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Esther Heerema, MSW

The Challenge of Reversing Roles with Your Parents

By July 6, 2013

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Sometimes, it's a health crisis that suddenly shoves us into making decisions for our parents. For others, it's a gradual morphing that began with a small suggestion here or there and now somewhat resembles a parent-child relationship, but upside down.

The switching of roles with our parents is one of those strange yet very common developments that those who have older parents, or parents with health concerns, may experience. It's also one that can trigger different reactions for both the parents and the adult children.

Some parents welcome the assistance gratefully and try to be conscious of not relying too heavily on their children.

Others have parents who really need more assistance but are completely resistive to it. This is frequently the case with someone living with Alzheimer's disease and other kinds of dementia. For example, they  may be unsafe in their own homes but adamant that they don't need anyone's help, much less that of their son or daughter, who in their minds remains a teenager.

So, what's one to do when you're in that role flip-flop situation? How do you make it easier for both of you? One approach that can help is using humor. In awkward or uncomfortable situations such as providing personal care, humor about an unrelated subject can ease the potential tension and distract from the task at hand.

Feel free to share your tips for coping with role reversal below. Here's my full article on the challenges of parenting your parents, including 6 suggestions for making this role change a little easier on both of you: Role Reversal: When You Have to Parent Your Parent

July 18, 2013 at 10:28 pm
(1) Joanna Poppink says:

Caution is required in these discussions. I’ve seen adult children attempt to parent their parents in order to gain control over the parents finances. Sometimes parents need to be protect themselves from their children.

Joanna Poppink, MFT
Los Angeles psychotherapist
author of Healing Your Hungry Heart

July 31, 2013 at 3:20 pm
(2) Kristine says:

With havin so much content and articles do you ever run into any problems of plagorism or copyright
infringement? My website has a lot of exclusive content I’ve either created myself or outsourced but it looks like a lot of it is popping it up all over the web without my permission. Do you know any ways to help protect against content from being ripped off? I’d
really appreciate it.

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