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Caring for Parents Who Didn’t Care for You

I can’t fix things for these people who ask. They know that. They just want to talk. But I do assure them that they aren’t bad people for having these negative feelings. I do suggest they consider a few things:

1. If they haven’t tried it, get some counseling. Talking out your past with a trained counselor can be helpful. It can get some people over the hump of resentment, and they are more able to have some kind of active role in caring for their elders.

2. I suggest Dr. Ira Byock’s book “The Four Things That Matter Most: A Book About Living.” Dr. Byock is a hospice physician. He has witnessed many deaths. And he has seen the healing that can happen when emotionally destroyed families find a way to forgive.

3. I suggest that if they cannot give hands-on care, they may be able to find peace for themselves by hiring a geriatric care manager to handle the day-to-day needs of the elders. These people know how to get the elders needs’ met. They know who to call. Geriatric care managers are expensive, but for some people (not only those who aren’t close to their loved one) they can be very useful. Unfortunately, not every area of the country has geriatric care managers, and also they are not uniformly regulated. However,’s directory of Geriatric Care Managers is a good place to start. Please be careful with Geriatric Care Managers. I’ve noticed on-line “credentials” popping up – and I don’t mean real on-line distance learning. I mean the kind you can buy for a few bucks. This is going to be an area open for abuse until there is some true oversight. That time will come, but it’s not here yet. If you don’t have someone in your area that can be recommended by a site or an agency you know, then I’d make sure the person you select is licensed as a social worker, nurse or some elder related credentials. Always ask for references.

4. The other option for families where things are truly an emotional mess is to get a legal guardian appointed. Many areas have agencies that specialize in this. You should be able to find out where to look by calling your county adult services. If you find you need to hire an outsider to handle the nuts and bolts of caregiving, don’t beat yourself up. You have done what needs to be done to make you feel like a decent human being. Life is not always neat. You know that already. So, do what you need to do and then let it go.

5. There’s some chance that, during the process of lining up help, you may find a way to heal enough to forgive your elders and be with them, at least to some degree. Try to be aware that your parents were raised by imperfect parents. They often did all they knew how to do. That doesn’t make abuse right. It doesn’t make any of it okay. But, understanding that they are human beings with flawed pasts – they were likely abused as children, themselves – may help you reach their bedside while you still time to say goodbye.

“I Love My Mother, But I Don’t Like Her”
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The Importance of Counseling for Caregiver Burnout

Caring for Parents Who Didn’t Care for You originally appeared on


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3:17PM PDT on May 13, 2014

Those who make nasty comments or judgements about others, have something broken in themselves; they are incapable of automatically understanding that they don't know the whole of the judged-person's story. Sick people fail to control their own fears and anger--they tend to project their own insecurities and frustrations onto the target judged person[s].
To the degree a person knee-jerk judges others for failing to look the way they wish, or behave the way they wish, is some measure of how mentally/emotionally ill or broken they are.
It takes early training/sensitivity to others, to be able to look at others and automatically assume others have "stuff" going on in their lives, which they may be struggling with. More training, still, to quickly offer something as simple as a compassionate smile. It takes more security in one's own self and situations to then offer help, as-able.
Pretty much all people have some amount of brokenness from childhood, that we failed to deal with optimally. But those damages aren't written in stone, usually--when we know better, we can do better.
Those who are mentally/emotionally ill, either by damages to themselves, poor education, or biochemically--innate or induced-----will not be able to, or have a very hard time changing to become more compassionate.
To the extent someone tries to hurt us, may help determine if, or to what degree, we need to put distance between ourselves and them. It is important to forgive--yes. It's also imp

2:44PM PDT on May 12, 2014

other part of message. and greet them with a smile and or say have a nice day. Until you have walked in the other persons shoes, don't be so quick to laugh, mock, make fun of, say mean things about others. The toes you step on, may be the ass you kiss tomorrow. Vengence is no game, and God don't play. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

2:40PM PDT on May 12, 2014

and may i also add, there are, and i mean ARE, so many frigid, cold hearted, selfish, rude people in this world, and a lot of people are hurting for many reasons. i have seen people judge someone because they don't smile often, (i was one of them that was judged and continue to be judged but i really don't care, and they judge you if you don't mix and congregate with others like they should or they think you should. you never know what a person is going through mentually, emotionally, and or physcially. it's so easy for those with out a heart to criticize others. a simple hello, can heal a person, perk them up, instead of smile, or why you look so down? or what's wrong? (knowing darn well you really don't want to know) How about a smile, a good morning or eve or just a smile, that can do wonders to the person hurting for what ever reason on the inside. People don't know people's stories so it's time to stop misjudging and replace that with a simple hello. You never ever know, you could be saving a person's life just by being nice to them. The world is more evil then good sad to say. One time this man was on the metro and he was talking out loud about people looking mean, evil, go back to bed and get up on the right side, life is good, no reason to look so mean and i wanted to say to him so bad, (EXCUSE ME, YOU DON'T HAVE THE HEARTS AND MINDS OF OTHERS, YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT PEOPLE ARE GOING THROUGH SO INSTEAD OF PUTTING THEM DOWN, HOW ABOUT ACTING LIKE A MATURE ADULT AND GREET

2:58PM PDT on May 7, 2013

Forgivness is hard, but can be done, to forget is extremely difficult. To care for parents, friends, etc that has mistreated and abused one all their life one way or another takes a lot of strength and power, and for those who have gone through such horrible experience, I take my hat off to you. It's by the grace of God I was able to forgive someone too, no, actually several people but I will never forget. It's a scare you wear forever.

11:30AM PDT on May 7, 2013

Don't get me started, but I forgave my parents when I younger. I also looked after both of them or saw to their care until they passed away. Love you mom and dad, always

8:27PM PDT on May 3, 2013

I'm impressed by all these comments from people who have been abused by those who should take care of them. I understand this pain, and from the bottom of heart I wish everyone find peace.

7:30PM PDT on May 3, 2013

Thank you.

11:30AM PDT on Jun 16, 2012

Certainly forgiveness.
But that does not mean one has to return to that person and let them continue the bad behaviors upon them.
When there was poor parenting, Forgiveness helps the child survive.

Where it can go terribly wrong,
is when the dysfunctional parents keep thinking [and sometimes twisted family members, too], that the abused or neglected child should then be fine returning to the nest where bad behaviors continue unabated, or worse.

4:44AM PDT on Jun 16, 2012

Best to forgive, but the road to forgiveness is a difficult one at times. Counseling helps.

9:06AM PDT on Jun 13, 2012

I took care of an emotionally cold mother, a physically and emotionally abusive dad who told me he never wanted me the whole time I grew up, a grandfather who molested me since I was in diapers and a grandmother who was cruel to me and blamed me for what he did and though she knew, refused to turn him in because it would force her to feel ashamed in their small town and to have to go to work. Why? Because that is who and what I am. I am better than what they were. I have mercy and compassion. That is just me.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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