Thursday, May 14, 2009

Link between dumping babies at daycare & ignoring elderly parents?

I am concerned about the frequency and indifference with which adult children dump their elderly parents in retirement homes. (Be clear, I do not mean elderly persons with medical conditions or even those with a passion for dorm style community living.)

The website youcanbetheone.com is horrifying. I get the sense from the commercials that adult children should do whatever they can to get their parents diagnosed as demented. There are so many reason that elderly people act strangely - for men, it can be a complicated UTI and both men and women can just be depressed or stop eating properly.

I believe that there is a direct correlation between adults who dump their babies at daycare and adults who dump their parents in nursing homes
. The common denominator is a sense of not wanting one's life disrupted and selfishness.

Certainly there is a difference between single moms who are just trying to survive. Those are not the selfish people to whom I am referring.

But, for example, I know many dual income couples where both the husband and wife (as opposed to the honorable titles of "mom" and "dad") are attorneys or physicians. As an attorney myself, I do not get why a woman would become an attorney, complete the birthing process and then return to the legal career a few months after child birth.

Why have the child at all if the all mightily legal job was so important that the child needed to return to the career before the child started school?

There is one husband and wife that I know (both attorneys) who popped out two little girls and then dumped the babies at about six months so that the wife attorney could return to her legal career. Gee, she must be involved in a critical area of law - protecting vulnerable people from abuse, protecting the innocent but convicted from death row? Nope. Not so much. She is an insurance defense attorney. Her children received the critical bonding from a stranger while she protected irresponsible property owners from reimbursing an injured plaintiff and protected "bad doctors" like Dr. Chris Dangles (Carle Clinic Association, Urbana, Illinois).

Now how does abandoning an infant relate to abandoning an elderly parent (or parent-in-law)?

The strongest of us are placed on this Earth to care for the most vulnerable. And an elderly parent (or parent-in-law) may every bit as vulnerable as an infant.

The couple I know (that dumped the babies at daycare) demonstrated what I believe is expected indifference when one of their dad's became weak and ill. No sooner had the man passed then the grieving widow was rushed into a retirement home. Ahhh . . . now we can just concern ourselves with our personal needs.

I imagine 40 years from now. The attorney couple will be in their 70s and 80s. The beautiful little girls that bonded with daycare workers will be middle aged women.

Undoubtedly, the lessons about family values and caring for the vulnerable will result in the attorney couple being considered a burden and an inconvenience by their own adult daughters. That is precisely what the little girls have been taught by example. Sweet irony.

My decision to put my life in a different direction because of my dad's illness was a lesson my mom and dad taught me.

When I was 10 years old my maternal grandmother came to live with us. She was 72 years old at the time and remained at our home until she died in her 90s.

My parents showed me by example that my family would always be a safe place to land - a place where personal sacrifice would pale in comparison to protecting one another.

Our country, our government, our President Obama are likewise demonstrating (by the proposed legislation to ration health care for seniors) that the elderly are inconvenient, burdensome and . . . expensive.

We must all stand up for seniors. God willing, we will all be there someday.

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