When Caregiving Means Overcoming Frayed Ties

By Gardner, Marilyn | The Christian Science Monitor, July 7, 2004 | Go to article overview

When Caregiving Means Overcoming Frayed Ties


Gardner, Marilyn, The Christian Science Monitor


In stable and supportive families, caregiving can produce unexpected rewards, often strengthening ties between those who give care and those who receive it.

But what happens in troubled families, where relationships are strained and normal bonds of affection are frayed? Is caregiving possible when an adult child who was abused or neglected by parents long ago now needs to care for those parents in their later years?

That's the question Ellen Eichelbaum of Northport, N.Y., has faced in the past 18 months. All through her childhood and young adulthood, she says, her parents subjected her to what she describes as "a tremendous amount" of physical abuse, coupled with emotional abuse and neglect. Explaining that she was not a submissive child, she adds, "I always had something to say. My parents couldn't deal with that."

Now her widowed mother, an octogenarian, needs assistance. The daughter is putting aside, as best she can, deep hurts as she makes daily decisions about how to respond as a caregiver. In the process, she is learning lessons in compassion, forgiveness, and maybe even love.

Nearly 34 million Americans provide unpaid care for someone over the age of 50, according to a 2004 survey by the National Alliance for Caregiving. No one knows how many of these caregivers come from family situations similar to Eichelbaum's. But as a gerontologist, Eichelbaum knows there are many more.

"It's more common than people think it is," she says.

Although married and the mother of two daughters in their 30s, Eichelbaum performs her caregiving duties without support from her family.

"My kids say, 'How can you do this, after what Grandma did to you?' " she says. "I tell them, 'I do this for Grandma because she's my mother.' " She adds, "I do what I do in spite of what was done to me. I am a bigger person because of it. I do what I feel God needs me to do."

Cases of neglectful elders come in many shades of gray - most of them not as dark as the one Eichelbaum describes. For one caregiver in suburban Boston, who asks not to be identified, family dynamics were shaped not by parental abuse but by her mother's absence during her early years.

When the woman was a preschooler, her father died. Her mother, forced to go to work, put her young daughter in an orphanage for several years, unwittingly subjecting the little girl to harsh treatment there. Although her mother visited on weekends, no real bond developed between the two. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

When Caregiving Means Overcoming Frayed Ties
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.