Are Adult Children Obligated To Look Out For Their Parents?

saturn oranmentI know a man who has really bound their life up, in consideration of his father.

“What am I going to do?” he said. “It’s my dad.”

I understand this, completely. I don’t think I’d be talking to the man if he was a different kind of person. But then I look around and see so many adults who feel no obligation to their parents whatsoever. It’s more as if the parents, sixty and seventy years old, are expected to take care of their children into infinity.

Where do you stand on this? If your dad or mom was in trouble…real trouble, would you feel an obligation to help them?

Where is your Saturn?

41 thoughts on “Are Adult Children Obligated To Look Out For Their Parents?”

  1. Since my parents were fairly young (56/mom & 68/dad) when I lost them… to have them back, I would definitely do whatever possible to help them. I would not feel obligated but just thankful to still have them in my life. As it is, I fall into the category of supporting my adult children (2 of them)…. it’s keeping me from retirement…ugh!

  2. I just think it’s interesting. This man just simply would not consider himself free to move on as his sunk down. It’s cost him mightily, but if spiritual peace is what you value, he’s simply doing what needs to be done.

    I would love to see the chart. He’s clearly bound, but I could not guess the design of it.

    I took care of my mother for years and years and years. From the time I was a child. I also saw no possible way to not do this. Until my Saturn return, that is. I guess I decided I’d paid my dues at that point.

    It was super thankless. She had no appreciation for me at all. Still, I would do everything the same if I had it to do over again. I truly see no choice…not for me and not for this man, either.

    I wonder why some of us are stuck like this, but I also wonder if we’re not ultimately better off.

    1. It was never an option to not take care of my mother. From early childhood until I was in my forties I tried to keep her alive and still have a life of my own. Then her anxiety disorder took over and there was only yelling and crying and me holding her hand when she took her last breath. Saturn in Pisces.

  3. I would take care of my parents without even a second thought. I don’t know if it’s a cultural thing or something just within me but I would definitely take care of them and not out of obligation but because I’d want to. They took care of me and it’s only right I do the same for them. I have Saturn in Virgo.

  4. I wouldn’t feel obligated, I would just do it. Its the way I was raised. The whole family took care of our elderly. I don’t know if this is normal, or how the rest of the world works but it is what I was taught to do. My family is from the South. They took care of their senior members. They took them in until they died. More than one family member died in my childhood home.

    My mother is not easy. Not even a little. She causes trouble, lies, and is just a hot mess. But I am not going to let her die alone with nothing. She is even welcome to come live with us should she need to. She isn’t quite in that position yet. She wants to be on her own. When she cant anymore she is welcome here even though I know it will be a nightmare.

    I also help my children. All the time. And I will continue to do so. I do think I would hold back more though if they didn’t have children. I do most of what I do because of their daughters and I often think if they didn’t have kids I would definitely pull back. My husband thinks I would help them the same either way.

    My mother is thankful for help, many times my children forget the last thing you did for them. I don’t help them for anything in return but it would be nice if they could remember that I am on the same team when they are aggravated and want to lash out at someone.

    I agree it is mostly thankless. Even so, I probably would be miserable if I thought any of them were without what they need. More miserable than I am sometimes while I am trying to help.

    I am locked in. I am sure I will never be free of it. And I am not sure I will receive the same support when I am in need. I seriously doubt I will.

  5. I took care of my Mom, I would gladly take care of my Dad if he needed it, he does not but I would not think twice about doing whatever needed to be done for any of my family or loved ones. I have a stellium in Virgo including both Moon and Venus.

  6. “Doing what needs to be done” this is how I respond to people when they ask what I do for a living.. it really has taken over my life. I knew I was going to be the caretaker before I was even asked to do so. It was inevitable in my mind. No one else is capable of doing it. And I’m not even his son, I’m his grandson- but my mother and her brothers are still embroiled in contesting that one of them stole from their father, leaving without the funds to pay for the care he needs. If I weren’t there, they would have left his care up to the evil and despised succubus who let my grandmother suffer by denying hospice care. I promised my grandmother I wouldn’t let that happen to my grandfather. People keep telling me how wonderful it is, what I’m doing – how much love I must have for him. Not really. I don’t even particularly like my grandfather, and I don’t think I ever really have. But I loved my grandmother with everything I am, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let their idiot and asshole children destroy everything she left behind.

    Saturn in the 10th, Libra, conjunct Venus and Jupiter.. sometimes what comes across as compassion is really just the steadfast need to hold up the bullshit until the legal precedings bring justice.

    1. Hi, Rant. I’ve thought of you, knowing you’d gone quiet here when you moved in with your grandfather. It’s nice to read your words again.

  7. I grew up with my grandmother living with us (also in the south) until she died at age 83. She was in a wheelchair my entire childhood but when I, the youngest child, was in the 2nd grade my mother went to work and my grandmother ruled in the hour she was away. My old sister and brothers and I cleaned the house, prepared a hot meal for my parents when they came home from work all from the instructions my grandmother gave from her bed and wheelchair. She also taught me Chinese checkers, how to sew on buttons, make bubbles from a spool and a bar of soap and a zillion other things. I lost my father when I was only 30 and my mother when I was 48…my children would have learned so much from them.

    So yes I do think you are obligated but much more you may be privileged.

  8. I feel very strongly that it is my responsibility to look after my parents and help with anything they may need, until they are no longer here. My Saturn is in Capricorn in the 8th, and I have benefitted greatly from their financial support over the years (Sagittarius on the 8th cusp, Jupiter in the 2nd). It doesn’t matter if they haven’t been perfect in other ways, I know I certainly haven’t. If there is any sacrifice involved on my part, it will be a sacrifice that I’m proud to make.

  9. I have Saturn conjunct my Sun and Moon in the 8th so I wouldn’t be surprised if this ends up being a big part of my life.

    I would definitely take care of my parents. I have two brothers, one a cancer, and they would take care of my parents too. The big question is who would do what? I have always felt that I would be in charge when my parents die, maybe I will be when they’re dying too? I’m the oldest, and I’m not a dum dum boy 😉 My mom had already named me executor of the will because my brothers aren’t fiery enough to take care of it. Also as a Sag, when the time comes I will probably be the only one not tied down, who can move home. I’m just going to have to wait and see.

    I don’t think children of abusive (physically or emotionally) parents have any obligation to them at all. But if you have good parents you absolutely do.

  10. I have Saturn(Cap at the end of the 1st) conjunct Jupiter, and moon (taurus 5th house) trine Saturn.
    Yes, of course I will take care of my parents and it has never occurred to me that I wouldn’t and, in fact, it’s never occurred to me that I wouldn’t be the one to do so.

    I have a one sibling, a younger brother, who I will probably be taking care of also when my Mom and Dad pass away. I’ve known and accepted that for a long time. I’ve even reassured my Mom that I would look after him. He does not have special needs, he just had such an enmeshed relationship with my mother (and still does at the age of almost 50—he’s never married and has no children) that he will require looking after. He has followed his heart, and I admire that, but it has meant that he never moved up from working as a clerk at a store and does not have any savings or a retirement fund. He just is who he is and I love him.

    Like Nymzie, I am executor of my parent’s wills.

    I got over feeling mild irritation at always having to be the one that “took care of things”, or having to always take the lead on getting things done, a long time ago. It has been the story of my life. My mother had me at 16 and was not emotionally prepared to raise me (she had a lot of challenges in her life that I came to know about later. Some teenagers do well in motherhood, unfortunately my mom still needed to be mothered because of her history. That mothering fell on me as a child. It just is what it is and was what it was. I harbor no hard feelings or regret.

    So yes, I will be taking care of my parents and I don’t consider it an obligation, or burden, and I also am not sure it’s an opportunity. It’s just something that will need to be done and I will do it to the best of my ability and with love in my heart.

  11. I have Saturn square moon so I definitely feel bound up to my mother. But it’s a impossible situation.(Moon also conjunct Mars) Without getting into too much detail, I’ve tried to take care of her on a few occasions as an adult but she threw too much of it back in my face and made life hell for my immediate family. Worse still –she expected me to choose her over my family. So I finally had to release that obligation over to God and she and I haven’t seen each other in at least 4 years. She misses me and I miss her and she’s promised that she has changed but I have to, for my own sanity, keep her at distance. Even talking on the phone has to be kept short. Like 5-10 min max. I don’t know how my moon isn’t connected to Pluto with her ability to siphon my energy by the gallon.

    Still, I worry for her. Everyday with knots in my tummy. ?

  12. I’m definitely struggling with this. My mother was abusive so I’d really not wanting to have anything to do with her, and yet I feel guilty. but it’s not like I have th emoney to take care of her anyway, and right now I’m half looking after my husband who’s health is getting gradually worse , and my son who won’t fucking grow up. 😛

  13. I think thats tricky. I don’t think there’s an “obligation” per-se, but I do think its “the right thing to do” if it makes sense for both parties. But, I think theres an upper limit to what you can do, if the person you’re helping isn’t doing their part. And if they just expect to be taken care of, that pisses me off. For example, if a parent was thinking “Oh, I can spend my retirement money because my kid is going to take care of me no matter what” then I think thats a terrible mindset to have. There are young adults who think this way too, and its just as bad. I also know some adults with parents who, in my opinion, are completely undeserving of being cared for in their old age by their children. These are parents who brutally abused their children and took no part in helping their development at all. Some of these parents have attitudes along the lines of “I brought you into this world so you should be grateful to me no matter what”. I think thats ridiculous. I plan to help care for my parents, if they need it. I think I feel a much stronger “obligation” towards my siblings though. My Saturn is in my 3rd, so this shouldn’t be surprising.

  14. Oh man! I have been going through this lately with my mother. I was practically planning her funeral around 3 weeks ago and then she started coming around and eating. I was panicking about her, even though there is nothing that I can really do. So far, things are okay.
    I have Saturn in Taurus in the placidus chart it is in my 3rd house, in others it is in my 4th.

  15. My husband feels obligated to take care of his moon. He has the moon in Cap square Saturn in the 11th. It *is* a thankless job and definitely hinders his ability to live spontaneously…hinders his ability to manifest many of his goals (11th). The sad thing is she does not need the help from him. She acts more needy than she actually is, and their relationship is quite co dependant and unhealthy for everyone-our entire household. But he feels obligated and they have their what can you do? I can understand wanting to help a parent, but sometimes certain boundaries need to be set. I would not hesitate to help my own parents, yet, my parents aren’t like his mom. Nothing like her…so whole different thing.

  16. My family has taken care of our elders. One aunt moved in with her mother, my grandmother after my grandfather’s death. My other grandparents moved in with my great-grandfather when he was widowed. In both cases the ones moving had school aged children they moved, too. Yes, I’m talking 1950s and 1960s.
    In the 70s, my mother and her siblings cared for their parents. Mother has a Libra Saturn, Cancer rising, Libra sun, Gemini moon.
    When my mother needed physical assistance during her last year, she was moved in and out of hospital care and nursing homes until she finally landed in my sister’s care. (Sister is Virgo with Cancer moon, Moon opposition to Saturn in Capricorn.) Mother spent her last month or so in hospice care nursing home. Prior to that our brother checked on her daily while she lived alone for almost 30 years after she became widowed. I checked on her weekly, did her errands, shopping, and appointment transportation.
    I had my mother’s power of attorney for 10 years. Now I am the executrix of her estate. I’ve a Cancer moon square Libra Saturn, Capricorn Sun. My mother, sister, and I have a tight T square synastry at 11 degrees Capricorn, Libra, and Cancer.

  17. My parents passed when I was still in my 30’s, both from cancer and I took care of them from beginning to end. Afterward, I took my grandparents in and took care of them until they passed. It never occurred to me that it should or would be any different than what I was doing. I adored my parents and my grandparents and miss them so much still. I was raised in a culturally Latin home and attribute it to this. My children were raised with grandparents and great grandparents in our home. I have thought about this and how my life played out whereby, now that I am without them, it has given me opportunities for developing my own business and I am in my 50’s.

  18. I would feel obligated but, luckily, I have a big family so I think we would spread the burden among us so it didn’t weigh any of us down too heavily.

    1. That’s another factor. This man is an only child. It’s sort of cost him since the day he was born. There was just one kid, rather than a brood. The downside of that – it’s easy for the parents to say no to the one kid, rather than a team of them.

      “I want too play soccer / football / go to dance…”

      “No, we don’t have time / interest in that…”

      So the life in this case turned out to be largely about the needs of the parents. And I wonder about drawing a card like this.

      1. I’m an only child too. The way I see it is that even in the case of siblings, the responsibility tends to not be equally distributed and may end up falling totally on one person anyway.

      2. Wow, yeah that’s definitely a specialized hand he drew. I’d love to see that chart. I won’t speculate about any karma for fear of my own.

  19. Yes, I would, but NOT out of obligation, but out of love. My Dad sets an example too. He has lived in an attached house with my Grandparents, who “took” us in when my Mother died, for more than 30 years. My Granddad had a series of strokes which incapacitated him when my Dad was my age. He helped my Grandmother – who was legally blind at the time – take care of him. Now, my Grandmother is 94. She is bright, mentally, but obviously, starts to be frail. My three aunts took leaves of absence from work to be with her until my Dad retired, a couple of months ago.

    It’s family karma, really. There are generations of loving and respect, even in very hard times, in this side of my family. Obviously, it has not always been easy – for instance, my Granddad had a temper and clashed with my Aunt. But there’s a lot of respect, really good Saturn aspects, in general.

  20. I have very little Saturn. I have a stellium in cancer and Pluto is transiting it. Showing the damage I’ve made constantly unloading on my mother. Questioning whether I love them or anyone at all. This has been the nightmare question of my life and caused me so much worry and obsession. Will I love them? Will I take care of them? Am I even attached to anyone or do I just need them and hold on in fear that I am actually just walking a road dropping people as I go? As a child I was the ego monster, the spoiled little center of their universe. Now they were full of my crap, and I had to use music to learn to soothe myself.

    Philosophically, our american culture has been all about the children since Pluto in Leo. The separation of the nuclear family, the isolationism and lack of emphasis on community of Pluto in cancer, the freedom from filial piety. The byproduct has been a lack of reciprocity between parent and child. A lack of meaningful roles. We are looking back to an old, depression era model of parenting now. Teaching kids to cope with failure. Not treating them as shining stars for no reason. I hope we make a compromise between the liberating lack of filial piety and hierarchical roles in our western culture and the lack of meaningful cultural traditions to clarify the role of parent and child. I am 29 now and only showed up for my parents once. I hope I feel and do the right thing. Because I am philosophically opposed to my lack of feeling and duty.

  21. Greetings to all and sundry:
    Ma Mere has always been there for me no questions asked not strings attached. I’ve been blessed to have such a constant in my life. I have been living and taking care of her for the last 5 years, exhausted my savings and had to delay my own desires and walked away from opportunity in order to be here for her. My Lil Bro’s life is dominated by obligations to his in-laws and tries to help as he can but at this time is not a reliable source of support.

    It’s hard to explain the situation to others as the 24/7 need for care and diligence sounds “awful” and why wouldn’t I just had that responsibility over to others. Well, Ma Mere is determined to remain at home and I will do everything I can (within my own limited health issues) to see that desire fulfilled. I don’t do this from any sense of obligation or responsibility but from Love. A direct reflection of the Love she has always given me.

  22. My mother was not a good mother. However, I always felt like it was my job, as an only child, to be responsible for her. She is gone now but I took my responsibility seriously until the very end. It was my job. I could not sleep at night if I hadn’t.

  23. Yes. It was important to me to honor that contract, that bond. It didn’t happen till my dad’s last year that I cashed it all in to be there to handle the day to day stuff so he could relax into his death. And then the real challenge was the last 3+ years with my mom. I just wanted to give them the space to prepare for their death. It was both the hardest work I ever did and the most rewarding. It wasn’t that I felt obligated. I just felt like I was the right person for the job.

  24. My child owes me nothing. My child didn’t ask to be born, it was my choice to have a child and thus I owe my child the basic comforts to grow up well fed, with a home, and clothes, and books, and toys. I don’t owe anyone luxury but I have obligations as a parent and as an adult because we bring our children into an adult world made for adults. I am very wary of the narrative “you owe me because I gave you life”, I’ve heard it often enough.

  25. I have a ten years older sister that has completely washed her hands of both parents. After dad died she left completely. She is a Gemini with a lot of Leo.
    I have no family of my own and I don’t think I ever will, my constant feeling is that I was born to just serve and have nothing of my own. My relationship with mom was always very good and right now she is in good health but I dread the future.

  26. Saturn in Libra, super Aries parents. They are alcoholics, and I would dare say selfish and not always in touch w reality. Of course I would help them if they were in trouble, though they have had a lot of help, luck and opportunity in their lives that they have squandered. What I won’t do, however, is throw good energy after bad. They are not the sorts of people who are satisfied w what they have, never lived w a budget, never thought the laws applied to them. I will not enable their bad behavior, and will not cover up for their wrong doing. (Libra much?) I know I can’t depend on them, I learned that early on as a kid. But if something bad were to happen to them, I would be sure to get them the help that they need. The help they really need, however, has been continually refused. In such a case, what can you do? I do what I can. The relationship is definitely at arms length and cordial, but I’ve always told them I will make sure they are cared for. But there’s no way in hell they’re going to be invited to live with me.

  27. However, to answer your question directly, no I do not believe adult children are obligated to look out for their aging parents. It’s sad when this doesn’t happen, just as it is sad when parents don’t look out for their children-children. But it’s hard to extend the reciprocity of caring for an aging parent when you weren’t provided w what you needed as a child. Most of those people don’t transition into adulthood easily. Those w survivor mentality that do are also under no obligation, but a lot of them do, due to the strength of their character, which is usually what got them through life in the first place (and not their parents).

  28. The idea that someone is obligated ‘should’ or that is the ‘right thing to do’ absolutely does not apply to every instance. It may be an honorable thing to do for some if they so judge it to be so but I dislike the idea that it is the ‘right thing to do’ that is a judgement – some parents are horrific and each person should decide for themselves and if a person decides not to, it isn’t anyones business and no one ever has the right to judge another person in my opinion. ps my parents weren’t horrific and are long gone.

  29. Avatar

    Couldn’t agree with you more, Amy. No one has the right to judge. My Capricorn Sun/Moon/Scorpio rising mother died many years ago. We had a highly antagonistic relationship and she often raged at me because I wasn’t the kind of child she really wanted. This did not go over well with my Scorp moon and I spent my adolescence lashing out at her at every opportunity from extreme hurt. When she became terminally ill, part of me still wanted to help her so I did what I could. However, my motivation was not in the least altruistic. I just didn’t want to risk possible karma fallout from turning my back on her. I did what was good for my belief system, she had little to do with it. That might sound callous and awful to those fortunate enough to grow up loved in a healthier way. I find those who lived under similar conditions have always understood where I’m coming from.

  30. Avatar

    And who’s to say if I even accomplished my karmic objective. Makes me think of these lines from Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet:
    For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man’s hunger.
    And if you grudge the crushing of the grapes, your grudge distils a poison in the wine.

    So who knows.

  31. I would for sure. In fact, I’ve moved back to my home town, where I actually do not want to live, so I can be closer and help them out.

    They were great parents to me, it’s the least I can do. If they were shitty, I’m not sure I would feel the same way.

    Saturn in Cancer.

  32. I have Saturn in Cap like a few of the other posters on this thread.

    My parents were… not good parents. They had children because of societal expectations and the furthering of my father’s career, and to have someone to look after them when they became elderly. Ironically, neither one of them ever had eldercare responsibilities for their own parents. They were both highly abusive, my father much more so than my mother, but my brother was treated normally (my father was very misogynistic, and he did something called “splitting” where my brother was designated the good kid and I was the bad one — this had nothing to do with the people we actually were, but was one of the traits of his personality disorders).

    My brother died young in an auto accident, so I can’t say whether he would have helped with either parent’s care as they aged. Once he (brother) and my mother were both gone, my father expected me to take over all of the cooking, cleaning and ferrying him to his appointments and surgeries (his medical issues were fairly minor at that point). I finally was able to move out six years after my mother’s death, to study at university in this city, but then my father became terminally ill after another six years and I took him in fully expecting to care for him in my apartment until his death. He broke his hip almost a year after his moving in and had to go to a nursing home at that point, which was a relief to me since his behaviour had become much worse.

    I did feel obligated to help my father, since by the time of his final illness he had no one else, but given the way things have turned out my choices now would be to take a more hands-off position and let the paid professionals handle him while keeping an eye on his care. He had the money to pay for anything he needed. What I did seemed like the right thing to do; it cost me dearly in the end, though.

  33. I don’t think anyone’s obligated to do anything ever.

    As far as my own situation goes. I really don’t know. Its one of those things that I’d have to face to actually see what was in my heart about it. Id like to think I wouldn’t allow anyone to suffer if I had the power to do so. But who knows? I’ve surprised myself enough to know that what my true motivation is in life is kind of a mystery to my conscious mind. I’d like to know though.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top