“It gets really blurry. Who’s going to do what?” Grown children [of parents who remarry late in life] don’t have much history with these new spouses; they often feel less responsibility to intervene or help out, and stepparents may be unwilling to ask. Perhaps it’s unclear whether children or new spouses have decision-making authority.
Let’s face it – the modern family structure can get complicated. While “family” can make good material for divorce courts and sitcoms alike, it’s also becoming clear that there is a new family crisis brewing in elder care within blended families. This topic was taken up in a recent article in the New Old Age Blog titled “In Blended Families, Responsibility Blurs.”
When it’s just parents and just the kids born from those parents, caring for elderly parents can be difficult enough. Generally, most families assume that the adult children can work things out to take care of their elderly parents. In a blended family, however, and especially in one where the parents of those adult children have remarried late in life, the boundaries can get blurry. Moral decisions once clear become blurry.
With elderly parents in such situations, there oftentimes are changes in relationships for the worse that can lead to petty angers which further add to complications. Remember, every family requires ongoing communication and shared understandings to make a family run smoothly. Easier said than done. Nevertheless, you owe it to yourself and to your loved ones to come to that point.
The original article has so much more to say on this topic, with a first-hand account that is all too familiar to many. Here is an important takeaway: the coming generations of elderly persons are more likely to be in a blended family, so be prepared now for the challenges that may affect you and those you love.
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Reference: The New York Times – The New Old Age Blog (February 5, 2013) “In Blended Families, Responsibility Blurs”