safety of others—we might need to be firm, as they probably once were with us.
Although it may be uncomfortable, it’s good to discuss issues such as power of attorney (and all that goes with it) with our parents. Learning their desires and expectations before a crisis occurs can prevent misunderstandings.
Our “guardianship” requires real diplomacy on our part. We don’t want to be too assertive and cause a rift in our relationship. But if we’re sensitive to our parents’ feelings, we’ll have a much better chance of success.