Question 11: Are children obligated to care for their parents when they are unable to take care of themselves?

Answer:  Children do have an obligation to take care of their parents when they become too infirm, either physically or mentally, to take care of themselves.

I have to emphasize the phrase “too infirm” because I have seen many cases where elderly parents had the ability to take care of themselves just fine, but took advantage of their children and demanded that they take care of many matters they could have handled themselves. Hence, it must be clearly established that the need is real.

If a need for care has indeed been determined, there is more than one option on how to deal with this. One option is to have the parent come live with the children. Sometimes that works just fine, but sometimes it does not and causes tension in the home and in the marriage. Because a mate’s primary responsibility is to the spouse and not to the parent, other options have to be looked at. One such option would be to provide care for the ailing parent by either hiring a visiting nurse or by finding a nursing home.

Yes, the children have a responsibility to their parents, but there is more than one option as to how that responsibility should be fulfilled.

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Arnold Answers is a bi-weekly Q & A with founder and director of Ariel Ministries, Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum.