Being A Caregiving Parent Is Far More Than Just Parenting
It's November...another slew of monthly celebrations. So many issues vying for our attention. Some warrant it, others don't. This one does...National Family Caregivers Month. Only it needs to be 365 days instead.
Family caregivers are a diverse group -- those caring for an ailing spouse, aging parents, or those caring for (and raising) children. Their jobs are all-encompassing and, let's be honest, draining. It's 24/7/365 and many lack the care they themselves need, whether a few hours to take a walk or simply to close their bedroom door and nap. It's called respite.
For parents raising an 8-year-old with autism, an 11-year-old with behavioral issues, or spending their every waking hour monitoring their 15-year-old with depression, the caregiving needs are monumental. Often insurmountable.
There's all the "typical" parenting responsibilities, which are exhausting enough, plus ... securing, scheduling and facilitating services and supports, managing school issues, working outside of the home (even part-time), maintaining a marriage, dealing with sibling and family needs ... basically orchestrating a daily complex life that few understand. And often without help.
THE GIFT OF TIME
Respite care is one of the most important ways parent caregivers can continue doing what they do -- providing care for their children. That saying about putting on your own oxygen mask before you can help another definitely holds true here. Yet there's often no one to help these parents even reach for their mask no less give them a few minutes to breathe.
The Caregiver Action Network has provided information (including a forum) that focuses on this year's theme -- Respite -- and can be found here...caregiver resources. Caregiving is not simply about caring for aging parents, an issue unto itself, but raising our next generation of children whose needs may be far greater and require far more of their parents. It rests on their shoulders, and their ability to keep moving forward is key to enabling their children to do the same.
If someone in your life is providing care for a child they love, the best way you can show them you're aware and care is with the gift of time. Don't wait for them to ask or for a crisis to arise. An hour can make all the difference...