I was listening to The Debaters on CBC. One of the contestants, commenting on the advantages of staying home to look after his children, said it was worth all the trouble as he knew that his son would put him in a nice ‘home’ when he is old.
why is it such a hard thing? Still in Canada, parents speak of spending their old age in a ‘home’ in a disgruntled way. I remember one of our relatives caring for his old mother in Iran: the mother was incapacitated and the family didn’t have proper means of caring for her at home. But of course, no one would think/hear of placing the elderly mother in a nursing home. I knew of another family who went to emotional and financial ruins after years of caring for their father who suffered from one severe problem after the other. He passed away after twenty-five years of non-stop bed-rest, and the family, frustrated and exhausted, fell apart.
Living in a nursing home or senior residence does not have to equate with being abandoned. Though, in practice, it unfortunately often is. The elderly have some degree of independence, programs, and activities. And there is nothing to prevent them or their relatives from visiting them as often as they wish. Is caring for the elderly a feasible option for many people with jobs and children? A strong family and social network as well as adequate financial resources can be very helpful in managing care for the elderly, but how many people have these?
But of course, there is the other issue of caring for children. As far as I can see, many parents send their children to ‘homes’ at very young ages. I often wonder how parents can let go of babies in nurseries and day cares. I know quite a few, who, after giving birth, ship their children overseas to grandparents to care for them. The reason? They want to study, to work to make lots of money, or they just don’t have the time for the baby. They have their own lives, careers, and the babies are an obstacle to their living life exactly the way they want. I sometimes wonder whether these children would recognize their parents if they saw them on the street?
I am not talking about destitute people who send their children somewhere to save them from starvation or foul future owing to lack of opportunities. These are educated professionals who earn a great deal of money who cannot find time for the children they bring into this world.
I have an acquaintance who always tells me that they have so much money they don’t know what to do with. And then he tells me that his wife leaves for three days in a row to travel to another city to take a contract to make more money. They have three houses, two cars, savings, bonds, … Their children, by their own admission, were raised in nurseries and day cares. And now that they are teenagers, the parents don’t understand why their children seem like strangers to them.
I am not sure that the children who are brought up in nurseries or in other countries without their parents are the same ones who put their parents in nursing homes. But I do see a trend: parents leave their children behind and later on children leave them behind. Will we ever have time for anyone else? Our children or our parents?