Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Family Lists: Parents with Parents

These are interesting days that we live in. The average lifespan of every American is longer now than it ever has been before. We have more advanced healthcare than at any time in our history. When originally conceived, Social Security was designed to take care of American men and women for the last few months and years of their lives. The system has stopped working because people are living longer. There is not enough money to support people for five, ten, twenty or more years.

That leads us to our issue of the hour. In past generations, children understood that their parents were going to work until their deaths, or very near it. Now it seems that children, adult children, may be responsible for their parents in some way for a couple of decades or more. This raises a host of practical, ethical and spiritual issues. What follows is my attempt to offer some direction for Christians who are dealing with these issues, or someday will be. Hopefully, there will be value in the following list for parents, and their parents.

  • Remember that you must always to love your parents (Colossians 3.20). When making decisions for or with your parents remember that they are people of value. God loves them. So should you. Your convenience is not the most important issue at stake.
  • Jesus was concerned with caring for his mother. Even at his death, Jesus was thoughtful enough to make provision for his mother’s care and protection (John 19.27).
  • Consider the feelings and wishes of your parents. Their priorities and desires may not be the same as yours. Take into account their feelings.
  • Always think about what is best for everyone. There may come a time when you will need to take away a driver’s license, a favorite power tool or kitchen utensil. Do so with love, grace, empathy and understanding.
  • Spend as much time with your parents as possible. As they get older they will have fewer and fewer friends. They will be less mobile and social. You and your family should pick up the slack. Your parents are people of value and a gift from God. Treat them as such. Make sure that they know you believe they are special.
  • When dealing with end of life concerns, be thoughtful, prayerful and considerate. No one wants to think about death, advance directives or even funeral planning. Be patient, but persistent. Be loving, but firm.
  • Remember that God is always in charge. His plans are greater than yours. His ideas are bigger than you are.

Remember where you came from. They are people who have loved you. At the end of their lives they should know that they are loved in return.

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