Research shows that the ties which lead adult children to become caregivers — depending on how much contact they have with parents, how nearby they live, how obligated they feel — are weaker in stepchildren, Dr. Silverstein said. Money sometimes enters the equation too, Ms. Keller added, if biological children resent a parent’s spending their presumed inheritance on care for an ailing stepparent.
Today’s “modern family” can make good material for divorce courts and sitcoms alike, but it’s also becoming clear that there is a new family crisis brewing in elder care within these blended families. A New Old Age Blog article titled “In Blended Families, Responsibility Blurs” addresses this blended family challenge.
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.
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”