In the nearly normal aging family when the parent figure in family ages and begins to suffer the losses of getting old. Then the filial crisis occurs. What’s that-? The midlife adult children need to learn to learn to balance love and duty to their aging parents with independence. These midlife children must create a two-way relationship instead of the parent sending, love, money and be nurturing only one way. This throws adult children in a nearly normal family into a tailspin. It has always been a one-way street – ending with them. Were they selfish – no? That’s what good parents do- nurture their children through all the stages of life. However, this new stage takes a two-way streetaby
Baby boomer children, are shocked and baffled when their now aging parents are no longer that John Wayne father figure who can root out every bad guy depending only on his gun and horse. When their Dad or Mom need to ask for support following to loss of health in old age, their adult children are thrown into crisis. This crisis has been labeled a filial crisis by pioneering social worker Margaret Blenkner. Blenkner, a breaker of new ground in the social sciences was the first director of the Benjamin Rose Institute in Cleveland and introduced the concept of the filial crisis. This crisis, she theorized, happened when the adult child realized that their parents were not invulnerable. Like the Twin towers crumbling after America ‘s 911, these adult children saw their impregnable parents start to disintegrate and with it the supportive bulwarks f After a life time of seeing their parents as the indomitable during their often indulged, financial, economic and emotional support, even in their children mid-life.
This filial crisis is, in essence, a new developmental phase in life, the loss of your parent’s independence and their dependence on you.
The healthy family is also thrown off balance by this shock to the system. The person who took the lead role on the family stage has not shown up or forgets their lines.At this giant pause in family play, the family system, even in the normal family must face the loss of control in the system because the parents or parent figures usually have that control. When they can no longer manage on their own, or function as the main gear or guide that moves the family system forward even the normal family is thrown off balance.
Professionals Check out my book Care Managers Working With the Aging Family , with its chapter Loss Dependence, “Filial Maturity and Homeostasis in the Aging Family“, Leonie Nowitz and Cathy Cress, Jones and Bartlett, to learn more about a Filial Crisis in the Nearly Normal Aging Family