Caretaking vs caregiving. Is there a difference? Why does it matter? Isn’t it the same thing? Is this just semantics?
Let’s flip it around and see how it sounds. Taking care of someone or something. Giving care to someone or something. Did it sound a little different now?
About 30 years ago I was talking to a friend about how exhausted I was taking care of several situations. However, none of them were really my situations. Yet I felt as if I owned those situations, as if they were mine to bear.
That’s the result of caretaking. We take others load on our own back. Their load becomes our burden. It doesn’t belong to us to carry but we do.
Caretaking strips others of their dignity and honor. In taking care we rob others of their opportunity to grow, learn, to develop resilience and endurance.
Think of a child struggling with a toy. The child sits trying to fit the round peg in the square hole. If we took the toy and did it for them what is the impact of taking care of it for them?
God shows humans dignity and honor. He never steps in to take our load but supports and encourages us while we carry our own load.
In reality we can’t take care of others. It’s not humble or modest. It’s not our place. It’s a false sense of trying to control what’s beyond our control and sometimes beyond the control of the other person. We can support, encourage and care about the other person and that's caregiving - giving care, love and support.
We can think of caretaking and caregiving as opposite ends of the care spectrum. There’s lots in between, some healthy behaviors, some not so healthy, and somewhere it can cross the line. How to tell the difference?
What it feels like
- Caretaking is frustrating and exhausting. Caregiving feels like love and inspires.
- Caretaking oversteps boundaries. Caregiving honors boundaries.
- Caretakers believe self-care is selfish. Caregivers understand that in taking care of themself they sustain themselves so they can serve others invigorated.
- Caretakers keep account and comes with expectations. Caregivers give freely of their time and full energy.
- Caretakers believe they know what’s best for others. Caregivers know only one is best for themselves and share from their own experience.
- Caretakers tend to attract needy people. Caregivers tend to attract healthy people.
- Caretakers tend to be judgmental. Caregivers display grace and understanding.
- Caretakers start fixing right away. Caregivers respectfully wait to be asked for help.
- Caretakers fix problems. Caregivers walk alongside others letting others know they are not alone.
- Caretakers carry. Caregivers support.
- Caretakers care from a place of obligation and guilt. Caregivers care out of desire from within themselves.
- Caretakers use expressions such as “I have to” or “I need to”. Caregivers choose.
What situations or relationships come to mind? What can you tweak? What changes in your thinking, viewpoint and actions make sense to you?
The more we care about others in a balanced, humble and modest way, the better off they are and the better off we are. Relationships become more balanced, healthy and actually thrive!
If you desire more ideas to create balance and harmony in your life, see if my courses or other blog posts resonate with you. Stay tuned for more to come to claim your full life!
Here's a course on Gentle Boundaries and in the FB Group I moderate I shared some excerpts from the course