Most adults understand that becoming a caretaker to their aging parents is something that should be considered with care. There’s a lot of content out there for adults caring for their parents that explain the physical, emotional, and financial strain this could have on them. Yet, what isn’t covered is how it impacts their families – especially the children.
Sure, your kids may have a close bond with grandma and grandpa. They may even be excited about the idea of having them move in. Be that as it may, this transition is going to impact your children psychologically. As a parent, it is important to know how to get your children through this transition while also tending to their emotional needs.
How Children are Affected
Having your aging parents move in with you isn’t all bad. In fact, having them in the home can help to strengthen your family bond, provide another source of support for your children, and even help to teach your children about responsibilities and caring for those in need.
Unfortunately, however, this transition isn’t without some downsides. When you become a caretaker for your aging parents, your children do not have the same access to you as before because you now have to divide your time, energy, affection, and support. They are also often asked to help out more around the house, which is great for developing responsibilities, but can lead to resentment and even frustration.
As not all children are vocal with their feelings, they bottle these feelings of rejection, abandonment, anger, and resentment inside and lash out in other ways. They might start misbehaving at home or in school, picking fights with their siblings, isolating themselves from everything and everyone, and even taking risks like abusing substances (for attention and/or to numb the pain).
How to Make Things Easier for Your Children
If you’re presently in a situation where your children are acting out or even suffering from substance abuse, you should immediately get them help from a school guidance counselor, a therapist, or look for adolescent treatment in California (or wherever you’re located) to get to the core problem and learn effective solutions. At the end of the day, however, prevention is key. So, if you’ve decided that the best thing is for your aging parents to move into your home, here are some tips for making things easier on your children.
Talk with Your Kids Before the Move
Not to say that you need your child’s permission to move your aging parents into the home, but letting them know in advance and getting their input can make a big difference. Express why you’ve made the decision, what’s going with their grandparents, and even discuss how things will change. After talking, listen to what they have to say and try as best you can to debunk or resolve any fears and apprehension they may have.
Be Mindful of How Much Assistance You Ask for
It’s one thing for the kids to pitch in as a family and another for them to start feeling like assistant caretakers or babysitters. This can cause resentment between you and your children and the kids and their grandparents. So, don’t overdo it on the responsibilities when it comes to caring from grandma and grandpa. If you need assistance, it is often best to look to other adults or home care.
Allow Them to be Kids
The worst thing you can do when caring for your aging parents is forcing your children to sacrifice so much that they can’t enjoy life. Their lives have already changed dramatically and they need the carefree moments of just being a kid to get through it all. Don’t keep them from participating in activities, hanging out with friends, or simply playing around at home.
Find the Time for Them
Last, but not least, you have to find time to be there for your kids and also spend quality time with them. While they understand that you have a lot going on with their grandparents’ care, you don’t want them to feel abandoned or like less of a priority in your life. No matter what it takes, it is important that you find time to dedicate to just your children. Whether it’s one-on-one conversations in the mornings, scheduled outings, or weekly family nights, they need to know they still matter.
Taking care of your aging parents in your home may be the best decision, however, it will have its challenges. That’s why it is not only important to take care of yourself, but to be mindful of the psychological impact this has on others you care for such as your children. Use this advice to ensure that your children’s mental wellbeing remains intact as you go through this transition.