Today Yusuf and I had a discussion about when we (my huband and I) will be older. Im not sure how it began but mashaallah it went well. Yusufs friend has a great grandfather who lives with him because he is pretty old. So we talked about him as an example. I explained to him how when people get old, they need more help and kids need to take care of their parents just like parents take care of kids when they're babies. We talked about different ways to take care of your parents when they get old, like: eating with them, checking on them, talking to them, driving them places, and buying things for them.
I would like to teach our kids to live a healthy balance between the eastern and western cultures. I find in Eastern cultures (ie. indo pak) that generally there is the extreme of parents ALWAYS being with their kids. Even if the parents are healthy and independant, its a huge deal to move out of your parents house. On the other hand, generally, in western cultures, people go to the other extent of rarely seeing their parents. 'Old Age Homes' is considered a norm here, where overseas it is a very foreign concept!
I find it incredibly heart breaking when families 'dump' their elder, sick parents in an old age home so others can take care of them. I understand it is not easy when a parent reaches the age where they need to be taken care of, fed, bathed, reminded to take their medicine, taken for walks, checked up on, and even diapers changed.... but was it easy for our parents when they were raising us? Did they not put their all into their careers to create a stable income to pay for your soccer leagues / summer camps / new clothes / food in your stomach? Did they not stay awake all night taking care of you when you were sick / teething/ having nightmares? Did they not put their all in raising you? Is it too much to ask to take care of them for a few years as their lives reach an end?
Yes, I understand that in some cases it is very difficult to take a parent into your home so they can be taken care of... and at times, it is more practical for everyone if that person goes into an old age home because of family situations / extreme sickness etc. But I think its just been made too easy and convenient that each city/town has multiple homes.
Jannah doesn't come easy. Taking care of elder parents is not easy. Its all about what youre wiling to sacrifice.
InshaAllah when my kids get married and have their own families, I want them to be happy and chose where they would like to live (Id actually prefer they not live with us when they first get married, unless there is a need on their part). However, if it happens that my husband or I pass away leaving the other one alone, or if one or both of us are sick, I expect my children to be the ones taking care of me, just like were taking care of them now!
For me, this is a huge thing. Not only is it an Islamic concept, but out of basic human compassion, it only makes sense you take care of your parents as they once took care of you when you were helpless and fully dependent on them.
I know Yusuf is only four, and to some its too early to talk about this, but for me, its very important... so Im laying the foundation now.
May Allah swt help us to take care of our parents.. for taking care of them is a means of Jannah for us. And may He put compassion and mercy in our children's hearts for us when we become old... just as we have so much mercy and compassion towards them now. Ameen.