The ‘Self Help’ Trap

The Problem of Self Help

Everyone wants to be better at something right? Like most recovering overachievers, I have a complicated relationship with perfection. While I am certain I can become a better version of me with the help of self-help books, seminars, life coaching and spiritual quest, I know for a fact that I can never achieve perfection.

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Most therapists, counselors, psychologists will agree that women are multi taskers. While men see facts and ‘the bigger picture’; women are designed to know and work with details so we try to get all the information that we need to be that effective and productive woman.

In the book The Relief of Imperfection written by Joan Webb, she summarizes what women go through just to feel they are growing as making things better.

“Books, magazine and newspaper articles, reality and news shows, commercials, internet pop-ups, websites, stores, doctors, schools, fitness centers and even churches present methods and habits we can and should adopt to look younger and trimmer; be healthier and more energetic, work faster and better at home of in the office. Be more successful; make extra money; maintain consistently satisfying relationships; obtain more education; improve our cooking; time management; home décor; parenting skills; build a bigger, better and more organized  house; be a more loving mate; enjoy increased fun and additional exciting vacations; enhance social interaction with neighbors, other moms  and colleagues –all while keeping up with technology, avoiding overload, reducing anxiety and stress, developing personally and spiritually, giving generously to the hungry and hurting, and doing all with greater love, patience, joy, self control, peace, persistence, passion and care.”

This is me. I can relate. I do believe there is nothing wrong of achieving such things, the real problem is, I am not designed to accomplish all this – and it’s okay. Even God did  not create the world in one snap…he created it slowly in seven days, in a time He think is best!

“Of course, perfectionism has its benefits, especially in work, where it motivates over-achievers to pursue high standards and new visions. Perfectionists are driven to improve and innovate. They are disciplined and detail-oriented; both of which are critical in professions where there is no margin for error…Steve Jobs and Martha Stewart are frequently credited with insisting that their teams strive for perfection.” wrote Amanda Neville in her blog.

It is to my shame that I can be impatient with other people who I think cannot do a great job with the task they are given. I think if I just do it myself it will be perfect or at least better! My colleagues usually say “Let go Lorraine. Let go”. Having that perfectionist attitude in me actually makes me not ‘a better’ person.

“Perfectionists, experts now know, are made and not born, commonly at an early age. They also know that perfectionism is increasing. One reason: Pressure on children to achieve is rampant, because parents now seek much of their status from the performance of their kids. And, by itself, pressure to achieve is perceived by kids as criticism for mistakes; criticism turns out to be implicit in it. Perfectionism, too, is a form of parental control, and parental control of offspring is greater than ever in the new economy and global marketplace, realities that are deeply unsettling to today’s adults.” According to Hara Stroff Morano on her blog in Psychology Today.

I am guilty of this behavior. Oftentimes I expect my husband to be better in some ways. I expect my kids to be excellent in everything they do from having the proper manners to dressing up themselves. I grew up already being a perfectionist. I would stay up late to study to achieve that perfect test score. I guess I had a little bit of obsessive behavior.

The problem of Self help books

Because we have this desire to be better and perfect, we turn to SELF HELP books. You think you are always One book away from a much better you..

My library has all kind of self help books i have bought through the years. I have an array of fitness books how to flatten an ab and build core muscles. Another set of managing your time, how to make friends, being a leader who can influence, how to be a highly effective person, having the wisdom to make the right choices, DIY books, how to understand the mind and behavior of men; how to raise up awesome kids; how to have a dynamic marriage; how to deal with difficult people and how to manage my Bipolar Disorder. And to mention having tons of spiritual books and different versions of the bible! So while I could fill my library with all these books, the fact is: Real change is hard!

Oftentimes, I read several books simultaneously. In reality I hardly have the time to read most of it because I have other million things to do as a mother and part time designer. They end up in my pile of unfinished books I have not been able to get through.

The self help book industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. It fills bookstores and conference rooms. It’s made media celebrities out of people and capitalized wildly off the growing self-consciousness of recent generations. Mark Manson reiterated this in his blog. He shared 4 things about the problem of self help.

1. Self Help Reinforces Perceptions of Inferiority and Shame

Two types of people get hooked on self help material: those who feel something is fundamentally wrong with them and they are willing to try anything to make it better, and those people who think they’re already generally a good person, but they have some problems and blind spots and want to become great people.

2. Self Help Is Often Yet Another Form of Avoidance

George Carlin once joked that self help was a paradox because if someone was actually capable of helping themselves then they wouldn’t need to read a book on helping themselves.

3. Self Help Marketing Creates Unrealistic Expectations

Although theoretically I have no issue with the profit-motive in the self help industry, in practice it causes problems. With the profit-motive, the incentive is not on creating real change but creating the perception of real change.

This can be done with placebos, teaching clients to suppress certain negative feelings or to pump their temporary emotional states. It can be done by gratifying anxious people with more information and neurotics with relaxation techniques. These are all short-term solutions that create the sensation of accomplishment and improvement, but almost always dissipate within a few days or weeks.

4. Self Help is (Usually) Not Scientifically Validated

Here are the self help practices which have been shown in scientific studies to have some validity: meditation or mindfulness, keeping a journal, stating what you’re grateful for each day, being charitable and giving to others.

Here’s what the science is hit and miss on (it usually depends on how or why it is used): Neuro-Linguistic Programming, affirmations, hypnotherapy, getting in touch with your inner child.

Here’s what is complete crap: Feng shui, manifestations, tarot cards, telekinesis, psychics, crystals, power animals, tapping, the law of attraction, anything supernatural or woo woo.

Remember the case of James Arthur Ray, the author of ‘The Secret’ a NY Times Best Seller book for months?. Millions bought his book and he became an instant celebrity. He facilitated a program called the “Spiritual Warrior” program. The over achievers crowded into the dark, windowless space and sat in two tight rings around a pit filled with heated stones and this was called “the sweat lodge.  Many had spent more than $10,000 to be part of it. He required his devotees to participate into this and they obeyed because they were told that overcoming ‘death’ is overcoming fear in your life. It culminated five days and was promised that this ceremony is the “catalyst for personal transformation. After hours later, several people died.

Our quest of being better or being perfect is addictive. We are not satisfied of what we have and who we are because society tells us that we need to be better because it is the only basis of success. I have to meditate about this myself and not fall into this trap.

Although the bible says “Be perfect because your Father in Heaven is perfect”, we can never ‘play God’. Playing God is trying to control events, people, situation and to make certain that things in our life come out right -or the way we want them too.

It is only through imperfection and accepting our limitations and weaknesses that God can work fully and transform our lives. If we try to conceal our fears of being weak, or denying that we are not better, we miss the whole essence of being a ‘human’. Failures are not all quite bad for your self esteem. And I will certainly never get flatter abs if I don’t take care of my self –esteem problems first!.

I have come to realize now that the only and truly Self Help book I can rely on is the Bible which I already have. It has the real ‘blue print’ how to live a life to the fullest, becoming a better person and attaining true knowledge and wisdom.

While writing this blog, It just dawned on me that it is only through reading the bible that helped me get through the darkest days of my life – and to truly ’help’ myself.

So the next Self Help Book and a NY Times Best Seller that comes out in bookstores, I’m gonna say ‘pass’ this time. :)

Accepting Other Peoples Differences

We are all the products of our own individual upbringing and experiences so it is completely natural that we will all have differences in opinions on a wide range of issues.

The world would be a very dull place if we were all the same and it’s the incredible diversity amongst people throughout the world that makes it such a fascinating place.

 diversity

The World is Getting Smaller

Cheaper air travel and the internet has made the world seem a much smaller place and we are increasingly brought into contact with people from many different ethnicities religious backgrounds, languages, cultures and belief systems. You can see this every day on TV, on the news, in newspapers, out and about in society etc. To feel comfortable about people whom we encounter means that we must feel comfortable about ourselves and this means accepting ourselves for what we are.

 Prejudices

Unfortunately, many people put up barriers to protect themselves instead of opening themselves up to others. This, in turn, leads to a mistrust of others regardless of colour, religion, gender or any other stereotypical excuse given as to why we fear others and, on a global scale, this is often borne out in the wars that we see around the world and in an increase in terrorist activities. We all know that these kinds of responses only really fuel further mistrust yet, even in our own immediate environments such as the workplace or even in our local pub, we all tend to congregate in our little groups without giving much thought to others around us.

Benefits of Being Open to Others

When we get to learn about others and respect our similarities and our differences, we get to learn so much more about the world and about ourselves and this helps us to grow spiritually, instead of stagnating. It also opens the doors to many other opportunities, be they friendships, work prospects, travel possibilities or a wider understanding of the world in which we live.

How to Become More Tolerant and Accept Others Openly

Many people who are fearful of others are not so because they have any sense of resentment towards them but because they’re not sure how to go about communicating with them and also because they fear that their own little ‘cocoon of protection’ might be threatened. In other words, they make the mistake of believing that others’ viewpoints and opinions might open them up to the risk that their own opinions may be deemed worthless. This is simply not true. What is important is that everybody is entitled to a viewpoint or opinion and we should respect that right even if we don’t necessarily agree with it.

Tolerance is the key but you can still maintain your own identity and still have valid viewpoints. Remember, even identical twins have their own individual experiences and opinions and you probably don’t agree with everything your parents or children say but does that necessarily compromise you?

There are many things we can do to move towards accepting other people’s opinions and respecting our differences. At a very basic level, we should treat others with the same degree of respect as we would like to be treated ourselves. We should embrace our differences, not be afraid of them and we should never judge a person on our first impression which is often about how he or she looks. Taking the time to get to know the person within is a far better indicator than pre-judging them on appearances alone.

Getting to truly know a new person who we may feel is quite different to us can be a very rewarding experience. It’s true that when we’re looking to make friends or start relationships that we tend to gravitate towards people we believe are similar in outlook to ourselves but in restricting ourselves to that mindset, we can often miss out on many interesting experiences.

Be Prepared to Listen

Communication isn’t simply about talking. In fact, some of the best communicators on the world stage tend to be less ‘vocal’ than we might think they’d need to be to be effective communicators. Take Kofi Annan at the UN for instance. He holds one of the world’s most powerful positions when it comes to mediating between powerful people from different countries often with major differences in opinion but he’s good at what he does as he’s a good listener and, in effective communication, it’s listening that’s often the key.

 Take time to listen to other’s opinions and acknowledge them and also be confident to express your own. Listening to other’s opinions doesn’t mean you have to deviate from your own firmly held viewpoint, although a diverse opinion to your own can sometimes make you think about things in a different light. This is all part of a maturing of the mind. It’s not about convincing others that you are right or about them convincing you that they’re right but simply a matter of being understood and an acceptance that you might agree to disagree.

If people become more tolerant towards others and take time to get to know some of those with whom they were unfamiliar with previously, it would lead to a far more peaceful and understanding world and, ultimately when considering your own self-growth, an acceptance of other people’s differences is a sure-fire way of gaining a more complete acceptance of yourself.

The Church and Mental Illness

Woman-Praying

Mental illness is still murky territory for those who experience it, their families, and their church.

For many Christians experiencing mental illness, the church can be both a place of welcome and alienation. Just as society has struggled with how to deal with those with mental illness, Christian churches have found the area equally challenging. As a church we’re just beginning to address the issues on a church-wide and institutional level.

The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that one in four Americans has a mental disorder. Of those, one in 17 has a serious mental illness such as major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, or borderline personality disorder.

The prevalence of mental disorder across the globe is also rising. I was one of the many who was ‘officially’ diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder in the Philippines 15 years ago. I do believe that more people with Christian faith background may have fallen to some form of mental illness in Asia and other countries.

So the people next to you in the church may have a mental illness or have family members who have mental illness. By virtue of Baptism, we’re all equal members of the church, and we need to be mindful of that.

Awareness

As research has shown that mental disorders aren’t just moods to be shaken off or, in severe cases, uncorrectable issues requiring time in a mental institution, the stigma once attached to them has slowly been eroding.

I felt a lot of shame in the beginning having a mental disability because I served as a full time staff in the church when I was single. It wasn’t even known to people I served just because I was still learning about this disorder. But I dealt with a lot of guilt, anxiety, and fear over my faith. It was a ‘sin’ if I thought anything that was considered negative especially when I was little bit fragile emotionally. I felt the confusing suicidal thoughts even if there is no reason at all.

I do believe that the church has an opportunity to send a lot of positive messages about mental illness, but changes are still very slow.

I see some churches now who take more of a holistic approach to mental illness. A “synergy between religion and psychology” where there is an awareness of the biological, social, psychological, and spiritual aspects of a person suffering mental illness. I am very fortunate to be in a ministry that supports this approach.

Suicide is the biggest area of attitude change for the Christian Churches. It still describes it as “gravely contrary to the just love of self”. “Suicide is not a sin anymore,” says Nancy Kehoe, a psychologist in Cambridge – who in her recent book, Wrestling with Our Inner Angels, talks about working with suicidal patients. “Other religious traditions have not taken that approach yet.”

A Real Disability

Mental illness outreach within the Christian Churches has often emerged from other disabilities work.

Kehoe thinks there’s been a vast improvement in the “sensitivity and sophistication” of understanding mental illness, but that church outreach in that area has taken more time compared to the outreach to those dealing with physical disabilities.

Recent Baylor University studies reflect this attitude. A 2008 study showed that almost one-third of a group of 293 Christians who approached their various churches about mental illness were told that they or their family member didn’t really have a mental disorder. Depression and anxiety were the maladies most often dismissed by church.

Repeated studies have also shown that it is the church leaders and pastors to whom people most frequently turn when they are first in mental distress, not mental health professionals.

We should recognize that churches are a natural ally. Churches understand compassion. Churches understand justice.

Share the load

If I hadn’t found the church welcoming, I probably would have turned to another religion for support or become lost without spiritual guidance.

Most Christians with mental disorders have a deep faith because of the nature of the illness. It’s such a catastrophe in one’s life that it literally drives you to your knees in reaching out to a higher power, to Christ.

I came closest to leaving the church when I was experiencing challenging times in my life. My addiction to alcohol that has been long gone transferred to another form of addiction. The women’s ministry counselor that I trusted advised me to attend another 12 Steps program. I definitely struggled with that balance between wanting to stay close to God but having to stay away from God, because I felt like I do not meet His expectations. I do not deserve to be called a Christian.

In my early years of being a Christian, a couple of ministers who weren’t aware of my illness singled me out that I was an emotional roller coaster. I was put down because of how I processed my thoughts and emotions. I realized that I needed to forgive the church because the church has always been there for me. I understand that the church is not perfect and consequently hurt every Christian because it’s human.

For me my Christian faith helped me reach stability in my struggle with mental illness. If it weren’t for my faith I don’t think I’d be here today. It took a long time, but the more I prayed the better I felt. The more I went to God and surrendered my overwhelming thoughts, the more I felt peace.

God has worked miracles in my life. I believe that God heals us, too, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t need to take your medication. I suffer from bipolar disorder and I credit my recovery to God, to my spiritual leaders and the help of Lithium and Prozac. :)

Understanding and Compassion

Outreach to those experiencing mental illness does not need to be as extensive as starting your own social service agency. Many within the church say that while the mentally ill often need a range of services-including access to medicine and counseling-churches can begin by simply making those with mental illness feel welcome. It is not anymore about having a bad attitude or unpleasant character that you need to repent of overcoming.

If only our churches knew how simple it is to be the support that people just hunger for. For so many people with mental illness, what would be most therapeutic in their lives would be relationships and friendships.

To support a friend with cancer you don’t have to be an oncologist. To support a friend with mental illness, you don’t have to be a psychiatrist.

I’d say the majority of church leaders don’t understand what mental illness is about, and they can’t identify it when it comes to their door.

Christian Church Conferences provides to church leaders, pastors, ministers training for areas like marriage, family and bereavement counseling but don’t get into “the big guns” of mental illness. I’d like to see churches host support and outreach groups not only through NAMI and other outside organizations but on their own.

I do believe that if churches do mental health ministries, they can help to keep people from falling through the cracks. People with mental illness are much sicker than they need to be, and we as Christians need to care.

People tend to believe that God is punishing them and struggle with why they were singled out for this illness. There were times I almost just gave up on Christianity. I read God’s promises in the bible but I didn’t believe it, and I couldn’t find any joy in it anymore.

I went through years of overcoming the “Why me?” struggle. My turning point came when I was in a support group hosted by NAMI and hearing the people how they are overcoming with their illness. God answered my “Why me?” with “Why not you?” It became a vision that I am a vessel to be used in sharing God’s hope and grace to people who are suffering from mental illness especially if they are battling it on their own.

I’ve seen that it is really true, that this experience can be a grace experience. Our childhood relationship with God crumbles, but we can find him anew, as an adult on a much deeper level, in a much more profound way.

Unlike many people, those with mental illness can see “the depths and heights of humanity, the soaring glory of the possible and the deep melancholy of life. And that is a gift.

We can find “beautiful in the brokenness.”

The subtle ‘sin’

Do you know which sin is the subtle enemy of simple faith?

Materialism and greed? Anger? Lust? Hypocrisy? No. All of these sins are certainly our enemies, but none of them qualify as subtle enemies.

Stop and think. Once you decide to trust God in simple faith and allow Him complete freedom to carry out His plan and purpose in you, as well as through you, you need only to relax and count on Him to take care of things you once tried to keep under control.

From now on you won’t step in and take charge. “God is well able to handle this,” you tell yourself. Then, in a weak moment, the adversary of your soul whispers a doubt or two in your ear, like, “Hey, what if—?” If that doesn’t make you churn, he returns in the middle of the night and fertilizes your imagination with several quasi-extreme possibilities, leaving you mildly disturbed if not altogether panicked. No one can tell by looking (and you certainly wouldn’t think of telling anyone), but in place of your inward peace and simple faith, you are now immobilized by . . . what?

You guessed it, the most notorious faith killer in all of life: worry.

“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” (Matthew 6:25)

Being something of a wordsmith, I find the term worry fascinating, though the reality of this in our lives can be downright maddening. To begin with, the word used by Matthew (translated here as “worried”) is the Greek term merimnao. It is a combination of two smaller words, merizo, meaning “to divide,” and nous, meaning “the mind.” In other words, a person who is anxious suffers from a divided mind, leaving him or her disquieted and distracted.

Of all the biblical stories illustrating worry, none is more practical or clear than the one recorded in the last five verses of Luke 10. Let’s briefly relive it.

Jesus dropped by His friends’ home in Bethany. He was, no doubt, tired after a full day, so nothing meant more to Him than having a quiet place to relax with friends who would understand. However, Martha, one of those friends, turned the occasion into a mild frenzy. To make matters worse, Martha’s sister, Mary, was so pleased to have the Lord visit their home that she sat with Him and evidenced little concern over her sister’s anxiety attack.

As Luke tells us, “Martha was distracted with all her preparations” (Luke 10:40). We can imagine her scurrying around the kitchen, kneading dough, basting the lamb, boiling the vegetables, trying to locate her best dishes, hoping to match tablecloth and napkins, ultimately needing help to get it all ready at the proper time. But Martha didn’t have help, and that was the final straw. Irritated, exasperated, and angry, she reached her boiling point; and her boiling point led to blame. “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me” (10:40).

But Jesus was neither impressed by her busyness nor intimidated by her command. Graciously, yet firmly, He said, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her” (10:41-42).

Worry occurs when we assume responsibility for things that are outside our control. And I love the Lord’s solution: “but only one thing is necessary.” What a classic example of simple faith!

Martha had complicated things by turning the meal into a holiday feast. Not Mary. All Mary wanted was time with Jesus . . . and He commended her for that. Mary’s simple faith, in contrast to her sister’s panic, won the Savior’s affirmation.

Originally posted by Charles Swindoll at Insight.org 

Becoming A ‘Parent’ To My Parent

adult helping senior in hospital

My mother was 84 years old when she passed away in March of last year. Everyone in our family mourned of her loss but at the same time was relieved that she now can finally rest in peace from her long suffering illness. We have prayed to God to extend her life, but we have also surrendered to His sovereignty; God has been in control of my mother’s life.

My parents live in the Philippines and I live in the United States with Moses and our 2 young children. We did our best to visit them every other year because they were getting old and I wanted our children to build memories with their grandparents while they are still able to walk and talk.

My mother was a strong woman but her years of smoking took its toll. In 2007, she broke her left hip and underwent  a successful hip replacement. After months of extensive physical therapy, she regained her strength and was able to walk around town again.

The following year, she broke her other right hip and a new replacement was needed for her to be able to walk again. Because her health was deteriorating, the surgeon advised to postpone the operation until her body gets stronger. After several months, her health was declining instead of getting better. She couldn’t walk at all and just relied from the assistance of her caregiver.  .

When my mother started getting seriously ill and was visiting the hospital more often, my husband and I decided to see her for a longer time in 2009.  My dad, my 2 other siblings and a caregiver were caring for her 24/7 and I wanted to personally care for her as well.

In the Philippines, there are no nursing homes for the sick and elderly. It is the immediate family who cares for them and for some who can afford it, they hire  a helper or a caregiver to assist them especially if they have full time jobs.

I love my mother dearly and i will do what it takes to make her feel she is loved and cared for. My mother did her best raising me up and made sacrifices to be a great parent to me. It is now my opportunity to serve her and my turn to be a ‘parent’ to my parent.

When I saw her again, I could feel her hopelessness. I cried seeing her physical condition. She was very frail and weak. The following days of my stay, I got to fully care for her. I prepared her food, fed her, bathe her, massaged her whole body and tucked her to bed. I read to her scriptures of hope and encouragement.

I brought home a special food blender so it’s easier for her to swallow the food. I also purchased a toilet and bath chair that is designed for elderly people which we don’t usually have in the Philippines. Because she was lying down on her bed most of the time, she developed bed sores. I had to clean them and apply the ointment every 6 hours until the flesh dried up. I could feel my mothers physical pain. I retired every night with a heavy heart and I allowed myself to cry until i fell asleep.

During my stay, I rearranged some of the furniture in her bedroom to accommodate her wheelchair so she can have easier access to everything she needed. I had our kitchen and dining room remodeled as well. It was a huge undertaking for a very short period of time but i had to do what is best for her.

Although my mother was barely talking, I could sense she was asking for help. She wanted to walk again. I asked her if she is ready to have another hip replacement and she nodded without hesitation. We went to see her doctor to check whether she is physically able to have another major operation.

After a week of testing, her surgeon said she can be operated but it is going to be risky. If she will go under the knife again, she may lose a lot of blood and may not make it. I took a deep breath and communicated clearly to my mother about the risks, that she may possibly die on the operating table.

She whispered to me “I am ready to take the risk.” I realized she was making a ‘matter of life and death’ decision because I was committed to see her get better. For her, as long as i am physically beside her, it is going to be okay. She has a deep faith in God and i knew she was praying for a successful operation but I also understood she was also drawing her strength from me.

So the date was set and we prepared for the big day. My dad was not 100% on board with my mother’s decision not because he didn’t care, he was just extremely scared of the possibility that she may not make it. I had to be the one to sign a Waiver of Responsibility. The surgeon and the hospital are not liable in any case something happens to my mother during the surgery.

On the day of her operation, I told my sister I didn’t have the courage to be at the hospital. Instead, i checked-in to a hotel and prayed overnight. I pleaded to God to help my mom’s weak body handle the operation. We were all praying for a successful surgery. He granted our prayers and praised Him for his faithfulness.

I wanted to stay longer to assist in her recovery but Moses and my two young kids are waiting for me in America. On my flight back home, I had the time to recollect my memories with my parents when i was younger. I was grateful God gave me the chance to care for my mother even for a very short time. There was peace and joy in my heart.

When did they start looking so old? You keep thinking of them being the same two people they were when you were in high school, but they’re not. One day you just looked up and your parents were older or had become ill. That’s when it hits you that you might have to take care of them, like they once have taken care of you. Now is the time to start making plans and restructuring your life in order to be able to take care of your parents.

The first thing you need to do if possible is talk with your parents to see what plans they have made for their future. No one wants to get older or sick where they can’t take care of themselves, but sometimes in life that will happen. When you realize that has happen to your parents, it’s time to talk to them about their future.

Have they provided a way for themselves to be taken care of from illness or if they have become too old to take care of themselves? Will you be totally responsible for their well being in the future? Have a family discussion about their future plans, so everyone will know where they stand.

Once the decision has been made that you will take care of them from old age or illness, you should start preparing your life for that right then. Taking care of your parents is going to be a big adjustment for you and your family.

The aging parent/child relationship cannot and must not supersede the relationship between husband and wife as first priority, as this goes against the marriage vows spoken before God and witnesses to “leave and cleave unto each other”, thereby creating needless stress and strain on the marital relationship. It is extremely important to understand the difference between caring for needs versus wants, as taking care of elderly parents can often lead adult children to become enablers of their own parents without realizing it.

Some elderly parents can be very difficult to deal with, perhaps even controlling and manipulative, in a selfish attempt to dictate the lives and activities of family members. Some may even claim they are unable to care for basic needs when in reality they are fully capable physically and mentally, but choose to expect family members to cater to their every want and whim.

Having your parents move into your house will mean changes for everyone. Once you feel they will be at an age where someone else will have to take care of them, start preparing your household now. Start putting into place right now their living arrangements, especially if they’re going to be living with you. Everyone in your household need to start adapting to this living arrangement before they actually move-in.

You might have to make changes to your household from reconstruction of your property for more space, to adapting to having extra people in your house. If possible try to have separate living quarters built for your parents so they can still have some privacy, along with you. If your parents have to go to a nursing home start looking around now for a place.

You want them to be somewhere, where you and they both can feel comfortable and it’s convenient for you to get to them. Start looking early for the right place that will meet all of their requirements. If your parents are going to live with you because of an illness, start setting up your household for whatever they might need to be comfortable through-out their illness.

If they need special equipment or a nurse, start arranging that in plenty of time and not at the last minute before they have to move-in. Having an area set-up with the right equipment for all of their medical needs will make their stay more comfortable and healthy.

Changes like that to your household don’t need to happen overnight, you and your family need time to prepare mentally and physically for these changes. Planning ahead for this is the best way for everyone to deal with this change that will affect everyone’s life. When the realization finally does happen that your parents can’t take care of themselves anymore, this will be hard for the both of you.

Watching my parents turn older or becoming ill is one of the hardest things I have to go through. In my eyes I want to always see my parents, young, active and alert, unfortunately that won’t happen. As time go on our parents will get older or sick with something and need us more than ever. That’s the one thing all of us want to do is to provide for the people we love, when they can’t provide for themselves.

Taking care of your parents will make you feel good and if you have children, it will be a good example for them. Who knows, one day they just might have to take care of you.

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