Caring for a Parent
It may not be fair, but teens are often called upon to care for a parent. Whether it is due to a short virus, broken limb or long-term illness, there are times that parents can’t do it all on their own and a teen is the most suitable person in the home to lend a helping hand.
However, just because you are available to help care for a parent does not mean that caring should become your full-time job. You are still a young person who should be concentrating on your own education and social life, so finding support if you need it is imperative.
Understanding the SituationFor teens who are called upon to care for a parent, understanding the situation is of the utmost importance. If you don’t already know, find out what the injury or illness is, what the prognosis for the future is, who your parent’s doctors or therapists are, and if there are any types of medications that will be taken (and when, and how). When you are armed with all of this information you can begin to make informed decisions about what you can do and what you will not be able to do. For example, while you may have no trouble cooking dinner for your parent, you likely won’t be home to feed them breakfast and lunch as well. Once you know your own limitations you can begin to find help for when you are need it.
Finding Extra HelpAs a teen, no one would expect you to devote your life to caring for a parent and you should not feel as though you need to do so either. Your ability to care for a parent is not linked to your love for that parent, so don’t feel guilty or as though you are letting your parent down simply because you are unable to attend to his or her every need. Talk over your situation with your parent’s doctors and therapists, your relatives and adult friends, adult members of your religious community, your teachers or even a school counsellor. These adults should be able to help you sort out plans for caring for your parent in the short term, or viable options regarding a parent’s care for the long term.
Knowing Your LimitsNot only is it important to understand the physical limits of how much you can do for a parent, but it is important to understand your emotional limits as well. As a teenager, you are not supposed to be as mature and responsible as other adults, but you are meant to have free time to sort out your thoughts and feelings about many different subjects. Drawing up a list of activities that you enjoy doing and can do on your own, such as indulging in a bath, taking a walk, going to the gym or even letting all your cares go away and napping for a little while, is a great way of always having an idea on hand when you need one.
Caring for a parent isn’t easy at any age, but it can be extremely difficult for teens. Not only should teens bear in mind the physical limits of what they can do to help a parent, but the emotional limits as well.