Archive for the ‘Role Reversal…Parenting Our Parents’ Category

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12

I turned to my 88 year old mother-in-law and asked her what the hardest aspect of growing old was.  She said the loss of independence; the need to ask people for help.

Mom went on to relate that though she is able to still live alone and still has clarity of mind, sometimes she wishes she didn’t because it is difficult to realize that she is the last of numerous friends still alive and the only remaining of seven siblings.  She made light of the situation by jokingly stating, “There is no one left to correct my stories or tell lies about me.”

Sometimes taking care of meeting her physical needs—assuring she has eaten, taken her medication, getting her to medical appointments, etc.—isn’t enough.  As I listened to her, I realized that I need to slow down long enough to meet her emotional and even spiritual health needs too.

Today I will pause and take time to pamper the young woman trapped inside that aged body that still longs to be considered lovely and valued.  Today, I will take her for a manicure/pedicure and an ice cream cone.  Today, we will make some memories filled with laughter.  Today, I won’t rush through my responsibilities for her care, but will pause and remind her that I love her with my words as well as my actions.  Today, I will be not just a care-giver, but reflect to her the love she poured out on me for the past 40 plus years.





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“My children, listen to me.  Listen to your father’s instruction.  Pay attention and grow wise, for I am giving you good guidance.  Don’t turn away from my teaching.  For I, too, was once my father’s son, tenderly loved by my mother as an only child.  My father told me, ‘Take my words to heart.  Follow my instructions and you will live. Learn to be wise, and develop good judgment.  Don’t forget or turn away from my words.  Don’t turn your back on wisdom, for she will protect you.  Love her, and she will guard you.’  Getting wisdom is the most important thing you can do.” Proverbs 4:1-7

There is so much knowledge about life in our senior population.  We can all learn valuable lessons from them if we are only willing to pause, take time to ask questions and, more importantly to listen.

My parents’ marriage was forged in the fires of tremendous life challenges—the death of a child, illness that left another child mentally and physically severely impaired, numerous relocations of the family due to economic necessities of life, chronic health issues, rebellious children—but through each challenge they stood united in their determination to be people of character and seek the Lord’s guidance.

Some may call it maturity.  I just call it growing up, but I now recognize there is much I can learn from my elders—my parents and others—those with a lot more years of experience.  God’s truth reminds me.

“Listen, my child to what your father teaches you.  Don’t neglect your mother’s teaching.  What you learn from them will crown you with grace and clothe you with honor.”  Proverbs 1:8-9.

God’s word reminds me today to take time to ask questions while I still have my parents and other elders who can offer me guidance and wisdom from the vast array of experiences they have had.  Sitting at the feet of an elder to learn and listen is a reversal of roles I would not have anticipated in my younger years, but it is one lesson I am grateful I am learning while I still have these life-coaches around to learn from.

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“Let us not become weary in doing good,

for at the proper time

we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

Galatians 6:9

“Taking time.”   This was the response of a friend to my question on her perspective as she faces a role reversal with her parents.  Pausing to listen, running an errand and serving are all aspects of this role reversal that require taking time.

My friend related that two years ago she realized there would come a day she would regret not taking the time out of her busy life to be with her mother.  The change she made in her priorities resulted in the opportunity to build some special memories with her mother that none of her siblings have experienced as she and her mom have enjoyed several extended trips.

One aspect she shared is how all of the tasks she felt she didn’t have time to complete because of the interruptions in her day by her mother seem to all mysteriously still get accomplished.  In fact, she is not nearly as stressed now.

Ecclesiastes3:1-8 reminds us that God has created a time for everything and that includes the time to sit, listen and take the time for others today.

Father, help us to have a willing heart to spend time with those around us who You have placed in our sphere.  We do not want to have any regrets!  Please give us wisdom in how we spend the time in our day today.  In Your Name, Amen.

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“He can’t remember if he is married or what he had for breakfast today, but he can tell you intricate details about the bombing on D Day.”  Alzheimer–the name of an unwelcome companion for many.

This statement was made in response to the question, “What is the most difficult aspect of caring for your father?”  My friend’s response was filled with sadness and tears.  She said, she is learning the gift of patience as she is required to repeat numerous times the information she wants to share with her father.

Yet, she also related as difficult as the situation is, it is amazing the stories from his early years she has heard only now for the first time.  Recognizing that his mind was still very alert though limited to 40-70 years ago, she started recording their conversations as a way to preserve the memories and stories for her children and grandchildren.

God also reminds us to remember the past.  (Deut 11:1-7).  “Listen! I am not talking now to your children, who have never experienced the discipline of the Lord your God or seen his greatness and awesome power.  They weren’t there to see the miraculous signs and wonders her performed…but you have seen all the Lord’s mighty deeds with your own eyes!” 

Part of honoring our parents surely includes listening to their stories, which reminds us as well as them of God’s faithfulness through those years of memories.

Oh, Lord, today, help me to pause and listen.  I grow so impatient feeling as though I have too many tasks waiting to just sit and listen.  Slow me down Lord, so I hear not just the stories of my parents, but also so I hear the stories You seek to plant in my heart today. Amen

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I remember my grandmother living with us for a time after my grandfather died.  She moved from her home and relocated to the city where we lived so she could return to full employment outside of the home at the age of 58.  As a child, it was fun to have my grandma around baking our favorite foods, singing to us, playing games with us.  But, looking back I can see it was hard on my mom to have her mother living in our home.  Communication, patience and understanding became far more critical as my mom was once again thrust into the role as a daughter.

Proverbs 17:6 reminds us, “Grandchildren are the crowning glory of the aged; parents are the pride of their children.”

This was certainly applicable in our home.  As grandchildren, we got the best of Grandma’s baking, singing and love.  Her children expressed their pride in her tenacity and consistent positive attitude.  Even when she aged to the point that she had to be helped in and out of bed, it could be heard frequently that Grandma was still adding value because of her generous spirit.

I am confident that because of that positive attitude and her desire to always serve others, it made it much easier to be generous with our time as well offering to serve her.

Peter’s mother-in-law clearly exhibited that servant attitude when she got up from her sick bed and prepared a meal for Jesus and the disciples.  (Matt 8:14-15).

The lesson I learned is that no matter the role or the relationship, when an individual is willing to serve others, they will attract love and generosity themselves.

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