Caring for ageing father versus self love

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    Hi all,

    This post comes from a position of great vulnerability and tumult, and any advice is deeply appreciated.

    I am an only late-born child, who was born to after 14 years of my parents’ wedding (mother was 40 when i was born and father 43). My parents were thrilled to have me after such a long wait and doted on me all through childhood and teenage.


    When I was 10 years old, my mother suffered from breast cancer, which she successfully survived with my father’s help and support. I was shaken as a child but weathered the situation with some help.


    As I turned 12, my mother was diagnosed with cancer again (a deadlier version with a low survival rate). This time I was completely heart-broken, semi-depressed and very concerned about my mother’s wellbeing. My father was always there for my mother like a rock and this time too she survived against all odds. These stressful 4 years or so brought us very close as a family and I grew very fond of my parents.


    In the years to come, my mother’s health was functional, but not great (after effects of chemo + radio therapy were harsh). My father was always by her side. He gave up his social circle, a full-time business and pretty much everything else to keep my mother going and I truly admired their strength as a couple.


    Fast forward another 10+ years, I was 25 and finally decided to pursue a PhD abroad. I didn’t think about settling away from my parents permanently but was not very opposed to the idea as I genuinely wanted to experience life outside my home country and grow as a person.


    I came to NZ and midway through my PhD, my mother suddenly passed away due to a cardiac arrest. She died even before they could admit her to a hospital, which meant that I never got to see her one last time. It broke my heart. However, I tried to be strong for my father and put up a brave face. After spending a month with my father, I came back to NZ.

    Soon after, I invited my father to live with me for as long as visa restrictions would allow (3 months). Those were the best months of his life post my mother’s death. It was heart-warming to see him do so well.


    He has been back home for the past six months and is morose every other day now. My phone call to him is the highlight of his day. I am in a state of constant torment. Not only do I miss my mother from time to time, but the guilt of not being able to comfort my father is burdening me to no end. He lives alone, without any friends or family nearby to support him. I worry myself thin thinking about his wellbeing all day long and have come to a point wherein I can’t sleep at night or concentrate on anything else I am doing. This has impacted the quality of my work as well as my partnership. I also have a partner, who works in Auckland and is keen to have a life here in NZ with me. He has been very supportive through this tough phase, but am very conflicted about one question:


    What is my role and duty (if any) towards caring for my father as he grows old? Leaving NZ and going back to my home country seems very unjust to my partner and while I love being in NZ but I am struggling to find my peace of mind here. This has become an all-consuming affair for me, and I am at the verge of a breakdown. I can’t afford to think of my father passing away lonely and sad, without me around.

    TL;DR —-

    My father has been central to providing me with as normal a childhood as possible especially because my mother was diagnosed with cancer twice in a short span of 5 years. My father is now 74, alone and ageing without his partner while I live with my partner in NZ.

    Is my caring for my father at the cost of my partner and myself (and/or vice versa) correct?


    Dear singlechild:

    If your father has been a good man and a good father to you for 25 years, as well as a good husband to your mother for three decades, and if he indeed significantly benefited from his visit with you after your mother’s death, then I’d have him live with me in NZ.

    What are the difficulties in making it happen, having your father immigrate and live with you in NZ, and is your partner against the idea?


    • This reply was modified 1 year, 4 months ago by anita.

    Hi anita, no my partner is more than happy to support my father’s visa application. However, there are visa restrictions for a parent residence visa. The category has been closed for 2 years now and even when it opens, there is an annual cap and several other factors (english requirements, health etc.) that pose a barrier to him moving with us to NZ permanently. This is precisely why I am at such a deadlock about helping him.

    Thanks for your thoughts!


    Dear singlechild:

    Regarding the Parent Resident Visa Category in New Zealand, I read (laneneaverimmigration. co. nz) that the category was closed in 2016 and opened  Feb 2020, with the first selection of applicants May this year, only 1,000 parent applications per annum (a massive reduction from 5,500 under the previous Parent Category), and the income levels for sponsors increased significantly under the new policy to NZD 106,080 (1 sponsor for 1 parent), and NZD 159,120 (sponsor and partner, combined, for 1 parent). In addition,  sponsors are required to provide proof, via inland Revenue tax statements, that they have met the minimum income figures two out of three of the last three years immediately preceding the submission date of the application, so you have to meet these figures for a minimum of two years before you can sponsor. It reads that the government concern behind the income requirement is “whether the sponsors wishing to bring in their parents can pay for the subsequent health treatment of their parents in the future”, and that it is, as it seems to me, a very restrictive policy.

    You asked in your original post: “What is my role and duty (if any) towards caring for my father as he grows old?… Is my caring for my father at the cost of my partner and myself.. correct?”, in the situation where you, 31,  live with your partner in NZ (where you want to continue to live), and your father, 74,  lives alone in your home country, taking into account the very restrictive immigration policy to NZ.

    My answer: your father was a very loyal and dedicated husband to his wife: “My father was always there for my mother like a rock… My father was always by her side. He gave up his social circle, a full time business and pretty much everything else to keep my mother going”. Perhaps because he gave up his social circle while your mother was sick for years, he now “lives alone, without any friends or family nearby to support him”.

    A man so dedicated to his wife deserves all the care and loyalty imaginable, under any and all circumstances, from the woman he has been so dedicated to-  his wife. Not from his daughter. His legacy perhaps is his dedication to his spouse. If you want to continue his legacy, then be dedicated to your spouse, or partner in life.

    Make sure healthcare is available to him in his country, that he has a comfortable home, that if he needs assistance, he has access to such services, send him cards in the mail, packages with little gifts, visit him once a year or so, and if he wants to move to NZ in a few years from now, understanding the restrictive nature of the process and how long it will take, if successful, apply for a Parent Visa for him.




    Hi Singlechild,

    Your story breaks my heart. I have an ageing parent too, and it’s so hard.

    Good fathers are a truly a gift.  Each moment spent with him is a really a gift to yourself. Now, your situation is a bit complex given all the restrictions and details, but, know that if you’re thinking of moving back, it’ll just feel right. Do it though because you want to spend this time with him, not because you’re trying to save him. Sometimes as children we can get confused between the two.

    Good luck!

    Pink 🙂




    Hi anita and pink,

    Apologies for the delayed response. Thank you so much for your suggestions and taking the time to reply to my post.

    , that’s a very interesting way to look at the situation through the lens of legacy. I very much appreciate your perspective. He is a bit stubborn when it comes to making decisions like moving to a better house or availing healthcare as he associates a great deal of self-worth with being independent, but I will try my best to ensure he has everything he needs. At the same time, I am mindful about not imposing my decisions on him.

    , thanks can’t agree more with your statement about good fathers, and also your thought about focusing on spending time with him versus saving him.

    Love and light,



    You are welcome, singlechild. I hope that your respective independent lives (yours and your father’s), are enhanced with a healthy touch of dependence that will make each one of you feel better.



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