Male Caregivers – Is There Anything Manly About Caregiving?

365 Messages of Hope, Humor & Heart for Caregivers – #4

male-caregiversOne day a young friend who cares for his grandmother said, “You need to tell people that caring for another person isn’t emasculating.” He has an cousin who doesn’t want people to know his job is caring for his mother. His wife is the primary wage earner, and he thinks being a caregiver isn’t very “manly”.

I would agree. I think caregiving is one of the most difficult jobs a person will ever do. It takes an incredible amount of emotional energy and physical strength, along with tremendous patience and a strong stomach, and I don’t think most men are tough enough to do it.

I guess I’m a little like my mother in that way. Her version of the creation story summed up her opinion of most men. She used to say, “When God finished making Adam, He stepped back, inspected His work for a few minutes and then said, ‘Oh, hell, I can do better than that!’ and that’s when He made Eve.”

More often than not, it is a woman who carries the heaviest load when it comes to caring for loved ones. But after reflecting on this for a while, I thought about my husband Alex who cared for his first wife through her terminal illness with lung cancer. After Amey’s death, he continued to provide care for his mother-in-law through the end of her life, and then he became my partner in providing long-distance care for my parents.

I also thought of our friend Steve who lovingly cared for his wife Mary through a long, arduous and painful battle with cancer, as well as our young friend who has to constantly adjust his work schedule and juggle his duties as a father and husband to take care of his grandmother.

The truth is, I’ve known a lot more female caregivers than male caregivers. When a man steps up and takes on the responsibility of caring for a loved one, it shows remarkable character and courage. It demonstrates that they have a huge heart and the capacity to love and serve others, and if that isn’t manly, I don’t know what is!