Therapy 101: Why You Should Take Care Of Your Previously Abusive Parent

I did not have the best relationship with my father – I should put it out there now. We used to live in the ghetto, and it was common in such a place for kids to not know who their dads were. Hence, some people were like, “You should be thankful that you have seen your father while growing up. Others have not had that experience at all.”

I did not want to sound more privileged than I already seemed to those people, but I genuinely wanted to reply that I wished I was among those fatherless children. Oh, is that too bold and harsh? While I know that, it also happens to be the truth.

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You see, when you do not have a dad, you have the freedom to be idealistic about his traits. “Is he generous?” “Did he like taking care of me?” “Does he like apple juice like I do?” Sometimes, you even get to believe that your mother’s behavior is the reason why your father has not been able to stay.

In my case, though, reality practically slapped me. Hard. I had never seen work in my entire life. Often, he would be out drinking and gambling with his friends. If he ever came home, that’s because he needed more money from mom – money that she did not have. She would try to talk back to him, but it would always end with her on the floor with a black eye or a swollen cheek.

I used to tell people that the happiest day of my life was when my father left us for good. From what I heard, he met a stripper and decided to turn his life around by moving to another city to get a job. It sucked that dad could not change when he was with us, but I was glad to have no longer him bothering mom and me.

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Moving On

Since my parents never got married, it became easy for mom and her new boyfriend, Bob, to get married. I liked Bob because he did not look down on us even if we came from the ghetto. I liked him more as a father because he did everything for me that my biological dad should have. He took us as far away from the ghetto as possible, toured us worldwide, and sent me to the best schools. Who could fault him for that?

When I became an adult, I chose to become a therapist. The decision primarily stemmed from the fact that I wanted to know what went on in other people’s minds. How did they perceive something? How many emotions could they go through before settling on one? Mom and Bob supported me all the way, so life continued to be a breeze.

After receiving my license, I established my practice at the heart of the city. I was not picky about who I would treat. Whether you were rich or poor, you could knock at my door. I was also getting popular, considering my face and name were on a massive billboard that Bob paid to promote my clinic further.

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In other words, I became successful. Gone was the young girl stuck in the ghetto and did not know how to get out. A confident, well-educated woman replaced her with lovely parents.

But Then, Trouble Went Knocking On My Door – Literally 

Just when I thought my past was behind me, my secretary hurried to my office one afternoon and said that some woman was making a scene at the receiving area. I asked if she got the woman’s name, but the latter merely noted that she was my stepmom and that we had to talk urgently.

My heart sank to the ground. I never saw the stripper that my dad left us for, but for that woman outside to claim to be my stepmom, it had to be her. I asked my secretary to escort her to my office as calmly as possible.

To my surprise, I did not see a woman who was proud of wrecking a home. All I saw was an intimidated woman in shabby clothes. When she sat down, she introduced herself and told me that my father was at the hospital due to renal failure. He did not want to bother me, but his new wife thought I was his last chance at survival.

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I acted without thinking twice and went to the hospital to see my father. He cried when he saw me and apologized, and all my anger melted away. I made sure he got the best healthcare, and we worked on rebuilding our relationship once he got out of the hospital.

Why Did I Do That?

A lot of people could not understand why I took care of my previously abusive father. The simple answer was that I forgave him, and it was my duty as his daughter to look after him. The years lost no longer mattered; it was not cool to dwell on them anyway. All I wanted was to make amends with my biological dad and genuinely move on from the past. Mind you – it all starts with forgiveness.

Why Therapists Encourage People To Forgive Their Parents

With my father being the youngest among 11 siblings, the age gap between him and his oldest sister was quite big (16 years, to be exact). The family used to say that some people were quick to assume that dad was my Aunt Jackie’s son whenever she babysat him because of that. Everyone would laugh whenever that story would come up during social gatherings, especially when my father would joke around and call his big sister momma.

The thing about having a dad who’s the youngest in his family was that most – if not all – of his older siblings got married before he did. The first wedding happened when he was only in elementary school, and his brothers and sisters did not wait too long to start building families of their own. Hence, my father officially became an uncle at the age of nine years old.

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Growing Up With Much Older Relatives

As expected, there was also a massive age difference between my older cousins and me. While they were already living in the real world, I was still in my diapers. When they had boyfriends and girlfriends, I was still shuffling and babbling.

Did I find that as a disadvantage? Not as much as you would think. Having many older relatives meant that there were more people to love me and dote on me. I was the apple of everyone’s eyes; whatever I requested would be granted, even if mom and dad said no.

Only when I became a teenager, I realized that our big family was not as perfect as it initially seemed. All my cousins were always at family gatherings, so I did not know until much later that some were feuding with their mom or dad for a long time. Three out of four of my Aunt Jackie’s kids, to be specific, refused to talk to her or at least recognize her existence during parties.

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I observed the same pattern for many months, so I felt the need to ask mom about it one day. My mother explained that no one could be sure about what happened in their household. But based on stories, my aunt favored one child only, and the others got sick and tired of the unfair treatment. Many relatives tried to make them reconcile, though the children were not amenable to it.

Remembering The Family Drama As A Therapist

When I got older, the feuds and cold shoulders became too normal in my extended family. Sometimes, the people involved would be more cordial than ever; other times, they would refuse to remain at the same table. Everyone learned to gauge their feelings and relationships at least a week before gatherings to plan how to keep them separated and still enjoy the party.

Nevertheless, my perspective changed once I began studying and training to become a licensed therapist. One of the most unforgettable topics was forgiveness. It was said that not wanting to forgive someone who hurt you immediately was all right. However, it would be wrong to claim that you could never forgive a person since it was a sign of lack of growth.

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I remembered my cousins who were no longer on speaking terms with their parents at once. Regularly, therapists encouraged people to forgive their moms and dads for whatever issue they had so that everyone could move on. After all, it was easy to assume that only the parents suffered from the situation, even though the reality was that the kids suffered as well.

Furthermore, my cousins often told everyone that all the problems were due to their parents. “They were too controlling, always saying no, etc.” But if you thought about it objectively, a more logical explanation was that the kids did something wrong, and they hated being reprimanded for it, so the next best solution was to lash out.

Lashing out instead of forgiving mom and dad could bring negative karma to your life, you see. Your dreams might become more challenging to achieve than ever; worse, your future children might treat you the same way you treated your parents. You would not often see its adverse effect, but it would undoubtedly come if your actions stayed the same.

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Final Thoughts

As soon as I got my license to practice therapy, my entire family threw a party for me. There were balloons, rainbows, and booze all around – everything I wanted. When my cousins offered to take me bar-hopping, though, I refused and told them I wanted to do family therapy in that instant.

Did everyone agree immediately? Of course not. Some were adamant as they had no part in the drama; others who had been in the drama for too long argued that their differences were irreconcilable. The thing was, everyone was deeply affected by it because we belonged to the same family. More importantly, the fact that those feuding individuals never ceased to attend family gatherings could mean that they were subconsciously hoping to make peace with their loved ones.

It took months and more concentrated family sessions, but my cousins eventually forgave their parents and vice versa.

Topics To Talk About When Visiting A Senior Parent

Having a senior parent requires you to become more patient and understanding.  “The responsibility of providing care for an aging or ill loved one is a challenge in its own right,” says Carol Bradley Bursack. There are many things that you have to consider when it comes to dealing with an old parent. One of these is his interest in knowing about the latest updates in your life. This is why you have to make it a habit to visit him on a regular basis. Do not let a week pass without coming over to your parent’s house or visiting him in a senior care facility. Below are some of the topics that he would love to discuss and talk about:

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Continue reading “Topics To Talk About When Visiting A Senior Parent”

Live With A Senior Parent: Is This The Right Decision? 

“As your parents age you will feel a wide range of emotions,” says Maud Purcell, LCSW, CEAP. Many questions come to mind when it comes to taking good care of one’s elderly parent, some of which include identifying the proper living arrangements for them as well as looking into their finances. Unfortunately, this becomes challenging especially if you already have a family of your own. In this article, we are going to look into the different tips on how you could handle the necessity of having an elderly parent live with you. Be sure to remember these: 

 

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Continue reading “Live With A Senior Parent: Is This The Right Decision? “

How To Help A Senior Parent Solve Financial Problems

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Many issues will usually surface once your parent starts to grow older. One of the concerns that you need to take into consideration is the existence of financial problems that your elderly parent has. According to Brad Klontz Psy.D., CFP, “Problems with money are incredibly common, and are often responses to stressful life events.” No matter how much you try to ignore this situation, you will always be part of his life. Because of this, it is essential that you exert some effort in helping him deal with financial issues. Below are some of the top things that you could do:

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Never Do These When Visiting An Old Parent

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If there is one thing that you need to know about seniors, it is the fact that most of them are already impatient and grouchy. Just remember that this change in attitude is not all about you. Keep in mind that the way they act or react to anything you say and do is affected by several factors. Because of all these, it is highly recommended that you exert more understanding when it comes to dealing with a senior parent. You need to put up with her new kind of attitude. “Empathize with your parents,” says Christina Steinorth, MFT, a psychotherapist.

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Top 3 Common Things That Kids Forget About Aging Parents

 

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Now that you are already an adult, you probably spend most of your time doing work at the office or running your own business. Sometimes, you will feel that the twenty-four hours you get a day are no longer enough for all the things you want to do. Because of this, there is a high tendency that you will miss spending time with your aging parents. While this is only typical of an adult, it is not an excuse for doing it regularly.

Continue reading “Top 3 Common Things That Kids Forget About Aging Parents”

Why You Shouldn’t Think Of Cost-Cutting When It Comes To Your Beloved Parents

When I am not busy working, you will typically find me volunteering at homeless shelters all over the city. You can say that it is one of the teenage passions that I have carried over to adulthood. I enjoy teaching and cooking for the less fortunate individuals in the community than drinking and partying with friends. Continue reading “Why You Shouldn’t Think Of Cost-Cutting When It Comes To Your Beloved Parents”

What To Tell Elderly Parents About Healthy Eating

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Most elders criticize the members of the younger generations for loving fast foods. They tend to say, “When we were your age, we’re more than happy to eat fruits and vegetables.” Thus, they get to live a long life. “The food you eat can have a direct effect on your energy level, physical health, and mood,” says Carol A. Gooch,M.S., LPC, LCDC, LMFT.

Despite that, it’s no secret that some senior citizens have embraced innovation too much, to the point that they no longer want to eat healthily. In their minds, you can only live once; that’s why you should eat whatever you want while it’s still possible.

In case your elderly parents won’t listen to you about healthy eating, here are some things you can tell them.

  • You will always look and feel fresh. According to psychologists Lawrence Robinson, Jeanne Segal Ph.D., and Robert Segal, M.A., “Eating a healthy diet is not about strict limitations, staying unrealistically thin, or depriving yourself of the foods you love. Rather, it’s about feeling great, having more energy, improving your health, and boosting your mood.” Even after eight hours, you will still have the energy to cook for your family or play with your grandkids. You will also not have to get checked by a doctor often, except for general examinations. You can do any activity you want because you are getting all the nutrients that your body needs to stay fit.
  • Coughs and influenzas will rarely be a problem even if people who are infected by them surround you. After all, your immune system will be strong enough to fight such viruses. If ever you do get affected, your recovery time will be faster.

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  • You will never have to worry again about your weight. Some people panic when they see that they are gaining or losing weight, but if you only stick to healthy meals all day, you will never face that problem.
  • Your brain will function better, so you can also perform better during the day. A study has proven that healthy eating can help you keep your mind and memory sharp even at an old age.
  • You can get all the nutrients and minerals that your body needs.
  • In a way, it will always make you happy because your digestion will be smooth, thanks to the fiber in your food.
  • You will have glowing skin, and you will not have to drink or apply any chemically infused products that may have side effects on you later on.
  • It will make you live longer. Now you know the secret of the oldies who are already in their 80s but still seem stronger than other people younger than them.

Recommendations

If you have aging parents, it is recommended that you begin changing their diet into a healthier one. They are more prone to diseases than ever, so they need to eat real foods that can replenish the nutrients in their bodies. There are many adults right now who have kept on just eating burgers and sweets in their childhood and are now regretting it, so do not let them live that way.

It is great to be on this earth without having to worry about acquiring many illnesses or other health-related problems. Besides, you will feel clean inside and out because you are not eating much crappy food already that does nothing but add empty calories to your body.

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Enforcing a proper diet is not a bad thing. No matter how old you are now, do not think that you are already too old to change your food lifestyle. After all, it is still better late than never. “In reality, having a healthy relationship with food involves indulging along with being flexible and kind to yourself,” stated Rachel Goldman, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist focused on health and wellness.

Why You Should Let Your Elderly Parents Eat Dark Chocolate

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“Is adding dark chocolate on your healthy eating plans a good idea?”

This is the question that a lot of people ask, especially by the chocolate lovers who find it challenging to get rid of this yummy treat completely. Yes, it is hard to let go of this delicate chocolate, so you may be thrilled to know that dark chocolate is an excellent addition to your diet.

There have been whispers before that dark chocolate is great for your health. No, these are not made up by chocolate manufacturers who want to earn more profits. According to some studies, what makes dark chocolate better and healthier than other kinds of chocolate is the substantial amount of cocoa left in the product. White or milk chocolate tastes sweet because there are more sugar, milk solids, and other additives in it than cocoa, you see. And since chocolates go through the heating process, that little content gets even smaller. Dark chocolate, on the other hand, is bittersweet, but the health benefits of cocoa are still intact.

In case you still can’t decide whether you should give dark chocolates to your elderly parents, here are more reasons why you should do it.

Blood Pressure Normalization

Some researches show that dark chocolates have cocoa polyphenols. These are micronutrients that help reduce a person’s blood pressure without affecting their body weight. The change may not happen as soon as you take a bite on your dark chocolate, but you will eventually see it. Not to mention, you must admit that it tastes better than any medicine prescribed by your doctor.

Combats Free Radicals

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The nutrients in dark chocolate improve the movement of your arteries. Aside from that, its antioxidants are great against free radicals that cause heart diseases and even some forms of cancer. This function is especially beneficial for aging individuals who are prone to such illnesses.

Bad Cholesterol Decline

Dark chocolate should be eaten by people who have high levels of bad cholesterol. It is also great for those who want to reduce weight because eating it makes you lose your appetite and get more energy. Furthermore, it has fiber that can aid in your digestion process, as well as magnesium that reduces risks of blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, and osteoporosis.

Mood Enhancer

If you are feeling sad, get a piece of dark chocolate, and you will have a better outlook on life. After all, cocoa can enhance your mood by aggregating the dopamine activity of your brain. Your parents may feel not so lonely when they can eat it.

Final Thoughts

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Getting darker chocolate is better than having dark chocolate, of course. However, you should know that you may still gain extra pounds if this is all you eat every day. If you munch on dark chocolate nonstop, its health benefits will inevitably be overpowered by its high levels of calorie. Moderation is the key to everything.

We hope that the information above will make you feel less guilty of giving chocolates to your elderly parents. Cheers!