Should I Have to Take Care of My Elderly In-Laws?
Being a family caregiver doesn’t always stop at caring for our own aging parents. Our significant other’s mom and dad often look to us for care, too, especially if we already have a bit of experience under our belt. Some of us take on this responsibility without hesitation. Our in-laws are our spouse’s parents and our children’s grandparents. Often, we love them, or at least like them. In more difficult cases, relationships with in-laws never really blossomed or have been downright impossible to cultivate.
Regardless of how you feel about your mother-in-law and father-in-law, taking on the care of another person (or even two people) is a serious challenge. Furthermore, when your care recipient is a person who is merely a relative by marriage, how much say do you truly have in their care decisions compared to blood relatives like your significant other and their siblings (if any)? Is it our responsibility to care for our aging in-laws no matter how we feel about them? What happens if you are divorced or widowed? What is your obligation then?
Caregiving coach Cindy Laverty provided care for her former in-laws long after she and her husband had divorced.
“As odd as it might sound, I cared for my ex-husband’s parents for six years—15 years after our divorce!” she explains. “I had a good relationship mostly with my former father-in-law because he was a wonderful grandfather to my daughter. It was a journey that I was wholly unprepared for, but I learned more about myself during those six years than I ever could have imagined.”
Perhaps Laverty’s decision is considered highly unusual, but many people provide care for their spouse’s parents. Deciding whether to sign on to care for your own in-laws is a highly personal matter…
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