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Having children to take care of you in old age

(418 Posts)
ThatsNotMyCherry Fri 21-Feb-20 06:58:16

I want to know how to articulate why this is is wrong.

In recent years as her kids have flown the nest my mum has started going on about this a lot. She’s always saying how parents do so much for their children when they’re young so it’s their children’s duty to do the same when they’re old. I think she believes that in every relationship you should get back as much as you put in. She’s been a housewife her whole life and in recent years does a fair bit of care for her own mother. She tells me about people she knows who are unwell but their kids are busy working and raising their own families. Obviously neglecting your parents when they’re old isn’t right but people have their own lives and are entitled to live them. I think part of the problem may be that she’s never had a life outside of caring. When I tell her I don’t expect this from my children and want them to have their own happy, fulfilled lives she says I will only understand when they grow up, leave and then need them.

Oilyoilyoilgob Fri 21-Feb-20 07:06:36

No kids here so different point of view, I’ve had people ask me ‘but who will look after you when you’re old’ 😱 it would never cross my mind to think that way if I do have kids!

What if your children moved abroad etc?

To be fair to your mum, and thinking of my dearly departed grandma, there were way more women bringing up children, being housewives and looking after relatives and that dynamic seems to have changed now.

MuscatelGrapes Fri 21-Feb-20 07:06:47

I have absolutely no expectation that DS will be living in the same country as us when we’re old, and am certainly not expecting him to ‘take care’ of us. The world is big. I’m hoping he enjoys it.

ThatsNotMyCherry Fri 21-Feb-20 07:11:20

Well my mum thinks that children who move abroad if their parents are getting old are selfish.

Personally I wouldn’t go abroad unless absolutely necessary because I do want to be around for my parents when they’re old but I know I won’t be able to offer the level of support my mum does to her mother if it ever came to it and I think she knows it which is why she says these things to me.

Ponoka7 Fri 21-Feb-20 07:13:43

My youngest is 22, my eldest is 34. At the moment I provide child care for my grandchildren, but I don't expect to ever need them. I'm widowed and plan on staying single.

It would be nice if they did help me, but not at a personal expense. I've been very unwell and got on with it. Outside of doing a bit of occasional shopping and me visiting them (which gave me a boost), I didn't expect cleaning and care to be done.

When the childcare is cut down, I've got plans for my own life.

However, Care packages aren't adequate, so I think if you've had an OK relationship then making up the difference should just happen naturally, but that could just be a trip out once a week, or a good clean of the house.

She has a narrative that fits her world and life, but it isn't for everyone.

I get frustrated with my DD's neighbour. He talks about being lonely and isolated. He isn't isolated, he gets out every day, his choosing not to be involved in the community. He does feel lonely, he'd like to be living with someone and I know he expects more from his family, but it's wrong of him. He wants companionship on his terms. You've got to sort yourself out and work on being content with your lot.

WallyDancre Fri 21-Feb-20 07:15:24

I agree with MuscatelGrapes. I'm pretty sure my elder daughter will get out of this country at the earliest opportunity and never come back. There's a fair chance her younger sister will, too. As their parent I would be wrong to try to deny them opportunities by suggesting they need to be here to look after me when I become the kind of demented wreck that my dad now is.

ukgift2016 Fri 21-Feb-20 07:16:04

YANBU but this country depends on relatives to look after the elderly. Without these unpaid carers, the adult social care bill would likely double.

I do think families supporting elderly parents with shopping, finances and a bit of housework is a manageable thing to do but everything else, such as personal care and toileting can be supported by carers.

Ponoka7 Fri 21-Feb-20 07:17:44

"Well my mum thinks that children who move abroad if their parents are getting old are selfish"

Surely the selfishness starts when you decide to have a baby and care is given on the proviso that they will reciprocate the care?

Why clip the wings of your children?

MuscatelGrapes Fri 21-Feb-20 07:18:20

That rests on the assumption that you live close to your parents, @ukgift. I don’t, and I hardly know anyone who does.

Skyejuly Fri 21-Feb-20 07:19:23

Well they raise us. They often help with childcare. I don't think it's too much to ask if my parents need my help in old age.

Sportsnight Fri 21-Feb-20 07:20:23

It’s how the world worked til very recently (maybe the 1980s?) di it’s not surprising there’s an expectation there that children will be involved in caring for parents in the old age. My feeling is that I’d do it if wanted/ needed (though in reality, it will probably be my sister as they’re closer). It’s slightly weird how much some people are against it, in my culture it would be very normal for a parent to live with an adult child in their final years. I’m not saying move in at 50, but when they can’t cope alone.

MuscatelGrapes Fri 21-Feb-20 07:24:33

DS doesn’t ‘owe’ me. I had him because I wanted to. My job is to love him, equip with the skills for an independent life, and launch him at it.

Almahart Fri 21-Feb-20 07:28:51

I’d like a bit of moral support and help in organising care for myself but bc am certainly not expecting my dc to care for me themselves. I wouldn’t imagine that we will live particularly close to each other based on what they say they each want to do

Settlersofcatan Fri 21-Feb-20 07:29:49

You don't have to win the argument or persuade her. It's your life and she doesn't get to decide what you do with it.

Some women of her generation basically feel like women are there to care for children and elderly people and have no right to a life of their own. She can think that all she likes but you don't have to agree with her.

GiveHerHellFromUs Fri 21-Feb-20 07:30:32

I didn't choose to have children so there's someone to look after me in old age.

The plan is to make sure there's plenty enough money for me to be able to pay for around the clock care if ever I do need it.

I'd be devastated if my child put their lives on hold because I'd got old.

Damntheman Fri 21-Feb-20 07:31:20

It's wrong because giving love and care is not transactional. If she gave you love and care when you were small because she expects it to be returned some day, that's cold and horrible. If you choose to return that duty of care when she's old then that's up to you, but it should never be the expectation. The love of a parent should not be conditional upon recieving care when they're old. Ask her if she really wants you to start seeing your childhood that way.

Oh yes it's NICE if your children want to come and take care of you when you need them. But the expectation of it turns the parent/child bond into something business-like and that makes me very uncomfortable.

Twotinydictators Fri 21-Feb-20 07:31:41

I dont expect my children to look after me in old age and certainly didnt have them for that reason.

However, on the flip side, I fully intend to look after my parents as much as I possibly can when they need it. They have looked after me, I see them regularly, my kids have close relationships with them and I think however hard it will be, that's part of my role and I wouldn't want to shirk those responsibilities. They are my family, they will need my help when they are old and frail, I've 'taken' their support so it will be time to give back.

I am already prepared for that stage of their lives to come and I know it's going to be extremely difficult emotionally, financially and physically but that is just the circle of life. I would hope that I have good enough relationships with my kids that they also want to be there for me in my time of need.

Your mum is probably fearful of her own mortality and being frail and needed care. It sounds like shes seeking reasurance, in a clumsy way, as people often do! I would be letting her know I was going to be there for her in every way possible.

Daftodil Fri 21-Feb-20 07:39:13

I see my parents 2 or 3 times a week. It wouldn't be a big jump for me to see them every day if they did need more help/care, but I live about 5 miles away. My grandparents lived 250 miles away from my parents and my parents simply weren't able to help as much as my grandparents would have liked. It hugely depends on your circumstances.

Beechview Fri 21-Feb-20 07:40:41

I don’t expect my dc to look after me but I’d be so grateful if they lived near enough to pop in and see me. Maybe pick up shopping if I couldn’t get out for any reason.
Much like what I do for ils.
I don’t live close enough to my own mother to do this regularly.
I don’t expect my dc to stay close if they have opportunities to pursue the life they want either.

ItWillBeBetterinAugust Fri 21-Feb-20 07:41:17

What's unrealistic about comparing expectations in modern western cultures with what was expected 50+ years ago or in some other cultures, is that standards were different.

Quite rightly today the autonomy and self governance and social integration of anyone receiving care is paramount. Standards are high.

In the past an elderly person no longer able to get themselves to the toilet or dinner table would just be left in bed, cleaned at intervals and visited briefly with meals on a tray. People needing long term/ rest of their life care weren't got up in order to include them in family life, helped to get out of the house (especially beyond a balcony or garden) for quality of life reasons nor were their wishes fully respected.

Going back to when all care was done in the family the only expectation was that family would keep relatives fed and relatively clean, as far as manageable. No more. Perfectly fine to leave a non mobile elderly person confined permanently to one room. The standards of care accepted a hundred years ago would have relatives under social services investigation and criminal charges today.

Whilst that change is right and proper it means comparing the"good old days" with today and saying families today should do what they did a hundred years ago is utterly devoid of real meaning.

Obviously there is also the fact that old age lasts far, far longer these days - once dependent people used to die pretty quickly, but now due to better medicine, better nutrition and better care standards people can live decades in a final extremely frail state.

Expecting family to do all care in this context is a completely new and uncharted territory.

Margotshypotheticaldog Fri 21-Feb-20 07:43:21

I absolutely do not expect my children to care for me. I want to see them out in the world, making the most of their lives,making decisions for themselves.
Are you an only child op, or the only daughter? My Mil looked after her mother for years, and definitely expects her own "spinster" daughter to do the same for her. The daughter admits (after a few drinks) what a mistake it was not to escape years ago. She is 50 now, self employed but low paid, and very sad and bitter that her life has turned out like this.

JellyNo15 Fri 21-Feb-20 07:43:44

My mother cared for my disabled grandfather for years. It had a detrimental effect on her health, her marriage and our family life. Now my parents are elderly and ill. I am happy to clean and shop my siblings do the hospital visits. They refuse community carers and expect us to give up our jobs to care for them. Not happening. I also provide childcare for my grand children which I love doing and I am not missing out on that when my parents won't try to make things easier all round.

No way are my children giving up their lives to care for me when I am old and frail.

SallyWD Fri 21-Feb-20 07:56:59

As someone who's married in to an Asian family I do think our attitude to looking after the elderly is pretty poor in the UK. In my husband's culture old people are not put in to homes but looked after in the bosom of their family. I myself live hundreds of miles from my elderly parents (due to husband's work in a specialist area). I very much wish I could live close to them and be there for them now they need me. I don't mean people should give up their lives but in general we could do more. I have friends who see their old parents less than once a year.

ThatsNotMyCherry Fri 21-Feb-20 07:58:49

Someone said about that giving love is not transactional. I think that’s how she sees it and she doesn’t see anything wrong with it.

I will certainly be there for my parents and try to do whatever I reasonably can but I can’t see myself giving up work and reducing my own family’s standard of living to do that, which is what she seems to think is necessary. Apparently if they managed with her being a housewife so should uk family.

jasjas1973 Fri 21-Feb-20 07:59:49

I helped my Mum throughout her declining years, i treasure the time i spent with her.
She never demanded, rarely asked for help but this was all social care, talking shopping, odd jobs... she never in a 1000 years of wanted me to clean up her poo and i could never have done it.

She was a fantastic mum, perhaps if she hadn't been, i wouldn't have been so willing.

I hope my DD feels the same way but if she doesn't or moves abroad thats 100% fine too, she has her own life to live..... just don't expect to be in the Will lol!!! (joke)

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