*Moral Responsibility to Parents


This post has been added because it is a topic I have been doing research on a lot in the last month. I HAD to post this before May ended.

I want to be very clear that I am NO expert on this topic. I am actually very new to this topic. It is something I had never thought about until a few months ago. This is a topic I want everyone to start thinking about and figure out what you think may work best for you.

My question is this: What should an adult child’s MORAL responsibility be to their parents (parents that were good to them)?

Technically, a child doesn’t “owe” their parents anything. Children weren’t asked to be born. A baby can’t sign a transactional contract. It is the parents that make the decision to have the child and are obligated to take care of them up until they are legally an adult (age 18) in the US. I believe that’s why parenthood is the hardest job out there. It is a sort of “thankless” job at certain points. Children really don’t “belong” to their parents. They are not their property even if they gave birth.

You give birth to a person who will one day be their own person with their own hopes, dreams, and feelings that may or may not have anything to do with you. That’s tough to handle as a parent. It’s tough to give so much of yourself to a person who may or may not want to associate themselves with you once they are an adult.

Again, knowing all of this…how would you answer the above question. Should you be contacting your parents every day to check up on them? Is that supposed to be your responsibility? What responsibility do you have to your parents as far as emotional support?

Of course, you want to make sure your parents are safe and healthy – but what does that entail? Should you be EXPECTED to make daily phone calls or would once a week suffice? Should you be expected to visit once a week (if you live close enough) or are holidays/weddings/funerals/family reunions enough? How do you make sure your parents see their grandchildren enough?

What kind of discussion should you have with your parents to make sure you all are on the same page as far as boundaries, and making sure you are checking in enough?

Are you obligated to go to EVERY family function because your parents say you NEED to be there? If you make it to Thanksgiving, but miss Christmas would it be a big deal?

I know many people who feel a lot of guilt for not doing enough for their parents. Yet, I don’t think they always know what they are supposed to be doing as adult children. It is not something we discuss much as a society beyond buying gifts for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and the Holidays.

How AVAILABLE do we need to be to our parents while also being there for our own life partners and or children? How available or open do we need to be when it comes to finances/household cleaning/taking to doctor’s appointments, taking out to dinners, driving to certain events, etc. for aging parents?

I believe this is a HUGE topic that affects Mental Health that is one of the least discussed in American society. I would love to hear this topic discussed more among millennials and Gen X people. I believe many other cultures discuss this much more than Americans do.

In many cultures outside the US, everyone is very aware of what their role is to their elders – especially the aging parents. I do believe they have complicated ideas about this topic as well. I would love to hear from those of Asian and African families talk about this topic.

I don’t have the answers. I’m asking because I’m curious about YOUR thoughts. Please comment below to let me know what you all think about this. I would love to continue this conversation if I get some comments coming in.

Peace and Blessings!

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