Family caregiving is commonly viewed as an act of love. So much so that the phrase “caring for a loved one” is practically synonymous with family caregiving. But not every family experience is rooted in love. For example, children who have grown up with tense or even traumatic relationships with their parents may struggle with the expectation that they’re supposed to provide care for someone who doesn’t care for them.
“Not everyone comes into caregiving with ideal family dynamics,” says Lauri Scharf, a care consultant with the Benjamin Rose Institute On Aging. “Maybe the caregiver’s mom or dad had a mental health issue. Maybe they had an addiction. Maybe they didn’t provide a loving home environment. Those situations can be difficult to transcend when a parent needs help.”
Difficult, but not always impossible, Scharf adds. “In the past, you may not have had any control over your situation. But now you have a voice in how you can help and what you are and are not willing to do.”
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