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Men of Reddit. When did you realize that you that you need to take care of your parents?

I’m 20 years old and while I woke up in the middle of the night to pee, I suddenly realized “oh shit, my parents are getting old”, my mom is almost 50 now and my dad is almost 60. This realization did make me feel extremely uncomfortable and insecure because I don’t have even as little as a minimum wage job, I live with my mom, and my grades in college are suffering because of online study. My reason for feeling like I’ve wasted so much time is not because I haven’t been looking for a job or financial security before, but because my motivation as always been to get it to move out on my own and maybe find a girlfriend, and start a career that I enjoy, now I think my motivation has switched to taking care of my parents(although I still desire things like a girlfriend and personal enjoyment). So I just wanted ask other men at what age did they come to this realization? And also advice on what I should chase first, my desires or my responsibility?

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43 Comments

  1. Don’t chase the responsibility but fulfill the responsibility. Also make sure you fulfill your desires. It’s not easy to answer. You are in a good place with this realization.

  2. Bruh 60 isn’t that old, if they were 80 or 90 then your attitude would make more sense. Also I recommend you get a job ASAP, then you’ll have money to pay a security deposit and first months rent on a new place. Also, from your comments it seems like your mom is plenty capable of taking care of her self.

    My parents are older than yours and they are in no way a burden at all. They can take care of themselves.

  3. OMG, 50? You should take him outside the barn and shoot him before his ancient decrepitude gets any worse.

    Source: 50 year old man, completely incapable of doing anything anymore. When I wake every morning still alive BECAUSE THERE IS NO GOD I dislocate my hip twice trying to shuffle my way out of my orthopedic bed into the kitchen for the handful of tiny pills various doctors have prescribed me. After two episodes of forgetting who I am and why I’m there, I sit down to watch Wheel of Fortune after putting on my “special TV glasses” having used my “remote glasses” to find the extra-large numbered simplified remote my son got me. If he wasn’t occasionally there to remind me to plug in the scooter I have to use to get between rooms, I’d be toast.

    After a nap to recoup my strength, it’s off to the commode to empty my diapers because all continence stopped at 29, same as with everyone else. Have to bring at least four catheters, it’s good that they ship them discreetly at no cost to me.

    Fetching a Werther’s Original out of my cardigan, it’s time to blow my nose on one of those old-timey cloth handkerchiefs and stick it up the sleeve of the cardigan, before deciding what soft food won’t irritate my dentures too much that day.

    By the time I work that out, it’s dinner time. Time to feed the cat, turn on Murder She Wrote and fall asleep in front of the TV.

    WHY HAVE YOU NOT PUT THEM IN A HOME YET

  4. My grandma was disabled for most of my life so I grew up watching my mum taking care of her and later helping taking care of her myself so it sort of came to me naturally.

    When I should recall a moment when the gravity of the situation fell on me personally, it was when my mum called me she was in hospital with a heart condition when I was 19. I was at pub with my classmates at the moment, enjoying our afternoon beer after school, I immediately chugged my beer down, paid, and rushed to the hospital to be with her (It ended well, she got infusion and was prescribed medication. She has been going to regular checkups at cardiology since but she’s fine).

    To answer your question, I think about it simply as a part of life, it’s how things are, when we are too young to care of ourselves, parents take care of us, when they are too old to take care of themselves, it’s our turn. I don’t think you should twist your life motivations and plans drastically because of it, go with your dreams as you mentioned: move out on your own when you will be able to, find a girlfriend, start a career you enjoy etc. Just squeeze in the fact that one of the things you’ll probably do as an adult at some point of your life is taking care of your parents.

  5. Ive been having to take physical work (mostly sawing and splitting firewood and butchering) over from my dad for as long as i remember. He got diagnosed with parkinsons when i was about 10 or so and i got tought how to do everything by my brothers (whom he had tought). He hasnt toutched a chainsaw in years (he used to saw a lot but then did a course in sawing tensioned trees and never toutched a saw again) he now even claims he doesnt know how to, but i remember seeing him fell trees.

    He tried to help me with butchering once and he cut right through the achilles (wich the deer is hung from) and didnt even notice. He hasnt done more than field dressing since.

    I also do the physical work for my mom because she has a terrible back.

    To me its a part of life. Its how i earn my keep since i still live with them. Once i move out ill make shure to pop round for those activities because i dont dislike doing them and its safer if i do them than if they do.

    These people raised me and accepted me at my worst (wich i wouldnt have in their place). Its the least i can do

  6. Living through this now. For my parents for last five years and my wife’s parent’s just started since they were younger and in less old health than my parents at the same age.

    When did I realize?

    It’s hard to notice because you tend to see them as your always did. But I started to realize they were trying to “live” their lives all one one floor of their house as well as simplify everything so it was not so hard on their bodies. At first I thought it was just some phase but realized they didn’t want to go up and down so many stairs, so they moved everything they could to the floor on the bedroom: kettle, a bar fridge, a hot plate, snacks, tv, books, etc.

    The they started paying people to pretty much butcher the yard so the only maintenance was to mow the lawn (no trees no flowers, no bushes to prune). Then I noticed they did laundry every other days, so they wouldn’t have heavy loads. And my dad refused to drive at night because he said he couldn’t see as well.

    What should I chase first, desire or responsibility?

    Do both. They are not mutually exclusive. You cannot forget about your desires, and you should not ignore your parent’s requirements for help.

    If you want to move out, downsize them to a place that’s easier to take care and of, and buy a place close by then. If they have health issues and need a caretaker, then get them a care taker and budget accordingly.

    Ensure you date only women that understand this desire to take care of of your parents so you don’t end up fighting in the future. I always had arguments with women who didn’t understand why I spent so much money and time on my parents until I met a woman who thought the same thing for her parents and she was looking for a man with the same values . We didn’t work out but it spurned me to only date women with this set of thinking.

  7. A slight shift in your perspective could help you to achieve everything including life, girlfriend and care for parents.
    The word “care” is a verb. If it’s a verb, it’s an action. If it’s an action it suggests there is skill to be gained through repetition. Becoming skillful at caring will create an abundance of care. You could work toward becoming so good at caring you gain a surplus big enough to cover you, your parents, your life, a wife, children and other people and things that may come your way. School is important in order to achieve this.

  8. Lady here. Also 47. My parents are 72 and 83. My dad (who’s 83) still works and they are separated and both live alone. I’m juuuust starting to think about next steps now.

    If your parents aren’t well then I understand your fear. If not, you may be experiencing generalized anxiety (I hope not) especially if you tend to have this type of a response to other life factors.

    I strongly suggest talking to your parents honestly about any concerns you have. If not, go enjoy your 20s!!! Plenty of time to adult later.

  9. My parents are wealthy, I make good money, and I live in a civilized country that has a form of universal healthcare (i.e. not the USA). I’m not too worried. They will be well taken care of when/if the time comes for assisted living.

  10. When I was 8 and my parents asked to “borrow” my allowance? When I was 18 and I helped my sister pay her tuition? Now during the pandemic when I’m spending 1/3 of my paycheck trying to keep them above water?

  11. I’m sort of similar to you. I’m in my early 20s and it’s always been my goal to relieve the financial burden on my parents. My dad’s getting old and still having to work a crappy minimum wage job. He had to leave school early to take off his parents at the time do never really got a full education. I hope I can earn enough soon so he can stop working and I can give them enough. I feel like I owe it to them. It is sad seeing your parents grow old. We’re always concentrating on ourselves as the years go and we get older but we often forget that our parents are also getting older. Unfortunately they won’t be here forever so while they are still here I’m hoping I can give them everything

  12. My dad is 70..and I’m 24. Yes you read that right. I also have 2 younger siblings. I think growing up I’ve always kind of been taken care of him. But I’m really starting to understand that responsibility now.

    If anything it makes me work harder, earn degrees, have accomplishments. There’s just so much I want him to be able to see with whatever time he’s blessed with to still have

  13. Only child. I realized it when I was around 21 when my mom’s mother had to live with my parents (I was away in college).

    Years later, my dad took care of my mom as she was dying. Then a couple of years after that, he got remarried. I’m not sure where I’m going with this but I’m still dreading the eventuality of it all since it still all falls on me. I’m hoping my dad and his new wife live very long and when they die, it’s very quick , painless, and in their sleep. Is it selfish? Probably, but then again, I know my limits and wouldn’t be able to give them the care they deserve. I have my work and my life in a city and they live in a rural area that has no opportunities for me. Hopefully, I won’t really have to prepare for this eventuality for 10-15 years. It’s one of life’s burdens that most of us will have to face at one point.

  14. Bro. You are in your 20s 50 is young for the actual standard, and 60 is young too.

    They can take care of themselves, they are not mentally handicapped yet.

    You should make sure that they get their health checked regularly(very important) and that they eat healthy. Then live and be happy of life with them, that’s the best you can do.

    But chill, you have to live too, you have your own proyects. If you keep your mind thinking about that you will have to take care of them you will be always worried. Go on with you life, you can think about that when the day comes, until that day love a happy life, share Moments with them and make them proud of their child.

  15. 52 M here. My parents have shot past 80 and are rounding the corner for 90. Other than seeking the alternate-monthly visit from me and my brothers (we all live at least one long flight away) they get along just fine without any help from us.

    We’ve been pushing them to let us take care of them for years, but they stubbornly refuse. Old people can get cranky when you imply they need your help.

  16. You need to be chasing a job bro. How are you 20 and never worked? And thinking about taking care of somebody else.

    Your mom will take care of your dad and after that they have nurses who come to your house.

    I’ve worked with old people and they are sprightly motherfuckers well into their 70s. Encourage them to stay active and not change their routines too drastically and they’ll live a few more decades.

    But brother, you need to start working and saving money for your own retirement or your kids will one day have to worry about ruining their lives to take care of you.

  17. The important question is if your parents want you to take care of them. Don’t go out of your way to chase that responsibility when your parents probably simply want you to live your life and leave them alone.

  18. I’ve been watching it for 10 years now, and it seems to be accelerating. Parents in their late 60s. Dad tore a tendon in his knee this past summer and is no longer strong like an ox. Mom is thankfully pretty healthy, and the consummate caregiver, so she’ll take on most of the burden in the short term. They finally decided to move nearby (currently live 6 hr drive away) and will be completing that move in the next 2 months or so. This will make it considerably easier to help out and keep an eye on them.

    I’m in a financially solid place, but work pretty hard to stay there and have other responsibilities with kids of my own. I hope that my mom can pitch in with some of the ad-hoc childcare, and hope they can stay relatively independent until my kids are older.

  19. You are not in a good position to move out. Stay at home, work, save up. Then think about your next step. You can’t help your parents if you aren’t even stable yourself.

    Dating is a bit harder, but not impossible.

    It’s entirely possible to juggle the two. You don’t have to absolutely stay at home and be on call for your parents for the rest of their lives.

  20. I understand your stress, but if you’re an only child, your dad is probably prepared for this because he had you quite late. Work on getting your degree for now. Good luck!

  21. Your mom is young yet. And your dad is my age. We’ve got some life left in us. 60 today is a lot younger than it was in my parents time.

    ETA: still, pursue your goals. You’ve got time. Your parents aren’t likely to pass away for quite some time yet. You get involved in taking care of them when they can’t take care of themselves. They will cherish their independence while they have it.

  22. Unless you’re parents are in poor health their nowhere close to needing to be taken care of. IF, and that’s a big IF, they have taken care of themselves and not gotten addicted to the Medical Industrial Complex there’s no reason they can’t live independently well into their 80s if not 90s.

    OTH, if they are significantly overweight, don’t exercise and already popping pills forced on them by doctors (I’ve seen it in my own family) they may become your burden in the not too distant future.

  23. 20 years old is too young to expect that you will be able to support your parents. Work on yourself and your desires, achieving those will be how you get to the point where you can take on that responsibility. Worry about those grades and where your studies will take you, not supporting your parents. On second thought, don’t worry about them, do something about it. 🙂

    For context, I’m 45. I sure as hell don’t expect my daughter to support me at 50, even though she will be older than you are now at that point. My dad died at 68 suddenly, and my mom is alive and well at 68 now and I provide zero economic support for her. My FIL is 78 and healthy as a horse, as is his wife at 72. I don’t know your mom and dad’s particular situation, but if they’re reasonably healthy now they’re probably going to be reasonably healthy for the foreseeable future and this concern of yours is probably a decade away.

    Regardless, worry about yourself, take care of yourself, the rest will follow.

  24. When my mother was diagnosed with osteoporosis and has been gradually getting worse despite a slew of treatments the last decade. She’s recently been dealing with a lot of back pain and has had to spend some days mostly in bed because she’s in too much pain to do much else. It breaks my heart, but I moved back in with my parents so I can help take care of her (so it doesn’t fall squarely on my 73 year old father, so essentially both of them).

  25. Same situation with me, but I’m 34. Moved out when I was 19, lived all over the country, struggled with my own demons for about a decade, and now I’m just now able to start anew.

    Then I have this realization, and at the beginning of the pandemic I moved back home (not to their house, but to my state, near them).

    I loathe the area, but I know I need to be nearby. Ideally, I’d leave the US entirely and get EU citizenship (easy claim via jus sanguinis). So, I’m in the same spot as you.

    How do I continue to make myself ‘whole’ while I have to keep these pieces in place?

    Bonus points if your parents were narcissists. I still feel obligated, because I understand how they’re victims in their own right. Very difficult to reconcile. I still don’t have it myself.

  26. This might not align with your views but I’d share any ways. I came from an Asian family, what that means is that we are supposed to take care of our parents once they get old. However, due to harsh upbringing, I left early and didn’t care to care for my parents. Unfortunately it’s best to put them in nursing home or something. But even I won’t even care to do this.

    Do what you gotta do. If they raised you right and with love then I would take care of them. Sadly it’s not how I was brought us. Good luck.

  27. > And also advice on what I should chase first, my desires or my responsibility?

    Well, ask yourself this: What are the negative consequences of ignoring your responsibilities, and are they worth sacrificing your desires?

  28. 50 and 60 are usually too young to require someone to care for them. Unless they’re infirm, I don’t think you need to start worrying about it yet.

  29. Hey man, I had the same realization as you but at 22 years old when I started working a steady full-time job. Here is what I’ve come to realize:

    Before you can think about taking care of your parents, you need to take care of yourself first. You can’t help others when you can barely help yourself. I know that you might take this as selfishness but it’s not. When you’re flying in an airplane, the first thing they tell you about the oxygen masks is that you put yours on before you can help others put theirs on. Why do you think that’s the case?

    Believe me, your parents work hard and they certainly want you to be there for them when they hit an age where they literally can’t take care of themselves. That’s probably around 80-90 years old so that means your parents still got a lot in them. You can help your parents right now at your age by showing them that you are capable of taking care of yourself (study hard and get good grades, get a part-time if you can, help contribute to some financial expenses if you’re able to, buy your parent small things, and take them out for dinner/lunch/etc once in a while). Trust me, your parents will start to feel as if their hard work is paying off when they see that you are starting to be a responsible young man that they hope for. Since you are still in school, focus on your studies and try and improve your grades first. This is a first sign to your parents that their investment in their son’s education is paying off.

    When you start working a steady full-time job, make sure to save your money and invest so that at some point in the future, you can use that means to help yourself and your family. You are only 20 years old so I would say that most people your age have barely started doing “adults things” yet. Don’t compare your situation to your parents and try to appreciate what they sacrifice for you so that you don’t have to go through what they went through at your age. They gave you an opportunity so you need to take it regardless if you deserve it or not. In life, opportunities present itself in the most unexpected ways and it’s up to you to seize them.

  30. About 5 years into my dads Parkinson’s. Watching your parent slowly erode when they were a vibrant person is one of the cruelest things life throws at you and you will not be prepared.

  31. I’ve been lucky in that regard. My mom and dad are 77 and 83 and still healthy, active, and self-reliant. My dad still runs his business. Also my dad remarried and his second wife is probably going to be the one looking after him if he ever become dependent on the care of others.
    Might well be that I don’t need to take care of my mom until I’m retirement age myself … and I have a brother and sister so we can split the responsibilities.

  32. My parents are both over 60 and still able to take care of themselves, heck my grandma is in her 80s and she also takes care of herself just fine. People don’t all automatically become useless once they hit 60. I suppose though I also had another grandma who suffered from Alzheimer’s but my dad put her in a medical care place specifically for that.

    Is there something specific about your parents that makes you worry about their age? I’d say have a plan but don’t stress out too much about it and try to enjoy your own life.

  33. Around the point where they kinda stopped organizing their stuff and I saw both of my parents struggle with getting things out of cabinets. Not that it was heavy or they were having serious weakness, but with the way they arranged things was like the worst possible game of Tetris, and a serious accident waiting to happen.

  34. Around the point where they kinda stopped organizing their stuff and I saw both of my parents struggle with getting things out of cabinets. Not that it was heavy or they were having serious weakness, but with the way they arranged things was like the worst possible game of Tetris, and a serious accident waiting to happen.

  35. 50-60 isn’t old. At all. As long as they’re relatively healthy they’ve easily got another 30 to 40 years man.

    Don’t stress about it. You’re 20. Nobody is expecting you to take care of anything.

  36. After “making it” the most sobering experience is realizing that you are the financial safety net of your immediate family.

    It’s a huge responsibility and you need to decide for yourself what your own limitations are. After that, you establish boundaries. Some family members might try to abuse the relationship. Conversely, others might not ask for help they need out of pride.

    My three rules for family and money are:

    1. Anything given is a gift (no loans)
    2. You don’t tell other people about your charity
    3. Don’t be a black book bastard, but have boundaries

  37. I’m aware of the complete shut down still in Canada. Sorry your leaders are such schmucks. Here in the U.S., during Covid, there were lots of jobs to be found in the delivery industry. You don’t even have to work for someone else. Just put out signs advertising you will deliver stuff or go to a restaurant offering takeout and offer them a delivery service. Or go to one of those “internment hotels” and stick a sign towards the windows offering your delivery services. You might make some good bucks.

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