Our parents v. our own family

Do the needs of our parents trump our desire to form a family of our own?

One of the replies I got to last week’s email on reciprocity was from a woman whose responsibility to care for her mother has led her to delay, perhaps forever, her ability to become a parent.

Her mom believes this is fair: she raised her daughter, so her daughter now owes her care in her old age.

The mom did her part, now it’s the daughter’s turn to do hers. Not as a mom, but for her mom.

Her daughter feels that her responsibilities to her mother shouldn’t be so great that she is unable to have a child of her own.

What obligations are we born into?

Are parents responsible for meeting our needs until we’re 18 and then we’re responsible for meeting their needs for the remainder of their lives?

Do our responsibilities to our parents override our desire to form a family of our own?

What if we want caregiving to be part of our life, not all of it?

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Many people have retired early or shifted their careers to provide care to a family member. It’s not easy to talk about, but we do talk about it.

People are less likely to discuss how caregiving contributed to the end of their marriage, led to their children being an afterthought, or led them to never create their own family.

It’s something that needs to be discussed.

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This is a reminder of how many people provide care out of a need to repay their debts, either moral debts to their family members or as underpaid care workers with literal debts.

So much care work is coerced. It’s no wonder that we become burnt out. Care work is very different when it’s performed freely from when it’s done under duress.

Is social media stressing you out?

Before you delete apps off your phone, remember that you can control what shows up in your feed.

On Facebook, if you want a break from a certain friend, you can snooze them or unfollow them (which removes them from your feed without unfriending them).

Click on the “…” menu next to a post in your feed. Select snooze or unfollow. Then you’re done.

It’s hard to stay in touch with people outside of your inner circle without social media. Social media replaces the casual contact I used to get when I was in school or growing up in a small town. I don’t “bump into” people anymore, at least not outside of social media.

Controlling what sort of things you see helps make social media a helpful tool — a nudge to stay connected with old friends, neighbors, coworkers, distant relatives, and acquaintances — rather than a source of stress.

If you opt to skip social media, what do you do to keep yourself connected to your community?

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