The Good-Enough Caregiver

Compassionate Conversations


As you embark on this caregiving journey, one thing stands out: the roles you play as a caregiver. Just as you have different roles in your everyday life, caregiving introduces you to new ‘parts’ of your identity. With the addition of caregiving responsibilities, you learn to adapt, sometimes changing your roles or expanding the ones you already hold.

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In the context of caregiving, the terms “parts” or “roles” refer to the different aspects of your identity and behavior that come into play as you go about your caregiving responsibilities. These roles represent the various ways you respond to the needs of the person you are caring for, influenced by your personality, past experiences, and emotional states.

Each role or part serves a specific function and brings a unique perspective to the caregiving experience. Understanding these roles can help you navigate the complexities of caregiving more effectively, fostering greater self-awareness and emotional resilience.

Roles You Play as a Caregiver
  1. The Pleaser: “Your needs are my needs.” Always prioritizing the needs of the cared-for over your own.
  2. The Proud Martyr: A role defined by the motto, “I proudly sacrifice everything for you.” It embodies selflessness to an extreme degree.
  3. The Helicopter Caregiver: This is about control – “I’ve got this, you don’t.” It involves closely overseeing and managing every aspect of the cared-for person’s life.
  4. The Rescuer: “I’ll save you!” It’s about jumping in to fix every problem, often without considering whether intervention is needed or wanted.
  5. The Prisoner: “I’m trapped!” This role is marked by feelings of entrapment and helplessness within the caregiving situation. It can result in you being covered in the RAGS of resentment, anger, guilt, and shame.
  6. The Angry Mother: “I really don’t want to have to meet your every need and I resent you for putting me in this position.”
  7. The Overwhelmed Juggler: Constantly balancing multiple responsibilities, often feeling stretched too thin and struggling to keep up with demands.
  8. The Shadow: A role where your own needs, dreams, and desires are in shadow, leading to a sense of lost identity and unfulfilled potential.
  9. The Vigilant Protector: Driven by a need to safeguard the cared-for from all possible harm, often leading to heightened anxiety and hyper-vigilance.
The Good-Enough Caregiver

The Good-Enough Caregiver is centered on acceptance and realism – “I accept this is the way it is. I accept you are the way you are. I am doing the best I can, and so are you.” This role recognizes the challenges but maintains compassion, acceptance, and forgiveness. As the Good Enough Caregiver, you balance caregiving with self-care, respond adaptively to changes, and accept the realities of your situation.


The Illusion of Control: Consider how your urge to control every aspect of the caregiving experience might stem from a desire to ensure the best outcome. Reflect on instances where this control may have been helpful or hindering.

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