Reversal Of Roles.

This post has been inspired by my sister Padmini sending me this image with the peremptory comment – “For your blog”. Yes Madam, anything to oblige! ┬áPlease click on the image for a larger resolution.

One of life’s inevitabilities is the fact that once one grows old, his identity takes the back seat to his offspring. For instance, I now have to be introuduced as either my son’s father or my daughter in love’s father in law. I have also had the odd experience of being introduced as Chutki’s grand parent! Chutki incidentally, is our dog. I rarely drive any more and depend on my son or daughter in love to drive me around. It seems not so long ago that I drove them around! There was also the time that I used to say that my son lived with me whereas now, I unashamedly say that I live with my son and daughter in love.

That preamble may sound a bit odd for my Western readers but, for Indians, the change over from joint families to unitary families is still a work in progress and apart from the sheer logistics aspect of inability to stay in the same place where the parents live, for career reasons, there is also a great shift in values where young people want to live their own lives without the elders constantly poking their noses into the affairs of the youngsters.

There is however a caveat. Many of the senior citizens that I know here with children in the West, are still in great demand as post natal nurses, housekeepers and baby sitters. They keep going up and down till the grand children grow up and after that the goings more or less stop. While there, there is nothing but total boredom for them but, they do their duty as parents and grand parents and return usually to big sighs of relief.

Recently, I had been discussing with some fellow seniors as to how roles have reversed vis a vis with our children and younger siblings. From our looking after them during their childhood, it is time for us to be looked after by them and, hold your breath, ordered around too! Two things firmed up my views on this recently. The first incident was the very first paragraph of this post and the next follows.

I had to attend a reunion with some ex colleagues by driving over 130 Kms up and down and though I was looking forward to the meeting itself, I was down with a viral infection and felt that I will be incapable of a comfortable journey to and fro. My daughter in law hearing me think aloud about not going simply said, “Nothing doing. You will get up, have breakfast and go. No cancelling the long awaited meeting.” And that is what I did. What motivation! I enjoyed the meeting though the drive back was quite tiring and longer than the way up due to traffic snarls.

I actually enjoy the reversal of roles. What do you think?

12 thoughts on “Reversal Of Roles.”

  1. One of my daughters sometimes will act as though she is my carer and she does help with a lot of things but I don’t like being regarded as the “cared for”!

    All in all, I’m nowhere near ready for a role reversal but I think I’ll be ok with it when it happens.

  2. Reversal of roles? Yes, sure, recently the Angel told me (one particular incident) that he was acting the parent (putting things into perspective) to my default five year old self temporarily disappointed with the world as only five years olds can be.

    My parents are now in their early to mid eighties. No role reversal there any time soon. And I wouldn’t want it. As far as I am concerned my parents are still the youngsters I remember when in their thirties – younger than I am now. Talk about being stuck in some weird time warp.

    However, whilst my mother won’t take any advice from me (not even when I DO know better), I will concede that there is “role reversal” in as much as I am not demanding of her any longer. She has reached a point of calcification where the only way to keep her happy is to indulge her, not challenge her. Come to think of it, and it sounds brutal, I am really disappointed at what old, really old age, does to people. Best course of action: Pack them in cotton wool, walk on egg shells, don’t hurt feelings. Because it’s all too late, too late. Not worth their anguish.

    To be fair, my father hasn’t reached that stage yet. It’s still all systems go with him. And, with a tear in both my eyes, I dread the day I’ll have to put the breaks on with him too. What a loss it’ll be (to me).

    In the meantime, my dear Ramana, enjoy being coaxed by your lovely daughter-in-love, into what’s good for you. Too easy to let the old bones dictate to take a back seat. Having said that: I don’t expect anything from anyone’s old bones – it’s their brains, their wisdom (or not), the distilled essence of a life long lived they can impart on the still thirsty like me. Long may your faculties last, Ramana.


    1. There is a wide age gap which is obvious because you still have your parents to reckon with whereas I do not. I did go through a period like you currently are going through and came out quite intact thanks primarily to the presence of my late wife in my life. Much later, I had a difficult time as you know, when my late father came to give me the opportunity for role reversal and I would not like to repeat that with my son.

  3. I’m fiercely independent, as I’m sure many in this community are, so I’m not ready to even THINK about the prospect of having someone take care of me. I looked after my mother for a few years when she was approaching ninety, just before she entered a care facility, and I admit I was a bit bossy from time to time! So I’m not looking forward to role reversal, since I’m sure there’ll be some chickens coming home to roost!
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  4. I don’t have that on my radar at all… I have no children, some close by relatives, certainly no parent. I do have friends to call upon, but a couple of them have got a bit over the top on what constitutes “help and helpful” … I attempt to be as independent as possible, trying hard to not too allow those “over the top” comments.
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  5. I’m not a grandparent so thankfully I’ve escaped any requests to look after my grandchildren! I did look after my elderly mum – as much as I could from 350 miles away. Some grandparents find looking after the grandchildren tiresome but I think others love every minute of it.

    1. It depends a lot on how healthy the grandparents are and how active the grandchildren are. I had some hard times with my two hyper active grand nephews a couple of years ago when I had to baby sit.

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