How Will You Parent Your Parents?

Samina Mirza

Samina Mirza, Contributor @seweverything & online at




Hi there, Masalamommas! I was honored when I was asked  to write for this magazine. Even though my daughter Sarah made me aware of this site a couple of years ago, I was impressed but realized that you all were my children’s age. So, I ignored you and went my way. After all that time, here I am… Let’s get some things out of the way. If there was internet and social media back when I was a young momma, I would be all over it.

My late husband and I raised two masalamomma-wannabe’s  and we did it at the time when letter writing was a thing, and I wrote letters to my parents back in Pakistan on a weekly basis. The child rearing and desi-living issues, however, remain very much similar, if not the same. So that’s established – that I’m of your mother’s generation.

I write a sewing blog and my favourite item to make is a piece of stylish clothing. As a friend of mine says, a Chanel jacket came off of someone’s sewing machine, so why can’t a great jacket or a fabulous shalwar suit come off of mine? I heartily agree. If creating your own fashion has sparked an interest in you, take sewing lessons right away.


Onto the intended topic of this post. You’ve guessed by now that I fall into the grandmother age group, even though I have no grandkids. I’m at the point in my life where my own mother is depending on my siblings and me for caregiving and sustenance. She lives in my house and I’m confronted with the challenges, both emotional and physical – 24/7. In spite of a paid caregiver (who, by the way, is the most outstanding human being ever) those are extremely difficult challenges to face.

I’m told that since I’m taking care of my mother, my place in Heaven is reserved. My answer to that is: “really? I’m too busy to think about that; why don’t you come help me do some caregiving so you can earn a place in Heaven, too.” Hahaha. File this away as something to never say to a person who is caring for a parent or elderly relative.   I heard that it’s my “farz” or duty to take care of my mother. I heartily agree. Although the people who articulate that issue have never been in an elder-care situation. File away this thought also. (Fair warning: I do occasionally get snarky)   Nice things to say to someone caring for his/her parent: What can I do to help? Don’t cook dinner tonight.

I made chicken korma and will bring it over. Lets do lunch next week (or shopping, or the new museum exhibit, or visit a friend) …. and so on. There were two events in my life which made me confront my own mortality in a major way. One, the untimely loss of my husband to cancer; the other, caring for my 89-year-old mother. All the challenges I’m facing now with my mom have resulted in a constant pondering over one question: what will happen to me?   Old Hand Care ElderlyI wonder if my children will add me to their household.

Will they quit their jobs (as I did)? Will I be placed in a nursing home?  Should I stay in my own home? Should I go live near my siblings? Who will get “stuck” with me? Will I die early? I know, very morbid thoughts, but they’re real. Whatever my off-spring decide to do with me, I will happily abide by it. They are two highly accomplished, educated, thinking women. It is unfair to force people their age, and yours, to think about those issues at this time in their lives, but sometimes, think we must.


So, masalamommas, I’m very curious to know have you ever thought about how you’ll “parent” your own parents when the time comes? It’s uncomfortable to discuss it when your mom and dad are hale and hearty, but it’s best that some difficult decisions be made now rather than later. Not done that yet? Neither have we….


More about Samina Mirza Samina is a naturalized American of Pakistani origins, with parental roots in Hyderabad Deccan. She’s been living in the USA since January 1974.  She says, “This makes me a mish-mash of cultures as all immigrants are. I love the question, “where are you from – originally?” asked by a character in the original Ghostbusters movie. The question was addressed to a ghost.”

She’s the daughter of a journalist and an English teacher, wife of an engineer and the mother of a journalist and an architectural designer. She grew up and was educated in the city of Karachi, in a home pervasive with Deccani culture and dialect.

She has a wonderful blog called, and says, “My love of sewing, and sharing all aspects of it prompted me to start writing a sewing blog. Did I say I like to write, too? In the process of blog-writing, I jumped into the social media fray, and my privacy concerns went out the window.”

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There are 4 comments

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  1. Sanober

    Hello! Welcome to Masalamommas! Your article comes at the right time because I had not thought about ‘parenting the parents’ until I wrote my own article recently “Why I want my daughter to move out’ (on Masalamommas) which made me realize that at the end of the day I as a parent would never want to be a burden on my children or have them feel stuck to care for me and my husband but should that happen I hope they would do it because they want to not out of obligation. But I suppose that becomes a grey area doesn’t it? I know my parents would feel the same but I hope if and when the time comes, my two brothers and I get to fight over who gets to keep them rather than the other way around. I call dibs! 🙂

    • Samina

      Sanobar, thanks for your lovely response! I grew up listening to my grandparents and my parents uttering the “B” word (burden) over and over again. But fate had other plans. Both my maternal grandparents determinedly & stubbornly stayed put in their own home until it became impossible. Then I watched as my mom & dad devoted themselves to the g-parents – totally. Now it’s my turn, but we live in a place where life demands are different on young people like you. So, I’m still trying to sort out what to expect when it’s time for me to be looked after. That is why everyone needs to have a conversation about this as soon as possible.
      By the way, LOVE your post about your daughter’s moving out. 🙂

  2. Nadia

    Great topic! I have worked with the aging population for many years so I definitely think about it often. Life is going by quickly and at one point most of us will need some level of help. I Wish more South Asians would be open to discussing this topic but when aging, mental Health, and even death are brought up, Desi folks want to brush it under the rug. I often encourage my parents to talk about their needs with me. And I believe it is my responsibility to care for my and my husband’s parents. I know it’ll be tough because I’ve seen it through my clients but it is an aspect of our culture that I appreciate.

  3. Samina

    Nadia, you hit the button about how south Asian communities tend to sweep unpleasant things under the rug. Either that, or it is assumed that “the children will take care of us”. Period. No further discussion. Yup, that’s a good thing about south Asian culture — we take care of our own!

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