Mums and Dads play many an important role in their children’s life, but will being a burden eventually be one of them?
Entering the elderly age group comes with its own set of growing pains. The elderly have many common worries such as their declining health, loss of mobility and independence, financial concerns, and commonly overlooked, loneliness and abandonment.
It’s not unusual for these worries to go on without being vocalised, either.
A short film released recently highlights the plight of ageing parents and how many of them go out of their way to prove themselves useful and avoid feeling like a burden to their children. Sometimes, this comes at the cost of their personal health.
Being a filial child
Ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius, who’s preaches revolved around the veneration of elders once wrote, “There are three degrees of filial piety. The highest is being a credit to our parents, the second is not disgracing them; the lowest is being able simply to support them.”
While young Malaysians have been thoroughly schooled on this longstanding value of filial piety in their respective institutions, it is not till later in adulthood (or perhaps upon reaching parenthood) does one truly understand and appreciate the actual message.
Suresh Rajenthiran, a marketing and communications manager (F&B industry) who feels strongly about the issue, shares his personal view: “At some point in our lives we may feel that our aging parents are a burden, especially as we are trying to achieve our own career, relationships, and personal goals.
“But if you know what sacrifices your parents have made for you, you will not see it as a burden but as your mission to take care of them in their golden years,” adds the 30-year-old.
Actor and performer Jonathan Lee, featured in the abovementioned film, shares a little about his experiences with his family:
“My grandma really feels she is a burden to the family. But being the more outspoken one, what I will do is talk to her – I will tell her that it is normal, because everyone will grow old eventually and needs to be taken care of. My day will come, when my children will have to take care of me.”
“I also sometimes say to her, ‘To be honest you’re old, and you won’t know how many years you can still live. So for these few years, let us take good care of you.’ We also encourage her to talk and express herself more with us.”
It’s in the little things
Supporting our parents in their golden years means different things to different people.
To some, it may mean pitching in financially to provide a comfortable quality of life, while to others it may mean taking care of personal health matters, especially if their parents are incapacitated in any way.
However, support is not only valued in concrete and visible gestures such as these. The little things – the things that aren’t’ necessarily befitting of a to-do list – can sometimes be a lot more touching.
“Taking care of them doesn't always mean in terms of money and physical belongings but sometimes as simple as spending time and the show of love,” says Suresh.
“Greet them first before they greet you, even when you’ve just come back from work. During arguments, try not to answer back when things are heated, but discuss it later when things are calm,” are some of the things that 28-year-old Chow Wei Kheng, who works in sales and marketing in a property industry, does to show respect.
“If they think they are a burden, I feel we should reassure them that everyone will go thru this stage. It’s just a phase at a point in our lives. Being patient and explaining this to them will help them feel loved, as we took time to make them understand,” adds Chow.
Says Lee: “Among Chinese, there is a proverb that translates to “if everything goes smoothly with your family, it will go smoothly with you.” So, make your parents happy, no matter the request, let them do what they want.
“At this point in life, you can play the “supporting role” so to speak. They are the main lead. Most importantly cherish each moment that life gives you with love and gratitude.”
> Watch Chapter 4, a four-part miniseries of a family’s legacy of love, selflessness, courage and gratitude at youtube.com/GreatEasternMysia and share your stories.
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This article was brought to you by Great Eastern Malaysia.