Must you be a caregiver for an older parent who abused, molested, or neglected you?

Reclaim You

Remember, there are no rules. No standards. No judgements.

You get to define what is right. For you.

You may not know what that is yet.

You may be relieved that this parent is moving closer to the end of their life. And aggrieved that they need something you don’t want to give.

The decision to “do” something “for” them is less important than tending to your own emotions first. Only then will you know what is right for you.


Things to remember:

You can always change your mind.

You don’t have to respond immediately.

Others may have opinions, but it is your opinion about what to do with your time and energy that matter

Whatever you do, think in terms of “for today” and, if necessary, “for this hour”

Talk things over with someone you trust

Frame what you are going through as for you—trying to understand your own thoughts, emotions, memories.

Trust you will know what is right for you. If it is right for you, it will be right for the situation

You are allowed to set limits and boundaries

Again, you can always change your mind.

It is difficult enough to care for an aging parent, to watch their deterioration and decompensation. It is hard enough when there was an authentic two-way relationship.

When a parent hurt you as a child or adult, and you were used by that parents, a different kind of pain ensues alongside the pain typically associated when aging parents grow increasingly unwell.

You may love or not love this parent. You may wish this parents had loved and protected you. Parents—even abusive ones—were the child’s primary world. It makes sense that those old unprocessed emotions get stirred up at a time like this.


Finally, if you are caring for a parent who once molested you, and you’re finding it difficult to endure at the moment, try telling yourself this:

Today I hold the possibility, not only of healing a wound, but growing myself more deeply, fully, and with a new regard for what recovery might mean to me, including things that are as yet unknown to me—aspects of myself that will help me feel more whole and integrated. Today I take care of myself first. I ask for help and get support. I understand that I need not carry the burden alone.

*A word about abuse and mandated reportingTherapists, physicians, teachers, hospital workers, public health workers, and other professionals in healthcare and mental healthcare environments are mandated reporters of abuse, violence, and other crimes. Many professional organizations including the American Medical Association, American Psychological Association, National Association of Social Workers, etc, have guidelines about reporting.

Photo by Oliver Roos on Unsplash

About the author 

Meredith Resnick

A licensed clinical social worker, Meredith is a member of the International Association for Journal Writing, the C.J. Jung Club of Orange County, California, and an associate member of the Trauma Research Foundation. She has a special interest in healing through the expressive arts.

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