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Sometimes caregivers must become brick walls. We must be that barrier between the one we care for and danger.

After my husband Ronnie’s stroke, he had a few good years of driving. But one day he rear-ended someone. That accident precipitated involvement by the State Department of Safety.  The State had a list of requirements Ronnie had to meet before reinstating his driving privileges. Ronnie could not successfully jump through all the hoops and ultimately lost his license. Needless to say, he was crushed. I wasn’t a happy camper either. I had to explain the State’s decision. I had to remove his license from his wallet and mail it back to the State. I was the brick wall between Ronnie and the wheel.

It’s no fun being the brick wall, but sometimes that’s what it takes. However I pick by battles and use the wall sparingly. My husband wants a supportive wife, not a barrier. That’s what I want too.

If you ever need to become a brick wall, try the following:

  • Put yourself in your loved ones shoes. How would you feel if you were the one facing the brick wall?
  • No matter how angry your loved one gets, try to maintain a calm tone of voice.
  • Help your loved one find a replacement behavior. If driving is no longer an option, could a neighbor or family member arrange a weekly road trip (a simple ride to Lowe’s can make my Ronnie’s day).
  • You may want to give in. But remember, you’re loved one’s safety may be at risk. Be firm, but be respectful. We all deserve dignity and respect.

As a caregiver or as a parent, have you ever had to be the brick wall?


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My friend, Freda, recently reminded me of a term I learned from an educational consultant a few years back. That term is admiring the problem. Admiring the problem is when we drain all our energy by focusing, obsessing, fretting, and talking endlessly about a problem instead of taking action. It seems to me technology fuels this habit. In two seconds we can hop on Facebook and admire our problems to the world. Or maybe we don’t talk about it, don’t share (which is probably worse). Instead we swaddle and cuddle it like a baby, hug it tight to our chest, and let it drive us CRAZY with worry.

Yes, I am guilty of admiring some of my problems. But here’s what I’m trying to do: when such problems arise, I do my best to propose solutions. For example, when I overbook my schedule and am unavailable to respond to emergency caregiving needs, I take a step back. I’m trying to do a better job with scheduling decisions by guarding against binding, irrevocable commitments (or at least in my mind they are perceived as irrevocable).

If you ever find yourself admiring the problem, try the following:

  • Talk it over with a trusted friend. Determine if you have any influence over the problem.
  • If not, don’t waste time worrying about the problem. Give it to God, and get on with your life.
  • If you can influence the problem, brainstorm solutions (see CHANGE WHAT YOU CAN for an example of how my husband and I did this).
  • Develop strategies or an approach for dealing with the problem.
  • As you experience success, spread the word. When you take action and experience positive results, you are a model to those around you.


So what do you think? Have you been guilty of admiring the problem?


If I had a nickel for every time someone said to me, “I don’t see how you do it,” I could afford to eat Nutella three meals a day for the rest of my life (but how disgusting would that be!).

Maybe some speak these words with terrified breath, for to imagine themselves in my shoes might predestine them to the same evil fate. Others might say it with a whisper of admiration, imagining I possess the selfless sainthood required to endure 14 years of post-stroke caregiving. But it’s not about selflessness, sainthood, some predestined fate, or eating all the Nutella you want. It’s about being human, and we humans take care of the ones we love.

My response to “I don’t see how you do it,” has always been, “If you were in my shoes, you’d do the same.” But that was before today, before my dear friend, Greta Reed, shared the video titled, The Father of the Decade. It’s about six minutes long. Please watch and feel free to share your thoughts. I look forward to your comments.

Now that I’ve seen The Father of the Decade, the next time someone says to me “I don’t see how you do it,” I’m going to reply, “I don’t do enough.”