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Multiple Roles: Handling the Guilt /
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Multiple Roles: Handling the Guilt
By Helen Hunter, ACSW, CMSW
There are many stresses and strains
in the relationship between adult children and their
aging parents, but one of the greatest of these stresses
is the daily responsibility of caregiving. Providing
hands-on care, food, shelter, clothing, transportation
and companionship, as well as serving as financial
manager and counsel has become commonplace for many
adult children. Most also have a number of other
responsibilities as well: to their spouses or
significant other and to their own children, to their
place of employment, to their social or church
affiliated groups and to their friends. Individuals in
this situation are seen as the “juggler,” trying to give
equal time and consideration to all who want their time
and attention, with little time and consideration left
for their own health and welfare. As you can guess, this
is not possible to do on a sustained basis before
something starts to erode. In most cases, this
“something” is the caregiver’s patience and own ability
to cope with daily life. Is it any wonder that people in
this “Sandwich Generation” cry out “What’s left for me?”
and “How can I satisfy everybody?” The answer is - YOU
CAN’T! Superman and Superwoman only live in the comics!
There are many feelings and emotions that stem from this
constant stress and strain of serving as the main
caregiver. These include: frustration, anger,
resentment, inadequacy and guilt. Why are adult children
full of these feelings, particularly guilt? They often
ask the following questions:
What else can I do to keep Mom or Dad comfortable?
Am I doing the right thing - have I explored all the
They took care of me, why can’t I take care of them now
when they need me the most?
Am I weak/incompetent/selfish?
If I don’t devote all my time and energy to Mom or Dad,
will I be a bad “child”?