Parenting Your Parents: How Are You Coping?

If you are a millenial, you may feel where I’m coming from with this post. We have all reached the age, and our parents have reached the age, where the roles are beginning to reverse. Before you realized it, you have found yourself telling your parents what they should or should not be doing, what is best for their physical and mental health, and so much more. Sound like something you’re going through? Well, congratulations! You are now in the stage of life we have popularly called: Parenting your parents.

First things first; what does it even mean when people say they are “parenting their parents?”

I’m the simplest of terms, the phrase means that at some point, your parents age, and you mature; even though you are still younger than them. You find yourself in the position of being responsible for your parents care, well-being and their overall best interest. Most millennials today are finding that parenting our parents is not the easiest task; and some may secretly even be apologizing for the hell they put their parents through. We are seeing that it is not much different on the other side.

A lot of millenials also have their own families and children; which means, not only are they parenting their small children, but also trying to maintain staying in contact and on top of their own parents. In many ways, parenting parents is an exact parallel of parenting small children.

The Difficulties of Parenting our Parents

How do we begin to deal with the stress and emotional baggage that comes with parenting our parents? We are entering our third year of dealing with COVID-19 and it’s many variants. Despite it calming down; it is still a reality that we all have to be mindful of. When COVID first hit the states, and it started growing, the one population of people it was most dangerous to were immuno-compromised and elderly people. For most of us, that is our parents age groups. Although my parents are in their 50’s, I was still concerned. And for some of us, it has been very difficult to get our parents to fall in line and realize that the world they once knew is no more. The pandemic; among other scenarios, has elevated the need for younger adult children to pay more attention to their aging parents, for the sake of their survival at the very minimum.

There are so many things you can feel while watching the tables turn and you being the one telling your parents what they should or should not do. Anything ranging from stress, worry, fear, anger, anxiety, exhaustion; they are all valid and real feelings to go through. The reality that we all must face is, our parents are aging. There will be so much we can do; however, at a certain point, we will be the ones caring for them until they are no longer here. While it is a reality, it is also overwhelming to come to grips with.

What Can We Do?

To support this topic, I began searching for ways to cope with this new feeling that we are now faced with. The conclusion I came to was that this is really no different than coping mechanisms for parenting small children (as stated before; it’s an exact parallel at times). So I found the top three tips that I felt would help me in a time like this; and I hope they help you too.

1. Keep the lines of communication open with your other immediate or extended family – Parenting your parents can be a daunting task and just like with young children; “it takes a village.” So lean on them when you need to.
2. Take time for self – Be sure you are taking care of yourself in this process. You cannot pour from an empty cup, so take time for yourself.
3. Know your resources – Some things can be beyond your scope of control or what you are capable of doing. It is important to know what resources you have at your disposal; and do not be ashamed to utilize them.