I’m all for respecting each other, and your parents – being the ones who fed and clothed you when you were little – deserve some acknowledgement, not to mention TLC in their old age. But what if they didn’t? What if they left you to your own devices? What if they behaved like Cinderella’s step-mother, or the biological mother in Good Night Mr. Tom, one of my favorite childhood books (ok, there were too many to choose from). What if those parents were abusive, put you in danger?
A decent person would of course say, they’re your parents, it’s your moral duty. And if you are intent on taking the high road, you should look past any abuse and be there for them.
But what if this selfless act put you in danger? What if your parents are horrible people and always were? Or, let’s say there’s only one parent. What if that parent were to be a narcissist, manipulative, bigoted, hurtful, vindictive? And what if you were afflicted with a condition / disease that could be adversely affected by their behavior? If you had a weak heart for instance? Or high blood pressure? Recently, I came across articles staying that some parents didn’t acknowledge their grandchildren’s allergies and gave them the very foods the children were allergic to, because “what could possibly happen?”
Are you then really obliged to put yourself (and your children) at risk just because society dictates that you need to take care of your parent? Are you really supposed to give yourself up for them, hoping against hope that your blood pressure won’t rise and kill you this time when they use racial slurs for the umpteenth time? Risking your health in the process? Do you really have to expose yourself to the constant barrage of, “how did you get this? Is it contagious? What can you do against it?” Do you really have to put yourself through the constant oy veys that bemoan your condition, not to mention the ever present, “I don’t understand how you could have gotten this, no one in our family has ever had it?”
Where do you draw the line? For yourself vs. society’s expectations?