Old age is an inevitable phase of life, bringing with it various challenges like health issues, mood swings, insomnia, etc. This is the time when elderly parents look for support, care, love, and in some cases, financial support from their grown-up children. It is a fair expectation from children because parents have spent a significant portion of their life looking after their children, and now, in their desperate times, they look for help. Yes, desperate times because parents don’t like burdening children till they have no other way. A parent asks for help only when they tried everything and could not find a way. They ask for help from children only when they are in a really bad state. Such is their unconditional love.
All parents take care of their children, but not all children take care of their parents. A single parent can raise two children, but two children cannot look after one parent. There could be many reasons why children abandon aging parents. Below are some reasons.
1. Financial expenses
2. Conflicts between spouse and parents
3. Lack of time
4. Lack of concern
It is a sad state, but we see it commonly happening around us where children abandon their parents. Parents are left to look after themselves in ripe old age when they are not in a position to earn money or stand on their feet. Looking after parents is the foremost responsibility of children. One may ask why children should look after parents in their old age. Below are some reasons.
10 important reasons for taking care of elderly parents:
1. Parents spend a minimum of 20 years in raising a child, looking after his or her educational needs, getting him or her married and taking care of whims and fancies of the child. They are with the child in every major step that shapes the adult life of a child.
2. Parents give up their wishes, money savings, time, sleep for the well-being of a child. They would have spent many sleepless nights worrying about the future of a child or would have cut down their own wishes to fulfill the wishes and demands of a child. They give everything to raise a child.
3. The scriptures say that it is the dharma of a child to look after parents and to take care of their needs in old age. We have many examples in scriptures that teach us this important teaching.
4. The Law of Karma says that we receive what we give. Today, when we start ignoring our elderly parents, the same fate awaits us once we enter old age because that’s what we have given to our parents. Old age is inevitable, and every one of us needs to face it. If we want our old age to go smoothly, it is important to take care of our elderly parents now. We create our future through the actions we do today.
5. Our children learn by seeing our behavior. When we mistreat our parents, they understand that they need can do the same once they grow up. They emulate us in their actions. And when they mistreat us in our old age, we cannot really question them because that’s the example we have set for them.
6. Some people may complain that their parents did nothing for them and ask why they should take care of them. The dharma says that whether parents did anything or not, they gave the greatest blessing of life – it is the physical body. Without a physical body, there is no life on this planet. We get to experience life through our physical body. We earn money, enjoy life, go through various experiences of life only because we have a physical body. Our physical body is loaned to us by our parents. So, this one reason is enough to take care of parents.
7. Parents looked after us when we were incapable of doing anything as a toddler. We could not walk. We did not know how to eat. We did not have toilet sense. Yet, they patiently looked after us when we were in our most incapable state as a toddler.
8. They are the reason behind our success in life. A parent could be educated or uneducated, wealthy or poor, efficient or inefficient. But one thing common in all parents is their burning desire to do their best to see their child become successful in life. Their unconditional love, constant support, blessings are invisible factors behind every person’s success in life.
9. A mother goes through severe pain while giving delivery to a baby. A delivery is almost like a new birth to the mother. Such is the pain experienced while delivering. Not only delivery, but it takes a lot of pain and effort to go through 9 months of pregnancy. Issues like sleeplessness, breathlessness, body pains, digestion problems are common during pregnancy. A mother goes through all these issues and gives birth to a child.
10. As per dharma, avoiding one’s duty is a sin. So, ignoring elderly parents amounts to committing sin, and every sin comes with a price that needs to be paid in life through suffering.
These are some reasons why children should take care of their parents. Yes, clashes will come between spouse and parents. When clashes can come between parents and children, what wonder is in clashes between spouse and in-laws? In relationships, friction is common, but this should not be the factor or a cause to abandon parents. One truth everyone should understand is as per dharma, parents and in-laws hold the same status. Just like our parents gave us this precious body, our in-laws have given precious body to our spouse. Without the physical body, there is no spouse. In fact, it is said that in-laws of this lifetime are parents of a previous lifetime. So, don’t differentiate between parents and in-laws. Take good care of both sets of parents and set the right example for children at home.
Coming to financial expenses, yes, it takes money for the medical bills of parents. But remember that their tireless efforts are behind our today’s job, which pays us money and paying for medical bills of our parents is the minimum thing we can do. And coming to time, yes, we all have busy schedules, but it cannot become a factor to abandon our parents. When we have time for entertainment, vacations, functions, events, can’t we afford some amount of time for our parents? We can afford it. It just needs proper planning and will to give the time.
So, don’t let any reason stop you from taking good care of your parents and in-laws. It’s our minimum dharma to take care of our parents. Scriptures placed parents on a pedestal higher than teachers by saying – Mathru devo bhava, Pitru devo bhava, Acharya devo bhava. Scriptures said mother and father are Gods. They did not say only the best mother and father are Gods. They just said, mother and father.
So, let’s all take good care of our parents and make this world a better place.
Wish you and your family love and peace!